Disconnect: The Gap Between Black Culture, and Black People

By Jaylin Paschal

Many cultural phenomenons originate in a special, uniquely beautiful realm one may refer to as "blackness." Countless genres of music--rock 'n roll, hip hop, rap, R 'n B, the blues, jazz. Countless hairstyles--box braids, locs, afros. Countless dances--from line dances to Vine dances. Countless fashion trends. Countless popular phrases or terms. Countless viral tweets, videos, memes and other mediums of content. Black culture is impenetrable; a force to be reckoned with. It is admired from within and from afar. It is, whether you admit it or not, the driving force of creativity right now--from entertainment to communication to art. Black culture is a loved culture.

Black people, however, have a different existence.

It has always been interesting (and frustrating) to me that one could love black culture, and not black people. I'm bothered by the fact that white woman "rapper" Iggy Azealia lives off of black culture but does not acknowledge the black condition. I am annoyed by white men who love hip hop but disregard all of the mentions of social struggles in their favorite songs. I don't quite like the white art curators who marvel over Basquiat, yet turn their backs on the young black men living lives similar to that of the late artist. I have low tolerance for those white people who frequently use slang that originated in black neighborhoods but are afraid to go to those neighborhoods.

There's something off here. There is a disconnect between a culture and a people--one that cannot exist sensibly. True appreciation for a culture must be rooted in an appreciation for the creators thereof.

Why is it non-black people are so willing to adopt the aspects of blackness they think are cool, but not willing to speak against the aspects of blackness that are not? The statement has been repeated between head shakes and long sighs for decades: "Everybody wants to be a nigga, until its time to be a nigga." If you want to sing with us--dance with us, play with us--march with us, too.

Because black culture is so, frankly put, gorgeous, it will never stop permeating boundaries. It will always bleed into the lives of those who live outside of this realm of blackness. It will always be admired by outsiders and onlookers. I am proud of this. I am so damn proud of this. However I will be prouder still when it is not just our culture that is appreciated, but ourselves as well. That is when appreciation will translate into more than appropriation, and more than phenomena.