August 27th, 2013
Fashion, Fashion Discussion, Fashion News, Kim Kardashian
Discussion: Cultural Appropriation – Should We Be Mad?
By Faith

Rap is once again at the forefront of national discussion!
Many of the elements inherent to the genre within the last two decades have become “trendy”, including grills, athletic-inspired ‘fits, and twerking. ABC News just released an article titled, “Twerking: A Scientific Explanation”, which recently set the Internet ablaze:


The article describes twerking as a, “a complex, technical subject“, then goes into exact steps on how to complete the dance move from a scientific standpoint. Looking for someone to thank for this almost academic article? All fingers point to Miley Cyrus, who took her best stab at the movement during her lively VMA performance:

Katy Perry used the awards show red carpet as the forum for trying on her new grills. Madonna has also worn the flashy mouthpieces in the past month.

katy perry roar grill

Last, but not least among these “trends” is sport-inspired attire. Have people been wearing jerseys, snapbacks, and Jordans since they were invented? Yes, but let’s face it: rappers and athletes in the 90′s and early years of the first decade of the new millennium really turned the pieces into everyday attire.




I’m all for folks immersing themselves in the parts of other cultures that they genuinely find interesting. I spent a good portion of my college years doing Bollywood and Filipino dancing and I’m currently wearing my chandelier earrings from Dubai.

What makes me angry is when the customs of other cultures are portrayed in a negative light for amusement–and mocked. Miley Cyrus’s VMA performance? A mockery. Katy Perry’s grill usage? She’s currently dating a man who likened his private parts to a KKK member, so there’s that.

I have no desire to teach my friends of other races to twerk, do the real harlem shake, or to go grill shopping with them. My friends also aren’t silly enough to ask. Despite our different social mediums and heightened connectedness all around the globe, it seems we’re all pretty low on cultural awareness. Before we embark on wearing a bindi or take our next recreational outing to try out a dance craze we spotted on Youtube, a little research wouldn’t hurt now, would it?
miley cyrus twerk team
What do you think about cultural appropriation? Should we be mad or should we just get over it?


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53 Responses to “Discussion: Cultural Appropriation – Should We Be Mad?”

  1. Biyonsay says:

    Stop giving that moron more attention for God’s sake.

  2. Jihan says:

    Miley needs a warm bottle of milk and an earlier bedtime.

    AND I’m so glad you brought up John Mayer comparing his wee wee wee to David Duke. These folks get a couple of black friends and then think that gives them a pass to do whatever they want. They can all piss off, Miley especially! If she really wants to prove she’s about that ratchet life, maybe she should date one of the elligible bachelors from Love and Hip Hop?? We’ll see how she likes that arrangement!

    but more importantly– she needs to stop trying to perpetuate ratchetness because at the end of the day, it’s not cute, and has adverse affects on US as a people.

  3. bella says:

    my biggest issue with Miley is the fact that she is trying extremely hard to be something she’s not. There is a difference between being genuinely inspired and making a complete mockery out of something.

    I think Justin, Robin, Eminem, Christina Aguilera etc are examples of artists who’ve been influenced by black music their entire careers.

    Miley is a complete joke. that’s what it really comes down to and the same can be said for Iggy azalea who puts on this hood accent on her songs but sounds like the crocodile hunter in real life. I’m not here for it.

  4. Jessica says:

    No, I’m not mad but I’m somewhat amused by their actions. On one hand they want to ridicule and belittle us for what they think are “our” ways but turn around and try to emulate those very ways.

    Talk about contradiction.

  5. Empress says:

    I’m just disgusted! No words

  6. c. says:

    Miley is a child of doubtful IQ and terrible judgement, just looking for attention in a pathetic way. The rest are not offensive about it. I think she is untalented, annoying and gross. Everyone needs to stop giving her attention.

  7. Grace says:

    Miley reminds me of how Gwen Stefani used to flank herself w/her Harajuku Girls as if they were objects and not people. Typical.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I think it is something to be mad at since this further puts people of color in a negative light. Everyone wants to “ACT BLACK” when they are “just trying to have fun”. Its also really sad that people of color tend to make it ok for our counterparts to behave this way. I could go on and on but I won’t.
    Miley needs to be young and fun by being HERSELF

  9. Reg says:

    People give this sh*t too much energy!! What’s the problem – she likes RAP. So does the rest of middle america. How says this isnt who she is? …. Meanwhile, Syria’s people are being inhilated from nuclear weapons. SMH! ROCK OUT WITH YOUR COCK OUT MILEY!

  10. Lex says:

    I agree with Jessica. Its funny how when black women “twerk” they are looked at as ghetto trash, but when a white woman does it she’s considered wife material and the most beautiful woman in the world. The white kids are now dressing like the urban kids, but only the black ones are looked at like thugs and gangstas.

    Now I am by no means saying that “twerking” and sagging pants, hoodies, and jordans BELONG to black people! I’m just saying if some are considered ghetto for dressing and acting this way, why aren’t they all?

  11. S says:

    @Jihan, I couldn’t have said it any better and @Anonymous, I completely agree. What unenlightened individuals like Miley think is fun, hip and edgy, in actuality is ignorant and classless. I have to echo an article I read earlier today that said these “ratchet” things are perpetuated as being the “gospel of black life and culture”, when in actuality it is really only one aspect. African-Americans as a people are quite diverse even among ourselves, we are not ALL one thing. Certainly, not all of us aspire to twerk like champions.

    Cultural appropriation for the sake of enlightening oneself to that of another’s culture is one thing, but cultural appropriation for the sake of becoming popular and making a buck WHILE perpetuating the already DEEPLY entrenched Negative stereotypes of another’s culture, specifically the negative stereotypes of the women of that culture is entirely unacceptable. Miley has no clue, None!

  12. binks says:

    This is what happens when you give people an inch and they take a mile! But sadly a lot of people, including us, co-sign this f*ckery but then turn around and get mad or is not aware of the impact these images has on us because they highlights the worst in our culture. Because let’s be real, Miley Cyrus, Madonna, Katy Perry, etc. can always go back to being white and have the privilege to experiment with different things and have that no define them, us…no so much. Trust me, Miley Cyrus will be alright after this incident and can go back to being America’s sweetheart *if she chooses to be* but if that was a black artist people would be blackballing her. So, let’s not act like culture appropriation is new, that has been happening since the dawn of time. I always said that mainstream only wants diversity especially when it comes to black culture as a whole on THEIR terms and most of the times that doesn’t include the true nature of us or our history but a watered down version of what they think we are hence spotlighting twerking, grills, etc.

  13. S says:

    I am not amused in the slighest. This discussion goes MUCH deeper than just the clothes. All cultures appropriate from other cultures on many different levels and that in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. However, when you decide to emulate the culture of another make sure you KNOW that you are not emulating those things that a good majority of the those within that culture find classless. Twerking is not indicative of the WHOLE of black life. Unfortunately, this foolishness is being seen and emulated around the world as being indeed indicative of black life. They twerk in Korea now.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Cultural appropriation??? Since when being a being with a huge lack of class is a cultural fact? Since when twerking, dressing like a clown, and having no respect for your body or moral distruction defines black or any other culture? We have to be aware that there’s media culture, the deep will to appeal to the masses… Media portrays this image that is not always in sync with the truth. Rihanna is a black girl who acts slutty not black, miley cyrus is a white girl who acts slutty not black. So getting mad at miley for acting like that with the excuse that she’s trying to act black is labeling all black culture as ratchet. Not every black person wears grills, twerks, or walk around half naked. Stop givin this so called celebrities a damn, they’re not the world, they dont dictate a thing and they dont rule nothing, stop living the cult of the celebrity… If this people drive you in some kind of cultural way, thats a huge problem, leetting yourself be infuenced by some people with no real social or cultural contribution to the world is a HUGE lack of intelligence.

  15. laBoss says:

    I fully agree with Anonymous 4:56 (minus the “lack of intelligence” part… no need to insult people with differing opinion).

    However, the reality is that no one will ask a white girl to “teach them how to twerk” but they will ask a black girl, even if asking “jokingly”.

  16. Shoeblessed says:

    Someone has to explain to me how a dance can be taken as a negative on a whole culture of people. What does “twerking” have to with how someone views a person? That”s what I really want answered. Body movement means negativity? Anger & frustration and news reports based on someone dancing? Like we can’t be this unenlightened. Like, QUE?!!!

    We as human beings worry about the absolute wrong things!!!!

    Marinate on that!!!

  17. DarkNLovely says:

    I think i’m more concerned with the black folks that condone miley’s BS. If we as a people ignored her…she would go away. Black men especially. Stop egging these heaux on. It isn’t cute. It isn’t twerking. Stop the coonery.

  18. anonymous says:

    I agree with what Anonymous @ 4:56 pm….twerking & grills & jordans & baseball caps do not define me as a black person. US as blacks are sometimes so sensitive about our own race that the smallest things bother us-there are PLENTY of things that we can be upset about, but this? let that lil girl dance. & katy prob got a grill cuz she saw beyonce w/hers. Part of it is for attention & she is definitely getting that.

  19. Lolani says:

    We dont own twerking and I am a black woman and I cannot twerk and dont have the desire to learn how so “twerking” is not a part of my culture! I speak regular(not gonna say proper) english and not slang…even the thug-ish people where I am from use proper grammer which surprises alot of people when I move everyone was like you talk so white and it was weird because I am from a urban area and we all talk like that and I let it be known I am black I have a black husband and black children and I was raised in a black house hold so I dont talk white I talk like a balck woman. why do we alway have to take ownership of negative stuff like twerking? I could type for hours about this subject but my fingers wont let me !

  20. Taty says:

    Who cares?! It’s a dance, get over it. Pop/Dance music is all the rave now and EVERYONE is doing it,including black artists. I don’t see white people claiming that we are now copying them. They can do whatever they want, no dance move or dental jewellery defines my culture. I don’t even know how to twerk. She can do it, good on her. Better things to worry about.

  21. Simone says:

    You guys should read the article on on this lost little girl.

  22. Simone says:

    I for one, was DISGUSTED at Miley Cyrus. I don’t know what the hell she called herself doing up there on that stage. Further more, I don’t know who told her she looked good doing it. I read somewhere, not sure where, and I hate referencing articles and not being able to give specifics, but in any case, it stated that she made a comment to the likes of her wanting to explore the “ratchet lifestyle” and black culture. This upsets me in the sense that, why would any human being, of any race, color or creed, want to explore anything resembling what she did. She needs to stop it. Immediately. She looks disgusting, she sounds disgusting, and the list goes on. I’m a little past tired of this whole going out in public ass naked looking like stank-erina and claiming your expressing yourself or being who you want to be. And let it be known, NO ONE is “hating” on that poor child. She’s not looking for attention or love or reverence IMO. She wants acceptance by a race whom she is apparently trying to depict in a completely wayward manner. I’m through with her. Poof…..Be GONE hunty

  23. Smh says:

    I guess she got what she wanted controversy ….I just wanted to say that why rihanna has to be call slutty for doing similar dancing to ciara or beyonce…everyone shakes their butt whether try to class it up … It’s cool it’s a carribean thing… The thing I don’t like is Miley lacks any efforts ..I don’t know if she intentionally tries to act black but having a black dancer was a lil bit on side eye why not have some other type of dancers if your not trying to be black ..or why not actually incorporate really dancing instead smacking a girl ass because she has big butt and happens to be black

  24. LOL says:

    I have to give this entire convo a side eye. I really don’t give two scoops of ice cream about twerking, Miiley, Justin Beiber or anyone else…I really don’t even get a flying squirrel about Rihanna, Beyonce or any one else. What I do care about is what my president is going to regarding Syria and Egypt. That affects me…this doesn’t. Stop being distracted folks. When Honey Boo Boo came out did you see white people taking to the streets and demanding the show be removed, no, they just went about their every day lives. Good Heavens we are the race of low hanging fruits…aren’t we? #KeepYourEyesOnThePrize….

  25. LOL says:

    Oh yeah…if people think public shaming Miley will work…no need to look further than Kim Kardashian to see how that worked out.

  26. pican says:

    Robin Thicke’s new song has so many beautiful women of color in their new music video have anyone else seen it? But its just a form of self expression or a trend/fad. They come and go meaning no one owes us for starting certain trends first. People need to stop taking this stuff personally like its not like these people aren’t comfortable doing it and its not like people oppose it either. If you don’t like it don’t buy it like its your choice to support these people but stop making everything about race. “Twerking” doesn’t define you as a person its just currently hot and what’s in.This is what people are into these days and the music industry is only selling what makes money. Its her career and its her decision to present herself in such manner.

  27. iheartkeya says:

    Again as I’ve said before, Miley is selling HARD and I’m not buying it. And it’s a shame people are condoning this and calling others “haters” for speaking out. There’s a difference between being young, flirty & fun and being just a plain old ratchet hot mess. That’s what Miley’s being right now. I don’t think she’s now being herself at all.
    And some of you are right; twerking and wearing J’s and grills definitely don’t define black culture but let’s not pretend they aren’t a small part of it. I haven’t seen white or any other race doing those things before they’ve become so popular.

  28. tiffany says:

    ….shouldn’t we be talking about something more important? Like the kids who cited boredom as a reason to kill someone? Wake Up Black People

  29. Enneirda07 says:

    Paul Mooney has a quote that is very appropriate to this whole situation…

  30. ok says:

    it’s interesting how some on here are saying it doesn’t matter what she’s doing and it doesn’t affect/represent them and that may be true to YOU. but what you fail to realize is that miley cyrus is an international celebrity who is right now selling an “urban” “ghetto” image (which whether we like it or not or chose to admit/agree to) most people in america and around the world (thanks to justin beiber/miley cyrus/jay z and other rappers who rap about a certain life style or experience) associate with black people/culture in general no matter if we know that we’re a diversified people and that that doesn’t define us a whole.

    so that’s the problem here and has always been the problem with how we’re represented in america and around the world. negative images/portrayals of us are disseminated and there’s no counter image of that to show that we are more than just “ghetoo”, “urban” “twerking” “immoral” “ignorant” people. and you can choose to think that it doesn’t affect you but it does.

    for some people in america and around the world their only interaction/introduction to black people are through music/television/film and if you look at how we’re portrayed through those channels overall, it’s not very positive at all. that’s why you have a young black boy being shot because he had a hoodie on and he looked “suspicious” yet would a young white child look suspicious with a hoodie on?

    and as someone said earlier miley/justin/madonna all have white privilege which lets them dabble in “black culture/stereotypes” and come out unscathed… “they’re just going through a phase” or ” they’re just having fun” but black people don’t have that same license.

    there are black people that are “ghetto” and act a certain away but there are also white people that act like that too but the fact that the media is saying she’s acting “black” lets you know who that stereotype is really attached to.

    i’m by no means ashamed of my culture and my people in anyway but what i won’t stand for and support are people who just want to profit and play off those stereotypes and try to act ignorant of what they are doing.

    miley cyrus knows exactly what the f8ck she’s doing and hopefully this little stunt she pulled at the VMA’s will backfire on her and she’ll give it a rest.

    “the day of the geechie is over!!!”

    sorry for the rant, but i felt some type of way.

  31. Tam says:

    The most powerful man on earth is black…the fcuk I care about Miley Cyrus?

  32. Katie says:

    Mayne, eff Miley Cyrus. Two, I disagree with ANYONE that refuses to acknowledge that twerking is, in fact, apart of black American culture. Why shouldn’t we claim it? Is it because some blacks and whites demonize it. Is it because it’s sexual? What’s the big deal if twerking is sexual. Every culture, and yes black americans do have a culture, has a sexual dances.

    I for one refuse to participate in this demonetization/stigmatization of OUR CULTURE and I will continue to twerk whenever I feel like it. I don’t give a hoot if there are people who have brought the racist koolaid that twerking = hypersexual = bad. I will continue to CELEBRATE US AND OURS!!

  33. OkGo says:

    The only problem I have with Miley Cyrus and her new found “ratchetness” is that her camp is associating lewd behavior with black women, the oldest stereotype in the book. She is surrounded by African American women in her video and now the same BS At the VMA’s. As far as twerking, booty dancing (as it used be called) has been around forever, like Columbus white people discovered it and are making it into something it aint. The dance is just fun, not always sexual (depending on how you do it) and it WAS for the most part harmless until white folks got involved.
    I think she made a fool out of herself, and proved she cant sing or dance. This stunt just showcased her lack of talent (and body). She looked like a “lil” idiot, I hope that is hip enough for her.

  34. Nonewnew says:

    I don’t even think this is appropriation. People toss the word around and change the meaning every other article. Wearing grills is more appropriation (by textbook definition) than what Miley did. She just acted a mess but nothing about her act was appropriating blackness.

  35. A.Buttafly says:

    I am more concerned about the black dancers. It wasn’t even brought to my attention until I saw a feminist blog post on Facebook breaking down the difference between black and white feminist. Some are defending Miley in saying that as a women she has the right to exude her sexuality and to think differently is slut shaming…ok thats fine…but then I question the idea of white privilege and how as a white women she is well within her rights to “twerk” or behave in a lewd manner if front of the entire world but when a black women does the same thing she is considered trashy, or ratchet.

    As black women we should be more in an uproar about her back up dancers than Miley Cyrus. Even as the queens of twerkdom we are relegated to the background. I just watched a performance of Iggy Azelea on MTV and like Lex, I believe mentioned up thread it was disgrace. I was super pissed when the two black back up dancers came on stage bouncing to her ridiculous rap song.

    Where are the artists that should be taking the place of Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Monie Love, Salt N Pepa, TLC…???

  36. binks says:

    @OK thank you! People fail to realize how much power these celebrities/media holds when it comes to projecting our image especially around the globe. Like you said, despite us knowing that we aren’t monolithic others seem not to understand that.

  37. wapagirl says:

    She’s obviously fake. When something isn’t genuinely you, people see right through that. The swag is all the way off. She looks quite awkward and stiff dancing. She kept doing the same move. She’s just another white person trying to gain acceptance from the black community by what they believe is “acting black” and she’s failing… egregiously.

  38. afrodutch says:

    Not only that… everybody… EVERYBODY is using the word N*GGA nowadays like it’s no problem! A cute big joke brought on by OUR rappers!
    White, Arab, Asian, you name it youngsters now greet each other with “What’s up my n*gga” and “N*gga please” and “N*gga this…” and “N*gga that…”
    Whole 5000 comment posts on facebook headlined “Replace a word in a movie title with N*gga” where consequently these youngsters comment “The Dark N*gga Rises” and “The good, the bad and the n*gga” and everybody hahahahalolrotflmao… YUP!!!

  39. S says:

    @Ok 8:52 pm, I COMPLETELY 100% agree. That is EXACTLY the problem and for some to not “see” that it is, is the bigger problem. We can divorce ourselves individually from certain behaviors all we want to, but The Rest of the World lumps us ALL in the same categories of ratchet. There is no social distinction between/among African-Americans in the world’s eye view. Because what is aired around the world via all forms of media outlets, by in large, is exactly the kind of mess Miley did at the VMAs. Also, the problem.

  40. Serenity says:

    There is nothing that CAN be done about it. She already did it. And white people do what they want without regard to how other cultures feel about it. So…….

  41. KBS says:

    All this hype and Miley wasn’t even twerking, because Miley can’t twerk. You need a$$ to do that. She couldn’t even sing on key and for some reason her tongue kept falling out her mouth.

  42. Kiki says:


  43. Kiki says:

    I actually can’t get over how “funny” this topic is. African Americans are the most sensitive and insecure crop of black people. You want to claim ownership of twerking and grills etc? LOL! That is what you self-identify with? Wow! If it were a situation whereby White folks condemn twerking and the likes to black people, I’m pretty sure all hell will break loose; all efforts will be made to deflect and deny twerking and grill wearing as black culture.

  44. Jenn says:

    People need to get the h*ll over it already. Let’s be honest, it wasn’t cute nor was it flattering. But Justin Timberlake has said it best during his interview with Sway. She 20 years old! Doing whatever kind of mess any other local or college 20 year old would be doing. Only difference is she gets national attention, she’s got a microphone, AND she did it at the VMA’s. So the h*ll what! Let the girl live! Everyone thought it was ok for Madonna and Brittney to kiss during their performance, ok for Brittany to have a strip tease on national tv etc etc. Let her have her fun. I don’t approve of it but guess what, I’m guaranteed that when any of you were 20 years old… you were having fun. If not, then I’m sorry. Our culture has the nerve to openly put these stupid dances out and get upset when you’ve got someone having fun doing WHATEVER IT IS THAT SHE THINKS SHE’S DOING! Settle down. Besides, from what is heard in the music industry…… pharrell really seems to think she’s super talented. So with that said, while I sit and wait for some dope Miley music…………. twerk miley miley twerk!

  45. Kat says:

    @Jenn, no, no one thought the Britney thing was ok. It was a huge controversy at the time.

    Personally, I’m just sick of these minimally talented performers selling sex because they have nothing else to offer. She doesn’t write music, she barely sings it, she just hops on stage half naked and someone cuts a check. “She” really could be any of these pop stars.

    I’m not too mad, I don’t have MTV, BET or any of those other mind-numbing cable channels. I learned a while ago to limit my exposure to this foolishness, because it clearly isnt going anywhere. Hell, Much as I like this blog, I limit my time here as well…

  46. Lauren Fay says:

    WE, as black people, are always so quick to play the race card and act culture shocked. until we learn how to not be that way you’re going to go through life pissed.
    the white community tan to get darker skin, turn to medical procedures for enhancement, love our lingo and small “cultural” details…why are “we” mad?

  47. Kilode? says:

    Can’t believe I read every comments.
    This really is a non-issue tbh…

  48. Gemini says:

    Excellent post! Artists like Iggy Azalea and Kreyshawn are among the others who use this “acting black” platform as a way to gain followers and generate massive buzz. Kreayshawn criticized Nicki Minaj some time ago for not bring “authentic” enough which is ridiculous by the way since she goes by the stage name Kreayshawn when her real name is Natassia Gail Zolot.

    What is really problematic about this issue is the fact that popular black artists do these things all the time wear grills, dance etc. But when a white person emulates these cultural symbols it is considered “fun” when on a black person its “ghetto”.

  49. Gemini says:

    @Lauren Fay

    Race Card? Are you black? The “race card” doesn’t go away it sticks w/ you when you wake up, go to work, walk down the street, go to the store etc. I never understood why some black people would even repeat the term “race card” and use it in a sentence. The term is demeaning and needs to be removed we don’t have a term for white people. So why use the term “race card” to describe ourselves in various situations.

    I got one for you how about the term “master card” to refer to white people who use it everyday. Nobody is “mad” the issue here is the way our culture acts, treats and behaves when it comes to black cultural symbols used in a white form.

  50. Moyo says:

    Paul Mooney said it best: “Everybody wants to be a ni@#a, but nobody wants to be a ni@#a.”

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