The Kreayshawn complex: cultural appropriation as counter-cultural expression

March 7, 2012 § 38 Comments

Kreayshawn is a white girl rapper from Oakland, California who sloppily slings misogynistic, hedonistic rhymes and whose crew “White Girl Mob” throws about the n-word for extra charm. This post isn’t specifically about her, but more generally about cultural appropriation and racial fetishism, mostly in relation to hip hop. I’ve been motivated to write on the subjects from my experience in various white-centric social circles where countercultural identity and politics seem not to counter these unacknowledged racisms but rather to embrace them as forms of transgression.

Last year Romy Hoffman (aka Macromantics), white hip hop-esque performer and Grouse queer party promoter, created an exhibition called “Blacklustre”. Fetishising race and struggle, the show was promoted with the tagline “Black is better than white. Huey Newton is better than Isaac Newton. Tu Pac Man is better than Pac Man.” along with the trivialising image of Pac Man in a bandana as ‘Tu Pac Man’. The promo did not explicitly disclose her white privilege, though it could be deciphered from the white-centric wording claiming the show to be “an investigation of otherness, minorities and white guilt”.  Backed by her social status as a queer political / intellectual performer and party promoter (as well as her white and class privilege that has also supported these careers) it seemed there was no challenge to this supposed “celebration of black thinkers and culture in today’s pop world”. “Blacklustre” illustrated a white person’s reductive ideas about blackness for other white people. It doesn’t benefit people of colour to see issues of race and the associated struggles fetishised through a white-centric lens – instead it invalidates and commodifies these struggles. Yet, the voice of white artists ‘celebrating’ and ‘investigating’ the expressions of people of colour has historically had cultural currency greater than the creative work of people from the cultures they appropriate. It should be obvious that racism has informed this history and that white artists can’t simply disconnect from that history by labeling their appropriation as appreciation.

Yet white artists, musicians, performers, fashionistas, etc seem to feel nothing less than entirely entitled to pillage the forms and aesthetics of  ‘other’ cultures as they please and to then be celebrated and financially rewarded for their ‘edginess’. White people seem to find endless novelty in watching white people, like Kreayshawn, interpret and repackage hip hop culture, but these reductive representations are ultimately dehumanising for the people whose cultures they imitate.

To be a person of colour, moving in hip hop heavy environments (that in Australia are most often white dominated on the stage, deck and dancefloor) means to navigate a minefield of compromise and risk. I am consistently the subject of racial fetishism for my brownness. This has happened in an even more overt way at queer parties than it has at the hetero-centric live hip hop gigs I occasionally attend. Between Grouse, Danceteria and several queer house parties I’ve had my skin be the subject of white people’s endless monologues, had my ethnic identity interrogated and have been touched, stroked, arse slapped, grinded on, and worse, all without my consent. These latter things may happen to white bodies too, but I have little doubt of the connection between the music played and how my body has been racially sexualised, how I have been exoticised to an increased degree in these environments.

Even when I’m not actively having my physical boundaries crossed, it requires disconnection to feel enjoyment whilst being nearly entirely surrounded by white people, many of whom parade parodies of blackness on the dancefloor. Even when I’m not culturally linked to the cultures appropriated (I’m a non-black POC), as a person of colour I’m reminded of my own position as exotic ‘other’ in white supremacy. The consistency of cultural appropriation doesn’t surprise me, but it does affect me, whilst white people don’t expect to be challenged on their entitlement and react with surprise and defensiveness on the rare occasions that they are pulled up. To set the current ‘exotic’ scenario of Melbourne… White people decide to throw an ‘80s African Dance Party’ with prizes for ‘best African inspired costume’ and a hipster dance troupe, The Real Hot Bitches, performing an ‘African inspired’ dance routine (with queer party Danceteria’s DJs supporting). White people open a Tiki bar ‘Luwow’, creating the appropriative carvings for their “traditional Polynesian bar” so they can have a “feast of exotica!”. White people continue to wear Native American headdresses, Afro wigs and dreadlocks. White people put on nearly all of the hip hop and dancehall gigs and parties though they’ll often use an image of (often seemingly random) black people on the flyer. White people are usually on the decks, mostly playing black music. White people are the promoters who have the financial and social capital to bring out the international POC acts. White people make themselves the cultural ambassadors of blackness and other racial ‘otherness’ to white people. The white-faced presentation might make them more comfortable in their consumption of otherness, but it underlines my own otherness in this white-centric world.

In choosing to identify as ‘outsider’ in relation to broader dominant culture, white people may wish to validate their transgression by appropriating racially marginalised cultures, without acknowledging how that appropriation could stereotype, homogenise, objectify, commodify, exoticise, distort and invalidate those cultures. Usually believing they are simply ‘celebrating other cultures’, they act as if unaware of their privilege in benefiting from power dynamics set in place from centuries of imperialism, racism, exoticism, capitalism and colonialism. They may choose to believe they are disconnected from the forms of oppression that their ‘appreciation’ reinforces, but even their sense of entitlement to have their experience of ‘other’ cultures prioritised is symptomatic of white supremacy.

In the white-centric queer / radical circles I have often moved within, it seems that there is a general will to believe that ‘the community’ can be disconnected from the oppressions of broader culture. In these spaces, politics regarding sex and gender might be discussed foremost, anti-capitalist and anti-racist agendas may be touted, yet cultural appropriation and racial fetishism seem to be embraced with as little examination as in environments considered less highly politicised.

In queer / radical scenes, expressing political consciousness and emphasising your oppressions, not your privileges, earns status in the social hierarchy, even as those privileges invisibly add value. Hip hop aesthetic and swagger, furthering identification with especially black as well as other POC culture and resistance, seems a popular mode of expressing and authenticating a ‘revolutionary’ or countercultural identity. This is deemed relevant by people’s own experiences of oppression. However this is done by white people without an understanding of the lived experience of racial oppression and in denial of their own inescapable connections to that oppression.

Much of the cultural appropriation I witness is done by people who consider themselves non-racist, in the belief that what they’re doing benefits the people whose culture they’re appropriating as gestures of acceptance and awareness. When the member of The Real Hot Bitches dance troupe was called out over organising the queer “80s African Dance Party” her defenses were along the lines of ‘I’m not racist, I love African culture’ and ‘I’m not racist, I work to help minorities’. (The person has since deleted the facebook event, including the criticisms and her defences, and amended the name of the event and description, slightly). It seems that the rush is always to defend an anti-racist identity, to clarify how white people’s intentions have been ‘misunderstood’, thus turning the discussion of racism back into one about white experience. This is done above acknowledging how behaviours may be problematic and hurtful to people of colour. It would be refreshing if white people who wish to be allies to people of colour would begin by de-prioritising their own voices. Surely that is necessary to a conversation about them prioritising their experience of ‘other’ cultures over ‘other’ cultures’ experiences of ourselves. Wai Ho of Mellow Yellow blog suggested offering this generous challenge…

“While we can understand the lovely benevolent, rather naïve, sentiment of combating racism and raising awareness by “celebrating other cultures” via racial/ethnic themed parties, maybe our queer communities are able to take that desire a step further. In the same way that men don’t fight sexism solely by having sex with women, or by throwing a women’s party and dressing up as women, and dancing like women, I would encourage white allies to progress their desire for the end of racial oppression by discussing with (people of colour) how to do that in a meaningful way.  I would press the importance of white allies getting together as white people to educate themselves about the myriad of racial dynamics, and constructive ways in which to address those privileges, benefits, blindspots and power laden frameworks.”

I haven’t seen much evidence that most people in Melbourne’s queer / radical ‘community’ have the willingness necessary for self-education nor are ready for conversations on terms that I would find empowering and productive for change. My experience has been that white people want to set the terms for what they believe is ‘constructive’ conversation, believing it a generosity on their part if they are at all ‘open’ to being individually educated, without ever doing their homework. These conversations further diminish my sense of agency as a person of colour to build new senses of ‘community’ and to initiate broader change from a non white-centric viewpoint.

There are few people who are willing to challenge those with power in the social hierarchy, especially on problematic race politics (or gender politics… or any others) whether or not they acknowledge any dodginess privately. Meanwhile, when queer people of colour speak up we are most often labeled angry and irrational, are mocked and patronised and otherwise silenced. Apparently we’re just spoiling the party for everyone else and it seems that most people would rather not challenge people with social currency, nor assess their own attitudes, if it would mean missing out on any party. Are the social repercussions and associated emotional stress of speaking about problems within a ‘community’ worse than those we have from trying to feel a sense of belonging to a ‘community’ that’s not addressing these problems? Personally, I can’t imagine that they could be, but I have hesitated in publishing this post with this poem.

The title of the following poem is perhaps a person of colour in-joke. White people’s minds tend to homogenise any brown skinned babe into the brown skinned celebrity of their choice (or ‘Asian’ babe into ‘Asian’ celebrity etc) regardless of your actual racial or ethnic similarity and often barely related to your physical resemblance to that celebrity. This rarely happens to white people unless there’s striking resemblance. However, some QPOCs I know decided that the catchall term for every  white person who appropriates hip hop culture should be a ‘Kreayshawn’. There needs to be a term for white people who seek out people of colour as lovers and friends for social and/or political credibility, and producer Diplo’s name and associated reputation serves this purpose well. Maxine Clarke suggested making a (no pun intended) ‘blacklist’ of suspicious white people such as these Kreayshawns and Diplos (feel free to contribute via comments or private message). And yes, white people; you can be both a Kreayshawn and a Diplo. You might already be on the VIP guestlists for both.

**warning: contains sexual hip hop profanity **

Did anyone ever tell you that you look like Kreayshawn?

hip hop:
your ready-to-wear

buy into blackness
coz we’re all hoes and bitches
fucked by the dollar

notions of race
drastically reduced
to bling and swagger

just coz you
fuck bitches or fuck gender
don’t make you the n-word of the world

adopt the fierce costume
gimmick equates your struggle
now you gotta be heard

ethnic flava
to your dull dish of whiteness
adds that sought out spice

a skin you can shed
to maintain mainstream
whenever you desire

meanwhile it’s proof
you’re an outlaw youth
with disdain for the majority

fear made racial barriers
your fascination breaks them
frees you from history

in your willing embrace
guilt of the past erased
by desire’s domination

this tantalising taboo
set to transform you
and ease your alienation

imitation is
the whitest form of flattery
sold as wondrous novelty

highlight your black-lustre
but see your pale reflection
has greater opportunity

blackness celebrated
but white pockets profit
for discovering the party

appetites ready for
white hands to feed them
other cultures as hip consumables

diplos keep white hold on
the power and the purse strings
making consumption comfortable

while gathered around
is an ethnic entourage
to lend authenticity

when brown-skinned blackness
seems a momentary prize
is my presence complicity?

where exotic approximation
makes her so much like Rihanna
and me just like M.I.A.

when you push up front at OutBlack
and rush on stage to sissy bounce
nobody gets in your way

so rare is space without you
is your presence solidarity
or further occupation?

what cost to empowerment
when you take priority
with your appreciation?

as Florence Tate said
what do white people take?
everything but the burden

This poem and post references or is influenced by the following sources
bell hook’s essay “Eating the Other: Desire or Resistance” from “Black Looks: Race and Representation”
Greg Tate’s introduction ‘Nigs R Us or How Black Folks Became Fetish Objects” and Carl Hancock’s essay “Eminem: The New White Negro” in “Everything but the burden: what white people are taking from Black culture”
Minh-Ha T. Pham, Threadbared “Unintentionally Eating the Other” 
Wendi Muse, “It’s Complicated: DJs, Appropriation, and a Whole Host of Other Ish”
Sharp Tongue Charlie
Yoko Ono’s quote “Women is the n****r of the world”
Latoya Peterson, “Venus Iceberg X and the Ghe20 Goth1k Crew Call Out DJ Diplo for Musical and Cultural Imperialsm”
The Crunk Feminist Collective, “On Kreayshawn and the Utility of Black Women”
Bien Viera in Clutch Magazine “Kreayshawn: Another Case of Appropriating Black Culture
and for more homework..
Xan West “Does Kreayshawn Rep(resent) Oakland?”
Jessica Yee “Feminist Intersection: Ke$ha and the ongoing cultural appropriation and sexualization of Native women
Kjerstin Johnson “Don’t Mess Up When You Dress Up: Cultural Appropriation and Costumes
Julia Caron “The Critical Fashion Lover’s (basic) guide to Cultural Appropriation”
Jessica Yee “Indigenous Feminism and Cultural Appropriation”
(video) “Yellow Apparel: When the coolie becomes cool”
and for hip hop appropriation breakdown, Oz style
Busty Beatz Speakz
Renoriginal, “Hip Hop?? Yeah, Well You Can Stop: Exploitative Workshops Targeting Indigenous Kids”

Update Mar 2014:
Though all people of colour experience cultural appropriation, it seems that the relative severity of structural violence that Black people (and Indigenous people) experience is reflected in their cultural appropriation. I realise that as a ‘model minority’ person of colour I experience relative structural privilege, and benefit from, and am trying to unlearn, anti-blackness.


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§ 38 Responses to The Kreayshawn complex: cultural appropriation as counter-cultural expression

  • Maximus Po says:

    Thank you for coming up with this, long over due as i remember us discussing this. I shall Share all over!!

  • I moderate an anti-oppressive burlesque FB group and we’ve seen somuch of this in our respective burlesque scenes. the “I’m not racist, I’m celebrating your culture!” comment is especially common. urgh.

  • Harry Giles says:

    I like what you’re saying; I think it’s bang on.

    That said, I think it’s worth adding that race isn’t the only relevant category of the identity, isn’t the only problematic dividing line that needs analysing when you’re talking about cultural appropriation and racial fetishism. The other big one is class.

    I can’t speak with any reliability on identifications outside of the UK, but I do know that here the appropriation of / identification with black culture is very different for middle-class and working-class people. It feels different when a middle-class white artist appropriates black culture and when a working-class person does so. The former seems to me more about perverse guilt and an ironic/post-ironic aproach to anti-racism; the latter is more about seeking empowerrment through an identification with a stronger identity. In Britain, working-class white identity has been eroded, undermined, rendered either ridiculous or invisible; working-class black identity is feared and demonised. I don’t know if there are analogues and parallels in the US, in Australia, in other countries. I’d like to know what you think.

    Again, presenting this not as criticism but as expansion. I don’t think class is the more important category to consider; I do think your analysis has some boundaries, is limited partially by class, and I’d like to think about this more.

    • harshbrowns says:

      I don’t feel qualified to comment more broadly on the parallels in Australia (maybe another visitor might like to), but yes, while seeing white Australian middle class kids act like ‘gangstas’ seems heavily bogus, it does read differently when a working class white person identifies with blackness. I get that identification you’re talking about, just as I understand why white queers (of any class) want to be identifying with black queers, it is obviously “about seeking empowerment” and greater visibility, but I think I’ve already articulated how the expression of this identification can be problematic, even if I haven’t discussed how class factors specifically.

      The Carl Hancock essay “Eminem: The New White Negro” in Greg Tate’s “Everything but the burden” (the book’s linked to in footnotes) breaks what you’re asking down in a US context more articulately than I can. What does it mean when someone like Eminem (or someone local that I’m not quizzed up enough on in the Oz scene to name if there is a parallel), who was socialised poor/working class in around predominately black people of similar class, identifies with and becomes a hip hop super star? Definitely he has the “Hey wow look at this white boy who can rap like/better than a black guy!” (“and is friends with all these black guys!”) factors that has contributed to his success; his white privilege has put him that step further than the black people he grew up rapping with.

    • omaxine says:

      Harry, historically in England, wasn’t it the white working class mass which mobilised against black migrants? I’m talking Sir Walter Mosley, the Teddy Boys and the ’58 riots (just to start with)? Black working classness is feared in the UK because blackness is feared worldwide. Black youth are always ‘no-fear uneducated hoodlums with guns’, but you seem to be asserting that this is somehow an ‘identity’?

  • The most virulent white responses to my writing have been when I wrote about cultural appropriation/ fetishism.The amount of whitsplaining, denial, guilt and outright hostility I contended with was beyond belief. You’re analysis about white ignorance of historical power structures is so spot on I want to make a poster. And love love LOVE the poem. Thank you for this well-written and powerful piece.

  • Foley says:

    Brilliant. As always, love your work, and you have hit the nail on the head again.

  • robyn lucienne says:

    the fashion industry depoliticises movements to make authentic into phony

  • Fact Checker says:

    I’m no fan of Kreay, but as far as I know, she does NOT use the n-word, nor condone it’s use. Her friend is known for using the n-word, she is not. If you have evidence to the contrary, please present it. Otherwise you should remove that from your post. And yes, it does matter. Thanks.

  • jenjen says:

    Thanks so much for this, and all the further reading. You rock.

  • Belinda Borell says:

    Wow Texta. This is amazingly clear analysis about a range of issues I have often thought about but not had the words to define as clearly as you have here. Thank you so much for posting your thoughts and poem and references. Very important stuff.

    Thanks also for the great collection of posters, cards and playing cards you gave me at the Decol hui in Auckland in February. I have passed on a few of your things to my brother and other Maori and Pacific artist friends. I will also forward them your blog and maybe they will contact you too. I can think of about 10 Kreayshawn s here in NZ off the top of my head!

  • theuglybird says:

    Texta-sister, you are bang on here. Thank you for your insight & brilliance. I know we have discussed these issues a few times and as artists and women of colour we have responsibilities that white people will never have to contend with or confront.
    You have guts & integrity, much love & respect

    • harshbrowns says:

      Thanks Paola. Checked out your show at City Gallery again the other day, such a great example of Indigenous self-(re)-representation. Especially love your brilliant photographic contribution, Gordon Hookey’s work, and the kids’ (and others’) critiques of the ‘Incident’ painting, though it’s the installation of it all together (and with the leaves!) that makes each memorable part into the memorable whole.

      big love and much respect to you

      Here’s the link to the show, for those who want to see it

  • misskellylee says:

    Thanks for this. Good brain food.

    I;ve been wondering about how the fluid and contested nature of identity, with all it’s intersections with history, community and society, and how to document the process of identity interacting with the diverse range of other identities, and create dialouges about the changes that occur everytime these interactions take place…

  • A Sex Worker says:

    its so important that we call out other artists, performers, musicians, activists and politicians when they claim to be a “friend” of a social movement & are instead eroticising it for their own gains; status, power, class….

    And i think its really important on the Melbourne scene to question big acts like Macromantics and others….. why arent other scene critics coming out with the same questions about race that you have raised? Because those questions become invisibilised, ina web of silence; to raise these questions points out the power that racism has on the alternative music scenes in Australia.

    Great article, much needed.

    I wasnt ready for the “Bitches & Hoes” … ‘sell outs’ part of your poetry; I embody ho & bitch and selling out (fucking the dollar) as a power statement of whore pride, but I dont think you meant that in your poem. Whorephobia as you have described it… do you mean it as rescue fetish? or eroticisation? or tittilation? or as the representation of a stereotype? or all of the above?

    When i read “bitches & hoes” it felt a little to me like how your article describes how you feel when you see white people re-represent non-white cultures through stereotypes.

    During the slut walk preparations, there were really strong discussions between organising committees and POC feminists and groups who (rightly) felt that that north american slut walk goals didnt relate to the needs of POC communities. Laws and legislation in relation to sex and gender disproportionately affect POC, sex workers, and particularly sex workers of colour. Whorephobia is felt more keenly by POC, particularly mjgrants. the stereotyope of the bitch and hoe is embedded in all legal, social power networks in a deeply fucked up psychic way. I think its good to examine how the archtypal images of “the bitches & hoes” affect us in a material sense (in language, in power structures). Thats a bit off topic but i really enjoyed the rest of the piece!

    I will spam it to all & sundry!

    from a fierce bitch & hoe

    • harshbrowns says:

      I was wary about putting the ‘hoes and bitches’ line in there or how to warn about it exactly, I realise how that can impact when used out of context by people not themselves identifying as and reclaiming the word ‘ho’.

      I was hoping the lyrics “buy into blackness/coz we’re all hoes and bitches/fucked by the dollar” were contextualised adequately, meaning it as a reference to the use of those words by rappers such as Kreayshawn whose lyrics are ho and bitch heavy, and as this article describes “a category she is somehow exempt from via her whiteness and sometimes queerness”. Rather than intending to directly reference sex work, i’m talking about the use of those words in hip hop (often used with misogyny and whorephobia) and whether that’s a racialised idea when white people use those words. i’m talking about another form of ‘fierce’ appropriation, white people identifying with blackness, and the (commodified) sexualisation of black women in hip hop and otherwise, and how that might be seen as justified by some because we’re all under capitalism (‘fucked by the dollar’).

  • Sarah says:

    your writing is so astute and on par texta. Thank you for the insight and for articulating the uneasiness that most QPOCS experience in supposed ‘(white) safe spaces’. i’m looking forward to the autonomous QPOC dance party that pandie and I have been looking to organize.

    also that poem is a favorite.

    • harshbrowns says:

      Thanks Sarah, yes! I really look forward to trying make a space to party in relative peace. Well it will be relatively rawkous also, but I think you know what I mean!

  • keg says:

    Texta. i feel sometimes your communication in past conversations with you gets a bit caught up as there’s almost too much you want to say all at once – but this has total clarity – you have always been an amazing writer and this piece nails it! Reading this and the comments makes me feel not so alone.
    In relation to this part:
    “It doesn’t benefit people of colour to see issues of race and the associated struggles fetishised through a white-centric lens – instead it invalidates and commodifies these struggles.”
    Why do so many white people find this hard to understand? because it seems pretty obvious to me.
    Thank you SO much for writing this.
    Love you!

  • julesnox says:

    Texta, you present a robust, resonating Truth.

    A truth also frequently experienced personally by me and others we know.

    The whole piece is solid.

    I intensely agree with your thoughts that… “It would be refreshing if white people who wish to be allies to people of colour would begin by de-prioritising their own voices”.

    This is a crucial element I observe white allies are not comprehending.

    • harshbrowns says:

      Thanks Jules. It’s you and the ‘others’ (!) we know that have written it too, through our conversations. Yes, I think that element of de-prioritising their voice is most definitely not understood. Too many white people don’t know how to have a conversation they’re not driving, try to give directions when they don’t have any idea where we’re going, when they should sit down quietly in the back seat and be grateful they’re even on the ride. (or other less destination based metaphor)

  • Lucian says:

    This is brilliant. Thank you for the reality check.

    — A queer white guy —

  • lil louis says:

    So spot on in regards to Melbourne and it is so hard to challenge the status quo when I’d have to say 95% of Melbourne whites are racist. So much unquestioned fetishisation of a skin colour, can’t let it go unquestioned anymore. 80’s African dance party??? what the heck were they thinking.

  • Palmares says:

    I guess Melbourne’s a big place, but I was totally unaware of this so called “80s African dance party”. Yuck. Reminds me of when I went to a crimethinc convergence in the US and a bunch of APOC folk called out some whiteys performing an “African” dance…

    I really dig what you’re written here. I actually found this via the clutch magazine article.

    Cultural appropriation is such a can of worms though. Figuring out exactly where the lines are drawn is difficult. I guess it’s in the nature of it being social (not exclusively however), just as in race, or culture in general.

    What I will say though, in me thinking of these “Kreayshawns”, figuring out where they fit in this equation, and hence, where do I. For example, in my experience of various queer scenes around the world, such as in Melbourne, there is a clear fetishism of hip hop culture. For me, as a POC who grew up with hip hop as someone to connect to that I could actually identify with, it kinda feels like some people are “stealing” what is in fact mine. Honestly, I generally am not into White rappers. Hip hop is giving a voice to the voiceless. So it’s like, if you already have a louder voice (ie privilege – being White), then if you rap, then your voice will be so much louder than those who only have rap as their voice – only to be ignored anyway.

    It’s a strange “anti-racist” conundrum wrapped in a cute little hipster package. Ha.

    I’d love to expand on this more, but I don’t feel to rant right now.

    Thanks again for your insightful words.

  • Palmares says:

    Oh man, you heard of Iggy Azalea…? Like Nas say, hip hop is dead 😦

  • this was really great and affirming to read.
    i’ve had this question on my mind for a long time, and i’m curious as to what you think. since i read you identifying yourself as brown throughout this piece, where do you see yourself in the appropriation of hip hop? i ask because i want to know if non-black POC think about this at all. I’ve got a few queer non-black POC friends who dj, and emcee hip hop and hip-hopesque music, and I often feel this discomfort with their adoption of a clearly black aesthetic and culture. but there seems to be this notion or understanding that people of colour can borrow from each other, and especially hip hop culture, and it’s not an appropriative act. my gut reaction says different. but i’d like to hear what you’ve got to say on the matter.
    if you do identify as black, i’d still like to hear what you’ve got to say.

    • harshbrowns says:

      I’m brown not black, and yes, I have this question on my own mind quite a bit, more so lately. I’ve deejayed in the past and my sets included hip-hop/esque music, and part of me rarely deejaying anymore, besides making mixes for friends, is not only because I might have been the tokenised POC on the line-up, but also pondering the question of what my place as a non-black POC is in relation to hip-hop. It does feel different for me when another POC adopts aesthetics and culture related to my own cultural background than when it’s a white person showing or selling (the culture that colonialism has disconnected me from,) back to me. When non-black POCs adopt hip hop / black culture because of our own experience of racial oppression, is it parallel to white queers adopting similar because of their experience of oppression? Perhaps not quite parallel but I don’t feel it should be an unexamined act. Still pondering…

  • Wolf Medicine says:


    I’m sadly not familiar with Australia’s cultural/racial make up (I’m a black American woman who has lived in New York CIty for 9 years) but this post is seriously making me re-consider my 6 month trip down under that is planned for 2013. I was hoping to connect with queer folk down there for a little R&R and creative inspiration.

    I grew up in the extremely racist/conservative state of Texas and since moving to NYC can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve had a racist encounter. Ok, maybe there has been more but in NYC you can be as confrontational as you want to be so I often feel entitled to address anyone I feel is out of line, when I feel they are being racist and/or misogynist.

    Thanks for the knowledge and what to expect from folks. Sounds like racial tension down there is intense.

  • culapp says:

    Reblogged this on John Brown's Booty and commented:
    Diplo’s the worst and Major Lazer is nasty.

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