Water is wet, Trump is President of the United States, and “white media” “vultures” black culture. Let us be honest with each other. We know this happens and it’s time to have fun and call it the hell out. “White media” has been cultivating practices and shaping influences from black culture for decades. To anyone wondering, the term “white media” essentially means white led mainstream media that caters to mostly white audiences. White media controls a large amount of what millions of people see on the screen, and thus can be a huge influence in regards to information. Anyone confused by this phrase can listen to “Power” by Kanye West (“…in this white man’s world/we’re the ones chosen…”) or simply look at any non-minority focused magazine at the grocery store, or hell, just google it.
Some may call it stealing, others may refer to it as a more technical term such as cultural appropriation. For namesake let’s call it “culture vulturing.” We see it every day in magazines, on TV, hear it in music, and see it projected on film. There’s a difference between sharing culture, being influenced by culture, and making it one’s own. When aspects of said culture are outright taken, claimed, and accepted as something it’s simply not…we’ve got a nice fun conversation on our hands.
15. Giving Dap
You see it all the time. Whether it’s a sports game, in politics, in music videos, during award shows, or President Barack Obama doing it on multiple occasions. It’s the proverbial “brotha” greeting; the black man’s handshake, aka Giving Dap. Except this particular form is executed when two opposite counterparts or comrades grab each other’s hands and proceed to bring each other in towards the insides of the opposite portions of their respective chests. THE HANDSHAKE (or dap) is successfully completed when the two individuals pat each other on the back with their free hand. There are multiple variations of giving dap and cool fun interpretations, but this is the one that is seen the most. Origins of the dap can be traced back to black soldiers who were stationed in the pacific during the Vietnam War.
14. Hip Hop
Hip Hop was born out of black culture and now has been said (according to Royal Open Society Science) to have more of an impact to music and pop culture in general than the ****ing Beatles, who many worship and regard as one of if not the greatest creative force to happen in music and human history. As rappers such as the legendary DMC said, Hip Hop means love and bringing people in the community together showing their skills and stepping their game up. Hip Hop has become more than just a genre, it’s an every growing culture that at its essence represents love, education, and storytelling via the art of rhythm and rhyme. That said, lettuce be honest white media has tried its absolute best to get echoes of the culture and call it its own. It even affects talented white rappers such as Eminem, who many (including John Bernie) put on their list of contenders for a GOAT rapper. He has been called the greatest rapper of all time when he himself has denounced it, knowing that there are other (black) rappers who deserve that distinction along with him. Unfortunately he gets the distinction of being called the “Elvis of Hip Hop” by many, and people ignore what he brought to the game by calling him “gimmicky.” Gangsta rap became “cool” and “marketable” and pushed by white media and white led record labels to earn cash. Gangsta rap isn’t as prominent as it once was, but that said, there is no doubt that White media loves to take pieces of Hip Hop and therefore take credit.
13. The Step Up Franchise
Does this even need a paragraph? Yeah, I said it and I’ll gladly say it again. THE-STEP-UP-FRANCHISE. There’s no surprise that this follows the last placement because, I mean come on. You have two white leads in every movie taking center stage doing dance battles with a dramatic backdrop in each movie. Street dancing is yet again, influenced from black youth throughout America. You won’t see black leads in a movie like this just yet because there’s no doubt Hollywood executives think it won’t correlate into box office cash. Now, there are millions (…and millions) of people who don’t know any better probably thinking that the style, dance moves, and overall tone from these movies were originated by white people. Thanks again white media! We’ll watch your movies, but there’s a line with cultural appropriation.
12. Fashion Trends
Elle Magazine announced that “Timbs” were a major fashion trend. Timberland boots or “Timbs” have been a staple of the Black community for years; worn for fashion sense and comfort. There have also been examples of white models wearing Durag’s or, excuse me, “Urban Tie Caps” which was so aptly named by Chanel. The funny thing is it’s not like these clothing options are foreign; they’ve been displayed in black culture for years via movies and music, so the (lazy) excuse that one hasn’t seen a black person before is out the window this time. This is an outright example of being a culture vulture and simply claiming something as yours when it in fact isn’t. This isn’t the first nor the last time this will happen. One has to wonder what will be “vultured” next. Maybe white T’s will make a comeback via Ralph Lauren and they could claim it’s a brand new trend! Yay!
11. Rock n’ Roll
As a black man who plays guitar and loves all kinds of music including metal, you get to hear (black and white) people complain that black people shouldn’t dabble in rock music and all of its sub-genres. While extremely ignorant, that’s all well and good except one huge fact; BLACK PEOPLE PLAYED A MAJOR PART IN THE CREATION OF ROCK N’ ROLL. There’s no Rock without Blues, period. And the pioneers of Rock n’ Roll included the likes of Chuck Berry (one of the greatest artists and guitarists of all time), Jimi Hendrix (considered by many to be the GOAT guitarist), and Little Richard, who we know never got his full due for his impact. Through the lens of White media and just in general it’s foreign for the ill-informed to see black people participate in genres of music that aren’t Hip Hop and R&B.
10. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s The Heist Winning Best Rap Album
First off, I love Macklemore and I love Kendrick Lamar. Both work their asses off and are immensely talented. Macklemore had been performing for well over a decade before he and Ryan Lewis blew up with the hilarious hit “Thrift Shop.” So he isn’t just some gimmicky white rapper, he spits truth as he sees it. Their album, The Heist, was certainly worthy of being nominated for best rap album. The problem was, Kendrick Lamar, probably the hottest mainstream rapper of the year in terms of features and lyricism, released his landmark major label sophomore effort Good Kid, M.A.A.D City. When Macklemore won, the rap community went into an uproar claiming that Kendrick deserved to win and it was just another example of the Grammy’s being too white and awarding a white artist in a category dominated by black people. Most people would say Lamar’s work was a better album than The Heist. The controversy was so large that Macklemore himself texted the Compton-based rapper saying he was robbed and that he wanted Kendrick Lamar to win.
9. Whole Foods Telling Everyone They Should Eat Collard Greens
Whole foods probably didn’t mean to offend anyone when posting on their Twitter recipes on how to cook collard greens. That said, Whole Foods is a grocery store, and while it appeals to hipsters that can afford it, everyone can and does enter whole foods, including black people. Whole Food’s Twitter post came across as if they had come up with some brand new recipe that was the climax of greens. Newsflash white media, black people have been eating greens forever and this “discovery” isn’t anything groundbreaking, in fact, it’s rather old. This latest entry shows an inadvertent if not pompous subliminally arrogant message of “whatever we say goes, who bothers to care where our amazing new recipe comes from, even if a sizable portion of our audience knows what we’re talking about. They’re not us! Woo!” Okay, maybe that was a little over the top? There’s nothing wrong with sharing and experiencing each other’s food, but considering the entries on this list and how much “culture vulturing” exists in regards to black rooted trends, I welcome the add.
8. Mainstream Magazines Featuring White Models Using Black Hairstyles
The three mainstream culprits of this are Elle U.K., Teen Vogue, and Allure Magazines. Elle U.K. proclaimed that popstar Katy Perry inspired the popularity of “Baby Curls,” which is a hairstyle that was popular amongst black women years ago. Next up is Allure Magazine which had a feature telling white women how to get an afro, titling it “you too can have an afro, even if you have straight hair!” The feature didn’t outright say “Hey, white ladies this is how you can get an afro!” but it did feature a Caucasian model sporting a hairdo that is a huge component of black culture in terms of identity even stemming to political territory. Last but certainly not least, Teen Vogue featured a cover story on Kylie Jenner in which she sported fake dreadlocks. Kylie was “edgy” and “hot” according to the magazine that caters to teen audiences. Meanwhile when actress Zendaya wore the same hairdo in following months she was criticized by E!’s Fashion Police, apparently looking like she smelled like weed or patchouli oil (credit to Huffington Post). Double standards White media, double standards. Tsk, tsk.
7. Iggy Azalea Runs Hip Hop…According to Forbes Magazine
According to Forbes magazine, a magazine that caters to entrepreneurs and the life of the wealthy, Iggy Azalea ran Hip Hop. Iggy Azalea is a blonde woman from Australia who came on the scene via YouTube and her successful mixtapes with internet hits including “Pu$$y.” She also sported mainstream model looks and came packing heat from the back (Iggy Iggy Iggy, can’t you see? Sometimes those curves just hypnotize me). Her relentless flow combined with her looks made the industry take notice. She was signed to southern rap icon T.I.’s label Grand Hustle Records and her features on singles led to her huge debut studio album The New Classic, which featured the monster hit “Fancy” along with “Work” and “Black Widow Baby.” Iggy no doubt made her mark but cracks in her armor began to show when white media championed her as the woman who ran Hip Hop, completely shunning Nicki Minaj, who is one of the most popular artists in all of music. People caught on and denounced the proclamation, forcing the magazine to change its original title due to its “offensive” nature to black culture. This is yet another cause of white media “vulturing” black culture. Don’t sweat it though, I still dig ya, Iggy.
6. Adele Being Deemed The New “The Queen of Soul”
I have defended Adele to other black people who claim that she’s only popular because she’s white. Let’s not get it twisted, Adele is an amazing talent. She has one of the best voices out there. 21 is one of the best albums ever. “Rolling in the Deep” is one of the greatest pieces of contemporary music I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. But she is NOT the new “Queen of Soul.” I have seen attempts in newspapers and magazines to dub Adele the nickname and the mere fact it was even an attempt is the main reason it’s this high on the list. There is only one Queen of Soul and that is Aretha Franklin. This is a huge example of white media stripping something that is rooted in black culture and claiming it as theirs. Any person with any amount of intellect can see that Adele is influenced by black music, which is great, until her mainstream backers try to say she’s the apex of a genre that is dominated by black people. While Adele is one of the best out there, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
5. Justin Timberlake’s Entire Music Career
Rolling Stone proclaimed Justin Timberlake as the new “King of Pop” in 2002 (yeah…right…). Mr. Timberlake is an entertainment force. He was able to thrive in the late 90s and early 2000s with N’ Sync (admit it you dug “It’s Gonna Be Me” and “Bye Bye Bye.” I will; that s**t was hot) and transitioned to an uber-successful solo career filled with multiple influences of black-fueled music. He can beatbox, he can dance with the best artists out there, and his falsetto makes panties drop everywhere. But make no mistake about it, if one were to look at white media led publications one would think JT created and is the leader of R&B and artists like Usher (who when comparing solo careers actually overall edges out JT) aren’t even on his level. White media had JT’s back during the 2004 Super Bowl incident with Janet Jackson. We heard nothing from him, but a legendary artist such as Ms. Jackson (if you’re nasty) gets scolded and her career, while better than 90% of other artists, hasn’t been the same since.
It also didn’t help when Black Twitter torched JT for his comments for Jesse Williams’ amazing speech that celebrated Black culture and was against cultural appropriation at the 2016 BET Awards. JT was reminded by #BlackTwitter that he wouldn’t be as popular if he wasn’t white, had a media machine behind him, and that he appropriated black influenced music for his entire career only to throw shade when things got controversial. We “can’t take no more” and “it ain’t no lie” Justin.
4. Boxer Braids
Braids, cornrows, and various styles rooted with this Black hairstyle have always been around, it isn’t anything new, and it isn’t going away anytime soon, except for when its “discovered” by white media led publications and paraded.
The popularity of boxer braids has been credited in part to the Kardashian family and female UFC fighters. The New York Post commented on Sasha Obama’s hair being twisted into “trendy parallel plaits (Teen Vogue).” The publication proceeded to proclaim that her hair style was fueled by the popularity of UFC fighters, despite the mention of having “ancient” African roots. And yet, it was a “new trend?” It’s no secret who pulls the strings when it comes to proclaiming movements as popular for false reasons, this is one of the latest exceptions. Simply put, white media, black people and notably black women have been wearing braids, forever, it’s not “new.” After a long list of “vulture” moments there’s no doubt why this has a higher ranking than other “offenses.” If you’re going to vulture another’s culture, at least acknowledge that you’re doing it and give some credit?
3. Miley Cyrus, “The Queen of Twerking”
Remember when Miley Cyrus began her whole “I’m a rebel former teen star who’s embracing being a sexy woman shtick?” Remember when Jay-Z said “…Twerk Miley Miley Twerk…” during “Somewhere in America” which was off his platinum album Magna Carta Holy Grail? Yeah…It started with “We Can’t Stop” in the spring slash summer of 2013. The former Hannah Montana star became a beacon of youth and simply not giving a ****, saying “to my home girls here with the big butts, shaking it like we at a strip club” while twerking during the iconic music video. At this moment Miley apparently became “the queen of twerking. There’s also that now infamous, even iconic (?) VMA performance with Robin Thicke where she proceeded to twerk in front of the R&B singer while sticking out her tongue. Miley became the face of twerking in 2013 and 2014.
In fact, you would think that twerking became popular in 2013 and that it was created by Miley Cyrus. Right? WRONG. Twerking has been a booty bouncin’ dance within the black community for years. It has roots to styles of dance in Africa. One could view twerking in multiple rap videos throughout the 90s and 2000s. Twerking has been mentioned in rap songs for years. S.M.H.
I know Rock n’ Roll was mentioned lower on this list, but the “King of Rock n’ Roll” deserves a placement all by himself. According to white media, Elvis is the be all and end all of Rock n’ Roll. While obviously immensely talented, Elvis basically represents why this list even exists. Black artists throughout the 30s, 40s, and 50s had danced and performed exactly like Elvis did. The problem was they were Black. Record labels didn’t want to push black artists. Enter Elvis, who learned his craft and was influenced by black artists. Once he brought it to TV it was controversial and game changing…for white people. Elvis in many ways represents an example of benefiting from a time where Black artists were held down in favor of other white artists by record labels nationwide. We know the name, we know the songs, we know the moves, but give a listen to Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power” and get a glimpse to what Elvis symbolically means to various portions of the black community.
1. Vogue Magazine’s “Dawn of the Butt”
Black women are known for their natural curves; Latina women are as well. In case anyone has been living under a rock lately, the curvaceous figure of a woman has been embraced by white media more than ever. It’s been embraced so much that Vogue magazine proclaimed that we are in the “era of the big booty” back in 2014. This misguided move sparked a fun clash with #BlackTwitter who made it known that having a donk is nothing new, especially for black women. Rapper Iggy Azalea, and the famous derrieres of Kim Kardashian and Jen Selter among others were celebrated and highlighted. To be fair, Beyoncé and Rihanna got shout outs too, but proclaiming that we were in an era of “booty” is a current display of the power that is white media; we’ve been in this era for well, a long time Vogue.
Talk about lazy reporting. Black women are especially known for their womanly assets and simply don’t get the shine in mainstream media compared to their White counterparts. If one were to ask or read a tabloid it would be as if “The Kardashian Body” is the standard for all women, when in fact their curves (while certainly appealing) are nothing groundbreaking. Now, it is super-duper cool to be thick, when in fact being thick has always been the standard in the black community. Congrats Vogue!