By Dr. Harold A. Black
I don’t understand the term “cultural appropriation.” Sure I know that the dictionary says “adoption of certain language, behavior, clothing, or tradition belonging to a minority culture or social group by a dominant culture or group in a way that is exploitative, disrespectful, or stereotypical.” That means that the left equates cultural appropriation with white supremacy since minorities by definition cannot culturally appropriate. So its ok for a black person to appear in a play in whiteface or wear the tribal dress of a native American at Halloween. But whites are criticized for wearing dreadlocks – even though it’s a stunning look on certain women. But blacks speak English, and wear suits, ties and shoes without being accused of cultural appropriation. Given all the black men who shave their heads, I am surprised that the cultural police don’t condemn head shaving whites. What about all the blacks, men and women, who are sporting blond dreds? Are they appropriating white culture?
Joe Biden wants the Atlanta Braves to change their name and get rid of the tomahawk chop. Even I admit that the Braves were inappropriate early on with Chief Knock-A-Homa and his teepee in center field. I hated that caricature and the gap tooth Indian brave on the Cleveland Indians logo. But I don’t want the Braves to change their name even though I am more Native American than Elizabeth Warren. I don’t know which of the 157 distinct tribes but its most likely Cherokee. What about music? Should white musicians be “allowed” to play jazz? Or blues? But, of course, its ok for blacks to play bluegrass or country like Charlie Pride or The Carolina Chocolate Drops.
As Halloween approached several universities cautioned their students about wearing costumes that “appropriated” culture. Students were warned against costumes that were “racist, crude, or culturally insensitive.” I guess this means that you should not go dressed as a Mexican wearing a sombrero and a serape. Heaven forbid if that costume hinted of illegal crossing! Don’t wear feathers and warpaint unless you are a Native American. No blackface, no dreadlocks, no transphobic (dress on a straight guy). I wonder if it is ok to dress up like a nun or priest? And please don’t show up looking like you are homeless. It’s absurd because some people are going to be offended no matter what. Take for example the white chemistry professor who is being “investigated” by her university for going to a Halloween party dressed as Michael Jackson and dancing to “Thriller.” What’s wrong with that? She probably wasn’t in blackface since Jackson whitened his skin. When I went to vote, there is a museum at the polling place and one of the workers showed up in a costume dressed like a witch. She had vivid green hair, a stovetop hat and a flowing black gown. I am sure she offended witches. But she looked wonderful. However, there are some costumes that even I would find offensive: Nazis, Klu Klux Klan, slaves, Aunt Jemima, Little Black Sambo, snaggle tooth Indians, minstrel shows.
What about entertainment? I can’t remember the last time I saw an old Tarzan movie. Still the funniest scene was when Tarzan was in New York and got out of a cab and proclaimed the hotel valet was from some African tribe. My father loved Sanford and Son but not the old Amos and Andy shows. Could a revival of All in the Family even be considered? What about the Beverly Hillbillies or Gomer Pyle? Was the dominant culture insensitive to southern rural white folk? But the left is selective in who it criticizes. I don’t recall seeing them condemn Hillary Clinton for mimicking a black accent or Joe Biden telling a black audience that electing a republican will “put y’all back in chains.” As a country we have allowed the small minority who get offended at the least imagined slight to dictate for the rest of us. We have lost our sense of humor. To get it back, we are just going to have to stop being so sensitive and just ignore those who always bemoan “hurtful” actions that make them feel “threatened.”