None More Black
“You have these white people who don’t really understand the issues.”-Richard Sherman
“Am I saying that the people of Ohio wasn’t educated? Am I saying that some of the other states that voted for [Trump] was uneducated? They could have been or they could not have been. But that doesn’t mean it was the right choice.”-LeBron James
“As long as you think you’re white, there’s no hope for you.”-James Baldwin
There’s been an awful lot of noise made in the last few years about this strange idea of “cultural appropriation.” From what I gather, it means to borrow elements of another culture, be they hair styles, dance moves, or cuisine, when you yourself are not of that culture. Why would someone do this? To my mind, it’s a kind of tribute, like if you love Japanese culture and learn how to make a killer seaweed salad for your pop-up restaurant. If you really love Japanese culture, maybe you take it a step further and masturbate to Hentai, I don’t know. But it seems it’s become a cardinal sin amongst the HuffPo set to use anything that may be attributable to another culture. The consensus of these opinion makers is that each culture (minus whites, obviously) has a copyright on the distinctive features of said culture. Transgressing these fictitious copyright laws is met with harsh recrimination, followed by, if possible, ostracism and serious financial repercussions. Kooks Burritos, two Portland, Oregon (white) girls’ burrito stand, was the target of controversy not long ago, forced to close under withering criticism of this culturally appropriative money-making culinary venture, but they are not alone. This is “just” another example among many of attacks on people and establishments for “stealing” some aspect of another culture, and there will surely be more.
The loudest voices about cultural appropriation are a certain sub-set of “the blacks,” whipped into a frenzy over the idea of white people with frizzy hair or cornrows or whatever the outrage du jour may be. Katy Perry with cornrows? Blaxploitation. Crime against humanity. What is it that black guy says in Airheads? Ah yes, “White man with a gun…Same shit been happenin’ to my people for four hundred and twenty-five some-odd years!” That’s the same, in principle, as Katy Perry affecting a “black” hairstyle or wearing a kimono. Another sign of Whitey holdin’ us down! It does seem these particular black folks have a special place in their hearts for whites, as they seem to be awfully preoccupied with what we are or are not doing. Look, if it’s “basic” to stay off welfare and have the odd Starbucks caramel macchiato, then so be it.
In all seriousness though, the obsession with cultural appropriation is endemic of the ceaseless policing of everyone else’s behavior, speech, and decisions in today’s world, and it would be so easy to dismiss this foolishness but for the fact that the consequences can be dire, actually ruining people’s lives and livelihoods as a result of this asinine purity crusade. Not only that, but appropriation policing has gone even further to suggest that European/white culture is somehow invalid or non-existent, and thus impossible to appropriate. We’ve all heard Justin Trudeau suggest there’s no core Canadian identity, much as Ingrid Lomfors stated that “there is no such thing as Swedish culture.”
The resultant dispossession of whites’ heritage has been profoundly destructive. Matt Wray, a sociologist at Temple University, has witnessed first-hand that many of his white students grapple with a racial-identity crisis:
They don’t care about socioeconomics; they care about culture. And to be white is to be culturally broke. The classic thing white students say when you ask them to talk about who they are is, ‘I don’t have a culture.’ They might be privileged, they might be loaded socioeconomically, but they feel bankrupt when it comes to culture … They feel disadvantaged, and they feel marginalized. They don’t have a culture that’s cool or oppositional.
That is of course not true, especially in terms of the former, but the sentiment is deeply damaging. What plagues Europeans is a metaphysical degradation of the spirit and the soul. Materialism reigns supreme, and the mainstream message could not be clearer; as Mark Steyn puts it: “Everybody matters except you.” Your culture, your intellectual inheritance, your traditions—these are invalid if not non-existent, you’re told, and you’d better get in line to service the multi-cultural utopia of the future, and don’t forget to wear your hair-shirt.
As Hua Hsu’s writes in her 2009 Atlantic article, “The End of White America?”:
Pop culture today rallies around an ethic of multicultural inclusion that seems to value every identity—except whiteness. “It’s become harder for the blond-haired, blue-eyed commercial actor,” remarks Rochelle Newman-Carrasco, of the Hispanic marketing firm Enlace. “You read casting notices, and they like to cast people with brown hair because they could be Hispanic. The language of casting notices is pretty shocking because it’s so specific: ‘Brown hair, brown eyes, could look Hispanic.’ Or, as one notice put it: ‘Ethnically ambiguous.’” “I think white people feel like they’re under siege right now—like it’s not okay to be white right now, especially if you’re a white male,” laughs Bill Imada, of the IW Group. Imada and Newman-Carrasco are part of a movement within advertising, marketing, and communications firms to reimagine the profile of the typical American consumer. (Tellingly, every person I spoke with from these industries knew the Census Bureau’s projections by heart.)
What we have here is a conscious effort to “re-imagine” what it means to be American, visually at least. And while blacks and browns whine that #RepresentationMatters, as just a few examples, one of our Founding Fathers is “re-imagined” in minstrelsy (Hamilton), “the whitest of the gods” Heimdall has been replaced with a black man, we get black Valkyries (Thor: Ragnarok), and all sorts of other absurdities, but what if, to use Paul Mooney’s joke from Chappelle’s Show, Hollywood actually did cast Tom Hanks as The Last Nigger on Earth? There would be riots from city to city across this great land, just as there have been for “transgressions” far less egregious.
With all of these “concerns” over who is appropriating what, why, where, when, and how, it’s become clear to me that some people seem to be exempt from the appropriation witch hunt. Why isn’t it cultural appropriation when Beyoncé sports straight blonde hair or Nicki Minaj has Chinese characters tattooed on her arm? The BLM set kvetches when white people use “their” slang, but white people don’t complain when “they” use “our” language—ie, English. White guys with dreads is akin to genocide, but blacks drive on crowned roads, wear shoes (are obsessed with shoes, in fact), and enjoy the benefits of electricity. A white man invented basketball. It’s a slippery slope, isn’t it? It’s all well and good to point to a twerk here and some slang there, but what about indoor plumbing? That was invented by whites, blacks use it, and we say nothing. Why?
I think, as a general rule, people who don’t have anything to prove don’t feel the need to go out of their way to prove themselves. Since white people have invented almost everything in the history of man- (and womyn-) kind, we don’t feel compelled to holler about our contributions to human progress; we do not have an inferiority complex. Conversely and perversely, we’re actually made to feel ashamed of our rich past, as “whiteness” is evidently just a construct and by implication does not really exist.
However, if “white” is not an identity, then neither is “black.” If race is a social construct, then Affirmative Action is only reinforcing categorical stereotypes and should be eliminated immediately! Black advocacy groups are becoming increasingly desperate as their “piece of the pie” shrinks against rising Hispanic, Arabic, other assorted “enriching” ethnicities’, and, to a much lesser extent (depending on the ethnicity) Asian numbers. Whites cannot continue to subsidize black and brown degeneracy indefinitely, however; we always hear about how individuals or organizations never do enough “for” the black community. Well, the results might surprise you: over the course of their lifetime, the average white American will have had $384,109 transferred on their behalf by the government to a single black individual (the black individual in question will have represented a net negative of three-quarters of a million dollars over the course of their lifetime). This is clearly not sustainable.
In the First Great Wave of immigration, the various peoples (mostly of Europe) arrived in the United States with different traditions, languages, et cetera, and even with a common racial if not ethnic denominator, it took the Italians and Polish and Irish immigrants a fair amount of time to eventually settle in to an American identity, albeit one still informed by their historical and ethnic roots. And there’s nothing wrong with that. That is, in fact, the ideal of immigration, but as Andrew Klavan notes, “You can only ‘liberalize’ effectively within your tradition.” Hence, the arrivals to America had to subordinate their overt “Italian-ness” or “Polish-ness” to their new “American-ness.” Multi-culturalism ghettoizes people and precludes this from ever happening, deepening tribal loyalty and exacerbating ethnic tensions. We will never escape biology, and so there will always be race and sex disparities, but a unifying culture allows us to come together in ways we otherwise could not have. This is a delicate act, however, and we are witnessing how quickly it can be undone.
A healthy, robust society is not one that feels the need to isolate every nascent cultural influence and render it solely the province of one group. Yes, it may be part of said group’s identity, and hence is “theirs,” but closing these potential influences off from everyone else stagnates a culture and leads to ossification, especially in the context of assimilative immigration (as opposed to the atomizing “multi-culturalism” of today). Rigidifying language has the same effect. “Proper” Latin is a dead language, but “vulgar” Latin bequeathed to us the many Romance languages. Grammar and diction are indispensable, but language, particularly vocabulary, must remain somewhat elastic. Cultures inevitably suffocate when they become little more than museums. Preserving our monuments is extremely important—we’re not ISIS or Antifa—as ideally monuments serve as a reminder, a history lesson, maybe a source of inspiration or a source of caution; that said, we do not want to become prisoners of our pasts, nor, however, do we want to forget them. One of the main reasons many blacks in America struggle is because many are still enslaved by the past, unable to escape the victim narrative and add a new chapter to the story.
There is of course a counter-point: cultural and linguistic elasticity in the American context is a different conversation than one in, say the Norwegian context. Lauritz von Guildhausen made a great point on a recent Third Rail episode by highlighting the grotesqueness of an Afghan or Somali in traditional Norwegian dress. Would I be Norwegian, I would in fact find it obscene. Simply being born in Norway does not make one Norwegian—this is a distinct ethnicity that has evolved over thousands of years, so in many respects the notion of appropriation has validity. A white guy in a dashiki is just as grotesque. A nation is not simply an arbitrary set of boundaries; it is a sacred entity that is the individual Norwegian writ large. It is, try as the Left may to denigrate and cheapen the concept, all about blood and soil. One may make modifications to or improvements on their home, but should one demolish it and build anew, well, it’s obviously not the same home, is it?
Allowing our lowest common denominators at places like The Root to engage in endless cultural policing in lieu of an actual culture is for us a civilizational dead end. Black culture in America is little more than superficial—entertainment, fashion, slang—and nothing of substance—innovation, literature, art—that goes beyond bare rudiment. It remains arrested by grievances that are at minimum seventy years old. It is but for its brain-addled “music” and mangling of basic English a criminally-inclined dinosaur, a hostage of time that would still be in the Stone Age if it weren’t for colonialism, and yet whites have decided to bestow upon them an unquestioned moral high ground despite their being the most deviant, degenerative, and violent group on the planet (aside, perhaps, from Australian aborigines, who for fifty thousand years were unable to make the correlation between pregnancy and sexual intercourse).
A confident civilization will police that which it hold sacred from its distinctive cultural markers such as traditional dress to, even more crucially, taboos, norms, and structure and order, and a weak civilization will allow for its own defilement and demolition. It is vital to understand precisely where the aforementioned elasticity becomes permissiveness. All of a culture’s individual strands contribute to its make-up, with a free, vibrant exchange of ideas that ideally interact and co-mingle in the public and private spaces and create these unique and distinct cultures across time and place. This isn’t an argument for relativism where all concepts and practices are created equal, but where they are given the room to breathe, the cream will inevitably rise. The cultures that flourish are confident, and powered by dynamic individuals and innovation; intellectually impoverished and restrictive cultures stagnate or die. Our current social environment demands everything become a kind of purity test, and this notion is tremendously damaging to the creative and innovative impulses of our society. If there’s one thing the Muslim world has taught us, it’s that, like a drug, too much “purity” can be fatal.