is it cultural appropriation, or are they simply a minstrel?
seeing awkwafina, and all the discourse involving her, just reminded me that we really need to have an at-large conversation about how the basis of so many non-black artists’/entertainers’ careers are built on negrophilia and emulating black people and/or blackness.
and this is not new or exclusive to recent years: minstrelsy and exploitative entertainment [of black people] has been a thing since… forever? blackface, old tom and jerry, public lynchings people brought even their children to… how much humor in non-black cultures is based on the disfortune of being black or, transversely, the fortune of not being black?
it’s reduction to call this cultural appropriation. to me, that term is merely a buzzword because it implies there’s a way non-blacks can engage with black cultures without being exploitative vis-a-vis terms like cultural “appreciation”, which materially is non-existent. how could you even organically and appreciatively engage with blackness when you don’t even view black people as… people?
it’s simply minstrelsy.
on one end of the spectrum, blackness is a performance to them. a funny voice with funny words, or a silly dance. it’s a “dumb” name that sounds “made up”. usually their only introduction to blackness is through black entertainers, and so, they only ever view black people as entertainment. the black entertainer is no longer a person who entertains, but a thing that displays blackness as entertainment for their consumption. that is black people to them.
and on the other, blackness is a spectacle to be observed and studied. it’s a taboo and forbidden world (usually because their families only ever tell them that black people are “bad”.) they attempt to emulate blackness with aims of becoming an exception from non-blackness. they fantasize about having mixed children. and they neglect how violently eugenicist it is to fantasize about whitening or mixing a black person’s familial line. they think sexual attraction to black people grants them space in blackness. they think that’s how you respectfully engage with black people, because for non-black people, desire and desirability is how you are granted “personhood”.
and in a way, these are two sides of the same coin. one views us as overt comedy, the other views our cultures as moralized and/or rebellious “behavior” — not blackness as an identity.
of course, these non-black interactions with blackness — whether they are making a bit out of us or trying to quite literally breed us — are anti-blackness. point blank period. in my twenty years of living, i’ve only ever met one non-black person who was not overtly anti black. one. and i met them last year. and that’s not even to say they are without err because to be non-black is to simply be anti-black, but they actually are willing to do what black people expect of them.
effectively, in this world, there are only two “races”: black. and non-black. and no matter where you are from, if you are non-black, you are posited over black people simply because you are not black. which isn’t to say that non-black people do not have -isms and -phobias between them, but if it’s one single thing most non-black cultures of the world will agree upon, it’s anti-blackness. whether they say it overtly or not. & since whiteness is currently dominating, anyone is allowed access to whiteness through extended violence toward black people.
sigh. i guess i typed all of this to say… fuck awkwafina. and fuck people like her. i always have to limit how culturally black i am around non-blacks because they live off of emulating us or simply ostracizing us for being black. and to be honest, i’m just tired. thanks. bye
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