Cultural appropriation is not the sincerest form of flattery! On today’s episode, Alyssa and Brendane tackle the slippery concept that is cultural appropriation. In What’s The Word? they tackle the age old anthropological question of what is “culture,” and explain what cultural appropriation most certainly is not. What We’re Reading for this episode is bell hooks’ “Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance” to unpack how cultural appropriation serves a double duty, simultaneously reinforcing the power and dominance of the appropriator and it diminishing the value of the appropriated by objectifying and exoticizing elements of their way of life. In the What in the World?! segment, we discuss some reader questions and talk about Kahlil Greene’s TikTok series “How everything Gen Z does originated with Black people,” white women twerking and saying ‘gang gang,’ and the new film In The Heights by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Also, the book Alyssa mentions about red beans is actually Rice and Beans: A Unique Dish in a Hundred Places edited by Richard Wilk and Livia Barbosa. Oops!

Thank you all for an incredible year of the podcast! We’ll be back in September with a new semester. In the meantime, take care of yourself and each other. Asé

Zora’s Daughters Podcast: Episode Twenty

Co-Hosts: Brendane Tynes and Alyssa James

Title: Black Like Kim K: On Cultural Appropriation

Total Length: 01:10:24


[00:00:19] BRENDANE TYNES: Hey y’all! Welcome back to Zora’s Daughters, the podcast where we discuss popular culture through a Black feminist anthropological lens. I’m Brendane and I use she/her pronouns.


[00:00:28] ALYSSA JAMES: Hi everyone! It’s ya girl Alyssa, also using she/her pronouns. It’s our last episode of the semester, last episode of the “academic” year. The Zora’s Daughters academic year. Like what!?

[00:00:42] BRENDANE: What!?

[00:00:43] ALYSSA: I actually learned recently that half of all podcasts don’t make it past episode fourteen, so here we are on episode twenty.

[00:00:50] BRENDANE: [Imitates gunshot sounds] Blop, blop, blop. We made it!

[00:01:00] ALYSSA: Today we’re going to be talking about cultural appropriation, bell hooks, twerking, “Gen Z slang”, In the Heights, and more!

[00:01:06] BRENDANE: Purrrr. I can see why so many don’t make it past episode fourteen though. This shit is hard work. We do all the reading, research, writing, scripting, social media, emailing, etcetera ourselves. But we could not, could not, have done this without all of you. So, thanks to everyone who has listened, shared, engaged, and donated to us. You have had a hand in helping us grow to this point, and we are thankful for each and every one of you.

[00:01:42] ALYSSA: We are! We are! I am grateful to have this space to learn, to mentor, and to be in conversation and make friends with people all over the world and across disciplines and subdisciplines. And there is so much more I would say but my Aquarius sun rejects further sentimentality.

[00:02:04] BRENDANE: Well, my Pisces moon has some sentimentality for y’all. We’ve been blessed to have our intern with us this semester, but she’s going off to bigger and better things. So, thank you, Menkhu-ta, for all you’ve added to this team and we’re going to be on break until September. In the meantime, we’ll be making big moves, working on ways to make the podcast and the ZD platform broadly better for all of y’all. We’ve been hyping it up for a few episodes now, but for real big things are popping and little things are stopping.

[00:02:36] ALYSSA: Big things are popping, and little things are stopping [laughter].

[00:02:43] ALYSSA: But if you feel like you might miss us, do not despair! We’ll still be active-ish on social media, so follow us at zorasdaughters on Instagram and zoras_daughters on Twitter. If you’d like to support the podcast, and the behind-the-scenes work we’ll be doing over the summer, you can leave a rating or review on Apple Podcasts, donate via PayPal, or purchase a book from our bookshop on which supports us and local bookstores. And of course, the links to that will be in the episode description!

[00:03:15] BRENDANE: And before I forget.

[00:03:17] ALYSSA: If you could not tell.

[00:03:18] BRENDANE: Right, this is a ZD first, Alyssa and I are actually recording in the same room and no, it’s not a Zoom room y’all!

[00:03:28] ALYSSA: Boop, boop, boop, ayyy. We are hanging out in the living room studio in Harlem. The living room is mine [laughter], not the name of a recording studio. And don’t steal that name—I’m sure it probably already exists [laughter]. But yes, so we are in Harlem, one of the US’s Black cultural meccas. And if it’s a center of Black American culture, then you know—you know it is a focus of white cultural appropriation too.

[00:03:53] BRENDANE: And still, I oop. Like, do we need to talk about the Harlem Shake meme while we’re here?

[00:04:00] ALYSSA: No, I don’t think so. That’s just [sigh]. We don’t need to do that. Let’s get into the episode, Brendane. What is the word?

[00:04:10] BRENDANE: So, our word for today is “cultural appropriation.”

[00:04:18] ALYSSA: Yes, I think that this one is a slippery one. Yeah, it’s a slippery one. I think that from what I’ve noticed about when people try to explain what cultural appropriation is, they focus on the appropriation part, which is completely valid. But I think we need to wrestle with the other word—culture.

[00:04:39] BRENDANE: Girl, that’s brave. Because you know anthropologists—we really don’t even have an answer to that question, we’ve been struggling for years.

[00:04:44] ALYSSA: I know! I know! It’s another slippery term. And I had a professor in undergrad, a historian, and she was like don’t write “culture.” She said this at the beginning of the class. She was like, don’t put “culture” in your essay, don’t even use the word “culture,” it doesn’t mean anything. Of course, she meant if you’re going to use “culture,” you need to be very clear about what you mean about it and so I continue with that and try to be clear with what’s meant by “culture” in every context because the whole concept of cultural appropriation has been critiqued for being ahistorical and contributing to essentialism and reductionism particularly because of that slipperiness. And so broadly, the way I understand culture is that it’s the lens through which we see the world. It’s the confluence of knowledge, experience, and behaviors that influence how you understand different situations and the choices that you make. So, it’s the kind of thing that makes scorpions food for some people and a dangerous insect to other people.

[00:05:47] BRENDANE: Ew and a dangerous insect to me. I feel like I agree with your definition. And I would add that culture is usually the tacit ways that we understand how to act and how to be around each other. So, you talk about behaviors, and I think it also encompasses how we truly understand spaces that we walk through. And so, sometimes these ways of acting and being cross geographic boundaries or you might observe similarities between what you might conceive to be different groups of people. One of the easiest examples that I can think of is the similarities between food among different peoples in African diaspora. You’ll find that in the Caribbean, in Southern Soul Food, and in West African food among others, they actually have a lot of the same ingredients or preparation techniques. I learned some of this from that Netflix documentary, High on the Hog, with that awkward host [laughter]. But some scholars would say that the similarities in food would come from similar ways of life.

[00:06:53] ALYSSA: Yes. I’m sure that there’s an anthropologist—I wanna say that it’s Franz Boas. But I just don’t wanna get it wrong.

[00:07:00] BRENDANE: I know, don’t let the stans come for us, please.

[00:07:05] ALYSSA: [Laughter] Yeah, I mean they talk about how the canoe, for example, is a thing that is representative of the way there are similarities across different cultures or different culture areas, one might say. But the fact that there are differences in how the canoe is constructed is representative of the environment that those groups people needed to adapt to. And if y’all are interested in foods and foodways and how they’re different and similar, there is actually a book—I believe it’s an edited volume by David Berris and Richard Wilk. And they are both anthropologists and they talk about how like there’s red beans in every culture in Latin America and the Caribbean, but they’re all cooked differently. Anyhow, so in the context of the term, you know, cultural appropriation, I think the word cultural is specifically referring to the signs, symbols, practices and products—whether they’re artistic or linguistic—that emerge from a particular way of life. That can include, but is not limited to, knowledge, dance, clothing, language, artifacts, music, food—as we were just talking about—religious or other symbols like tattoos, decoration, medicine or wellness practices—yes, we’re gonna come for you all with your sageing apartments [laughter].

[00:08:31] BRENDANE: Newly found Indigenous techniques and it’s like okay, [in unison] okay [laughter].

[00:08:39] ALYSSA: —um, makeup, hairstyles, things of that nature.

[00:08:42] BRENDANE: Yes, so in addition to this culture word, then we have to move to the question of appropriation. What does appropriation actually mean? And we can trace this back at least as far as Marx, who argued that the bourgeoisie appropriates the labor and the product of labor from the proletariat. Appropriation has various connotations and histories, but at its most fundamental appropriation is “the action of taking something for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission.” Let’s sit with that—the question of permission. And we’re gonna break it down. We gonna do an example, right. If you’re going to a Yoruba wedding and you’re asked to wear a gele and you have one designed and wear it in that context, then that’s not appropriation. You’ve been invited into the space and you’re showing respect for the customs. Now, if you—a person with zero cultural or relational ties to Nigeria—turn around and put these on a runway and then call them “infinity hats” because they can be wrapped different ways, then girl, that’s a problem.

[00:09:51] ALYSSA: [Laughter] Not infinity hats. [Laughter] And if we see that—if we see y’all doing that, talking about infinity hats like they’re dresses, those infinity dresses that can be wrapped twelve different ways—no. Don’t do it. We ain’t tryna see it. Mnm mnm [laughter].

[00:10:08] BRENDANE: Right? So, the question here is the main question that people always ask. And it’s, when does this borrowing slide into becoming problematic? In The Ethics of Cultural Appropriation, James Young and Conrad Brunk identify three moments when the appropriation of culture becomes an issue, all of which are grounded in the relationship between a dominant culture and an oppressed one. First one, acts that violate the property rights of a culture; two, acts that attack the identity and viability of a culture or otherwise contribute to undermining them; and three, acts that cause “profound offense” to members of the affected culture by not respecting their norms.

[00:10:50] ALYSSA: Hm. Interesting. I know that they’re one of the, you know, few people really trying to bring out and expand this idea of cultural appropriation, I’m still not crazy about this definition. So, there’s an opening for folx who are—like I wanna do some research—there’s definitely an opening there. Because I think property rights, there are a lot of groups of people who, for them property rights is something that comes out of a white western philosophical paradigm and for them property rights is like we don’t own, we don’t own. So there’s that. And then I think like, who defines what is a “profound” offense? What’s gonna be the limit? What makes something profound? Is a little bit of offensiveness, okay? [Laughter] I don’t know. But that’s me being an anthropologist but I think it’s on the right track.

On that note, I think it’s important to talk about what cultural appropriation is not. And so, acculturation which is the process of adjusting to a new cultural environment while retaining aspects of your primary culture—that’s acculturation. So, for example, if I move to Morocco and I start speaking darija, which is the local dialect of Arabic, then that’s not appropriation, okay. We’ll go back to the Nigerians since that’s what we’re talking about in this episode—even if they wear traditional dress back home—if they immigrate to the US and they start wearing Western clothing, that’s not appropriation. Okay? That’s acculturation. And so, acculturation has also been described by the anthropologist Alfred Kroeber as changes produced in a culture because of the influence of another culture, with the two cultures becoming similar as the end result. So that’s something akin to what we might call cultural exchange. I mean, you know, we’re gonna talk a little bit about like people in China wearing business suits that could fall under that definition of acculturation. Secondly—I didn’t say first but that’s okay, [laughter] y’all know—the next one [laughter] assimilation is not appropriation. Okay? And I have heard people be like, “well Black people speak English and they’re in America, isn’t that appropriation?” No. No, it is not.

Assimilation is when a minority group comes to resemble a society’s majority group, whether over time or by force. Irish immigrants to the US is one example; and then the descendants of enslaved Africans in America would be an example of assimilation by force. So no, Black people speaking English in the US is not appropriation, it’s survival.

[00:13:44] BRENDANE: Literally. Literally. What else we gonna speak?

[00:13:48] ALYSSA: And then white people using Black English, that’s not about survival. That is an exercise of privilege, even more so when y’all calling it “Gen Z slang”—we’re gonna talk about that later. So, Milton Gordon formulated a series of stages through which an individual must pass in order to be completely assimilated. Acculturation in his theory is actually the first stage in the series. And then to be considered “assimilated” the individual must be capable of entering social positions and political, economic, and educational areas of the dominant society.

[00:14:22] BRENDANE: Right. Cultural appropriation becomes problematic when there is an imbalance of power.  Just because the Chinese wear business suits doesn’t necessarily mean Europeans can wear qipao [pronounced “kee-pow”]. There is no mutual understanding or respect that would make that latter example an exchange, right, that’s actually equal and respectful. Cultural appropriation is not just the taking over of a minority group’s cultural norms, it’s the simultaneous erasure of that group’s association with the form or decontextualizing that cultural form. So, wearing a Native headdress to a music festival—there is no understanding, respect, or exchange there, you’re just essentially trying to treat it like a costume. Now, if you’ve been invited to a sweat lodge ceremony and you’re asked to wear a particular form of dress, that would not be appropriation. Right? You’ve been invited by that group of people to wear their own religious wear, right, so you respect the space. But if you put that form of dress on a white model on the cover of Vogue and call it the next big thing inspired by Marc Jacobs’ Fall 2005 show, no, that is appropriation. You know. You’re taking the symbols of a minority group, erasing their connection, and profiting off it in a way that would likely be denied to the originating group. This cannot happen in the reverse. Alright so, we talked about acculturation earlier, right? A nonwhite person wearing a business suit is not appropriation, it’s acculturation. So, if I’m doing something, as a Black woman, that is in line with the dominant culture, I can call that assimilation. So please, please stop with the “Black women appropriate white culture when they straighten their hair” mess. It’s—well those of us who are not natural, right—we straighten our hair because that’s what we’re told to do, it allows us to survive.

[00:16:17] ALYSSA: Mhm hmm, allows us to get hired, allows us to pay bills. Literally, that is part of survival. And of course, the concept of cultural appropriation has been critiqued for its essentialism, as I mentioned earlier. No one is saying that a “culture” can be reduced to any of these single elements. But one of the questions that we got when we kind of crowdsourced some questions from Instagram, was how do we differentiate appreciation and appropriation? And I’m not sure that it’s a useful distinction because I think that appropriators use it as a straw man, they’re like “Oh, I’m just appreciating!” But you’ve completely divorced the thing—the thing that you’re doing, that you’re appropriating—from its cultural context and then you’re calling it your own, or you’ve Othered it. And I wanna come back to that in a second. And so, when you do that, it seems like something “new.” It seems like it’s a product of the dominant’s group innovation and creativity, when really, it’s an effect of theft and their power to make something subversive popular.

[00:17:21] BRENDANE: Period.

[00:17:22] ALYSSA: Or it’s a tokenized, exoticized version that perpetuates othering or objectification. So I wanted to give an example that isn’t about profiting because I don’t want people to be like, “Oh, I can just, you know, have a fiesta and do all of these things, and like wear a sombrero, you know, and enjoy Cinco de Mayo.” And like, should we talk about Juneteenth getting Cinco de Mayo’d? Maybe for another day.

[00:17:50] BRENDANE: Maybe for another day. We just tryna live [crosstalk].

[00:17:54] ALYSSA: So, I wanted to give an example that doesn’t involve profiting but that actually perpetuates the othering. And so, okay, me—Jamaican-ish [laughter]. If I throw a party I serve Jamaican food, there’s gonna be Red Stripe, there’s gonna be Wray & Nephew, I’m gonna play dancehall music that people wine to, because that’s what we do, that’s what I do. That’s a party, that’s a bashment, that’s a jam, you know. That’s just what we do. So the line then is when some dominant group—I’m gonna say white people—if y’all start throwing an “Island theme party”—then that’s where the problem is. Because I don’t call mine an “Island theme party” or a “Jamaican theme party” because it’s not a theme, it’s just how I live my life. That’s how we party, it’s just a party. So, if y’all start putting sand on the floor and inviting people to wear dreadlock hats.

[00:18:53] BRENDANE: Coloring your faces.

[00:18:54] ALYSSA: Coloring your faces and then calling it a theme party. Now you’re exoticizing it and reinforcing the idea that to celebrate or spend time like this is not a “normal” way to do so.

{00:19:08] BRENDANE: Exactly. I actually think that’s a perfect transition into our next segment! Let’s get to talking about what we’re reading!

{00:19:13] ALYSSA: Yes, what we’re reading today is “Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance” by bell hooks. bell hooks is an author, scholar, and activist whose work examines the connections between race, gender, and class. Her pen name is based on the names of her mother and grandmother and is lowercase to emphasize the importance of the substance of her writing as opposed to who she is. In her work, she often explores the varied perceptions of Black women and Black women writers and the development of feminist identities. She has authored over 30 books, some of the most notable being Feminist Theory from Margin to Center (1984), Black Looks: Race and Representation (1992), All About Love: New Visions (1999), We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity (2003) and The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love (2004). hooks is the Distinguished Professor in Residence in Appalachian Studies at Berea College. And the chapter that we’re reading is an excerpt from her book Black Looks: Race and Representation which was published in 1992.

[00:20:14] BRENDANE: So, boom, hooks comes straight out the gate with a statement that I’m sure shook you as much as it shook me. Shook me so much the first time I wrote it down, I didn’t even finish the sentence. “Within commodity culture, ethnicity becomes spice, seasoning that can liven up the dull dish that is mainstream white culture.” Like, mm. Seasoning, like literal, we talk about seasoning all the time [laughter] and the appropriation of seasoning, but like culture as seasoning, ethnicity as spice, right. hooks very quickly lets us know where she stands on this. But it’s also an interesting thing because she talks about resistance and so, in this chapter she says that she sees a political revolutionary possibility in the recognition of difference, but she doesn’t see that possibility in appropriation. Especially when that appropriation becomes profit.

[00:21:17] ALYSSA: That makes absolute sense. As we were just talking about. We were talking about profit—here we go. In this text, hooks argues that cultural appropriation serves a double duty. That it simultaneously reinforces the power and dominance of the white people, and it diminishes the value of the non-dominant group. It objectifies and exoticizes elements of their way of life and makes them seem like they are the sideshow to whiteness when really, as CJ_Tarret said on Instagram, they are “untitled documents” [laughter]. Thank you, Tina, for that one.

[00:21:54] BRENDANE: Yes, hey, girl! [Laughter] White people, and other dominant groups, cannot erase the violent histories or hegemonic power structures simply by expressing a desire in the Other. hooks is very clear about that. Just cause you want us don’t mean that you can erase the violence and the power that comes behind that want. So, we’ve talked about before, about how the fetishization of the Other does nothing to break down problematic racial hierarchies. So, what hooks tells us is that “Mutual recognition of racism, its impact both on those who are dominated and those who dominate, is the only standpoint that makes possible an encounter between races that is not based on denial and fantasy.” And for me, I was like, hmm, what would that actually look like? Is there ever a point that we could point to in history where there was an encounter that was not based on denial and fantasy on all ends? From the dominated and the dominant. And if so, like what would that look like for us to do now? Where is that resistance now? I think people put it in interracial relationships or interracial children as a possibility of that, but I’m not quite sure.

[00:23:19] ALYSSA: That’s what I was about to say.

[00:23:21] BRENDANE: You know? I’m not quite sure. I feel like even in spaces where both sides or all sides can recognize that racism is happening, we still see racial power dynamics.

[00:23:33] ALYSSA: Exactly. I mean, go back to our last episode when we talked about Barack Obama. Go to the episode in our first semester where we talk about Barack Obama [laughter]. He’s the quintessential miscegenation-is-going-to-solve-racism person. So, there you go, that’s denial and fantasy all in one. But yes, I feel like #swirl Instagram would have a lot to say on it.

[00:24:03] BRENDANE: Oh, I’m sure.

[00:24:04] ALYSSA: [Laughter] If you don’t know what swirling is, it’s a term for an interracial couple and it’s derived from chocolate and vanilla swirl ice cream [laughter].

[00:24:15] BRENDANE: Which is—yeah, food. Food is at the center of desire. Yeah, food is at the center of this.

[00:24:23] ALYSSA: Y’all this is a little bit my bread and butter so I’m gonna have—in the syllabus, there’s gonna be some really great pieces. Consuming the Caribbean, which touches on this; there’s also Eating Other Words/Worlds by Celia Britton and the line that she said in that that like sat with me forever was “the way that we consume the Caribbean, everything about that region, has come to be associated with things you put in your mouth.”

[00:24:51] BRENDANE: Hmmm. Mmmmmm!

[00:24:52] ALYSSA: And it wasn’t just about food.

[00:24:54] BRENDANE: I know, I was getting ready to say. Hmmm.

[00:24:57] ALYSSA: So, read that essay [laughter]. Anyhow, hooks points out that if pleasure is derived in part by transgression, then fantasies about and desire of the Other is where the real fun is to be had. Part of us enjoying ourselves is doing something that is against the norms, right? And so, what is against the norm but that which is not the norm. And so, appropriation is tied up in desire too. It’s about wanting blackness, wanting power, but also wanting to escape the banality of whiteness. Yet, it is that whiteness—the untitled document, the tabula rasa or blank slate—that allows for a claim to cosmopolitanism. It allows for this appropriation to be appropriate. To be nothing is to be allowed anything. That is, being unmarked creates conditions of possibility. Usually that favorite turn of phrase is followed by for XYZ, “creates for the conditions of possibility for neoliberal oppression” or something like that. But that un-markedness is simply a state of possibility. Or if you want to go down the Deleuze [crosstalk] path, then you’re talking about potentiality.

[00:26:18] BRENDANE: Ew, not Deleuze, oh man [laughter].

[00:26:19] ALYSSA: Not potentialities. But don’t mind us [laughter], don’t mind us. But this claim to cosmopolitanism is just the idea that you’re framed by many global experiences and that is, of course, particularly attributed to white people. which is not in the Kwame Anthony Appiah meaning of the phrase, is just the idea that you are formed by many global experiences and is particularly attributed to white people, right. So it’s the same way that people say like, “Oh it’s great that our kids are bilingual, they’re learning French in school, they’re learning Chinese at school,” but when they’re talking about those kids, they’re talking about white people. And when there are actual students, other students, who are bilingual because they speak Spanish at home and English in school, that’s not at valued as the white kids who are learning French as a second language.

[00:27:04] BRENDANE: Right, they’re actually labeled as a child who needs additional assistance in school, right?

[00:27:06] ALYSSA: Yes.

[00:27:08] BRENDANE: That’s a special subset. It’s seen as a detriment to your education.

[00:27:12] ALYSSA: Exactly. So, who gets to be valued and who gets to have that seen as a detriment is racialized. In any case, desire for the Other is a symbol of one’s cosmopolitanism; they see themselves as non-racists not trying to dominate the Other, but to be changed by the Other—which is its own exercise of power. And then there are those cis Black men who are like, “I’m trying to be transformed by white women.” [Laughter] but I think that’s another conversation for another day [laughter]. The example hooks gives in this article is she’s walking behind these students who she’s pretty sure are students at Yale, because that’s where she is at the time, and they’re white men and they’re talking about all the different “ethnic” women they want to sleep with.

[00:28:09] BRENDANE: When I read that example, I say it took me the fuck out. I was like wow, this feels very similar to conversations that I have witnessed at Duke, where white frat members would talk about getting with different types of women. Some Black women and other women of color were targeted, they were called racist epithets in public, but then contacted privately for sex. And it was wild! Like many, many stories, I have heard about that. But hooks reminds us that desire is not just about who you want to fuck, right? It’s not. People reduce desirability to that but it’s not about that, just that. It’s also about power relationships. So, the inability to reverse that desire and to achieve the same effect—a Black man desiring a white woman and maybe accomplishing a relationship or not right, is not the same as a white woman desiring a Black man. It’s not the same effect. So that is what really opens up or highlights that there’s a difference in power along the lines of race and gender.

[00:29:16] ALYSSA: Yeah, I mean, they might believe—consciously or unconsciously—that those relationships will help them transcend their blackness, but then eventually they’ll realize that it doesn’t work. At the end of the day, someone is still going to remind you that you’re just a—

[00:29:29] BRENDANE: She might remind you.

[00:29:30] ALYSSA: Mmm, didn’t that happen? That happened at the Starbucks. Do you remember? Did you see that?

[00:29:38] BRENDANE: Yes.

[00:29:39] ALYSSA: The white woman was like, “You’re just a bitch-ass mnm,” in front of her mixed-raced children. Said that to a Black man in Starbucks. Okay, I’m sure you all heard about that. So, it’s like there’s someone who’s gonna remind you that you’re just that, that your mixed-race children are going to grow up to be the same “mnm” that that white woman terrorized in school. There is not a way. Meanwhile, white women—or white men, or white people—when they sleep with exotic Others they’re seen as cosmopolitan, open-minded, as being unquestionably not racist. Like, “There’s no way she could be racist, because she married a Black man, and she has two Black children.” No.

But I wanted to talk about one of the questions that we got asked, which is why do Asian people own most Black hair businesses in the U.S.? And it actually follows in Canada, in Toronto. And so, I’m not really sure if that’s a question of cultural appropriation, more so just capitalism. So, I did a quick bit of research, and it seems like in the sixties a lot of wigs were made in East Asia, especially Korea, and Black people were the major consumers. Around the same time the U.S. banned wigs made with hair from China, so Korea was then able to corner the distribution channels. And they wanted to make these wigs available to the biggest market—Black folx, right?

And so, in the documentary Good Hair, you also find out that there are still only a few distributors of wigs and bundles to the U.S., and they can hand pick who they want to work with, which is essentially other Koreans. Kyeyoung Park, an anthropologist at UCLA has some work about this. There’s also an ethnography called On My Own: Korean Businesses and Race Relations in America by In-Jin Yoon and those shed some light on the topic. And so, I think in this case, the remedy in this case is going to black-owned hair supply stores. But also, if you have natural hair—when I tell you, that you don’t need all the products you think you need!

[00:31:47] BRENDANE: Right. Capitalism has told us we need to have all these different hair products for our “unruly,” “unmanageable,” hair.

[00:31:54] ALYSSA: Exactly. I use three products on wash day, my wash day is not a day, it’s an hour. If you wanna know more, follow JenniferRoseNYC, CuseCurlfriend, and BrownSugarCurl and you’ll learn how to live your best life with just three products and a short wash day—a wash hour.

[00:32:17] BRENDANE: For real. And I think one thing I’ll add to the location in particular of Korean businesses in Black neighborhoods and things like that, is we have to think about the history of this country with redlining. And so, Black people were not able to own property in a lot of way because of anti-Blackness, because of racism, because of redlining, because of segregation, because of etcetera, etcetera. Alright, so you’re not able to get the loan, to buy the property to have your own business, but who is? Right? And maybe—I don’t know this history because I haven’t exactly studied Asian property rights but it’s possible, right, that Asian people were also excluded from buying property in white neighborhoods. So, it’s like, well we can’t let you have a business here, but you can have a business here, in this Black neighborhood. And we’ve talked about how anti-Blackness affects everyone, whether you are Black, white or not, in all of our episodes. So just thinking about how anti-Blackness allows us to complicate when we talk about redlining and segregation and the possibilities of that. [Crosstalk] To the hair thing, I got locs girl. I said, I’m tired of this life. All I do—I use a shampoo and that’s it. I use a shampoo in my hair and that it. I have one product, I braid my hair, wash it about 25 minutes and then I let it dry, and I do what it do. Wash day is no longer a thing for me. Someone else does my hair. I’m just free.

[00:33:51] ALYSSA: Love to see it. Supporting Black businesses too. Yeah, so, okay. That was a nice digression, as we are so wont to do! But I wanted to return to the question of capitalism and cultural appropriation. hooks is definitely speaking to both the implications of cultural appropriation and racism in global capitalism. Which is effectively how this whole Black hair products owned by majority Koreans came to be. So, she writes “When race and ethnicity become commodified as resources for pleasure, the culture of specific groups, as well as the bodies of individuals, can be seen as constituting an alternative playground where members of dominating races, genders, sexual practices affirm their power-over in intimate relations with the Other.” One of the examples she gives is that when Pepsi finds out that Black people love them some Pepsi, then they start marketing to Black people. So, they’re featuring us in their commercials, they’re doing things like that. Essentially, whenever it is profitable, white people will absorb, or eat the other, and make it their own.

[00:35:06] BRENDANE: Right, and it’s not only when it’s profitable, right? It’s also when it’s pleasurable.

[00:35:11] ALYSSA: Speak [unclear] [crash] [laughter].

[00:35:16] BRENDANE: Pow [laughter].

[00:35:18] ALYSSA: Oh, got excited, okay [laughter].

[00:35:21] BRENDANE: It’s not like people culturally appropriate begrudgingly or out of coercion. No one’s forcing you to get those box braids that don’t work for your edges. It’s a choice that feels good. They’re able to project feelings of pleasure, delight, even anger in some cases—when we think about, you know, the Boston Tea Party that everyone’s taught where they donned the headdresses and were able to act out their anger against being taxed. They’re able to project these feelings onto the image of the Other that they consume and then appropriate. So, “acting Black,” as an example of one of those things, allows them to feel something they couldn’t feel in addition to “being” something they couldn’t be. But the gag is, right, that the power to “feel” or to “be” the Other actually reifies that you are in fact white and have power. It marks the invisible power you have to take on other people’s cultural aspects while still remaining dominant. So basically, TLDR, by “acting” Black, one only highlight just how white they are.

[00:36:35] ALYSSA: Mm! This! This! And it’s not just that it’s because they seem like your high school teacher trying to be relatable! It’s a different thing—that ability to act Black is a product of whiteness. So, you’re reinforcing your whiteness by acting Black—which if you want to know more about, check out our episode, Not My Latinidad. That said, I think there was something she said that really made me pause—I’ll just read the quote ‘cause who could say it better than bell hooks? “Concurrently, marginalized groups, deemed Other, who have been ignored, rendered invisible, can be seduced by the emphasis on Otherness, by its commodification, because it offers the promise of recognition and reconciliation.” So, this is another reason—because we say this all the time—this is another reason why representation is not the end all, be all. There’s a caveat, right? And bell hooks says that “The acknowledged Other must assume recognizable forms.” So, Kamala Harris and the way she may have gone to Howard and all these things that everyone’s like, “Oh my gosh, this so is great, first woman of color! Great!”, but she is the Other in recognizable form because she “knows the right fork to use.”

[00:38:01] BRENDANE: Right, this part had me shook too. And there’s a flipside to this recognizable form—or maybe just another extension of it—the incorporated Other must still be filtered through recognizable forms. So, we talked about archetypes of Black women that we discussed in our Misogynoir episode, particularly Sapphire, Jezebel, and Mammy. And these usually become the lenses through which the appropriation of Black women’s culture is filtered. You don’t see white women culturally appropriating Black women with relaxers and business suits. They typically don’t pattern their speech after the respectable Black woman. They might call Michelle Obama their hero, but them acting like Michelle Obama is not them culturally appropriating Blackness, right? Michelle Obama is actually assimilated into a white dominant culture. What these women do is they usually fashion themselves after the Black woman who is easily recognizable but is not socially accepted. The ghetto Black woman.

[00:39:08] ALYSSA: That’s Rachel Dolezal [crosstalk] like, type one, right there.

[00:39:15] BRENDANE: Right. You all might know the great theorist and songstress K Michelle—who apparently, I learned the other day, is old school R&B these days, so I’m really feeling every year of my twenty-eight right now. She has a short song that talks about cultural appropriation and racialized dynamics of desire in a very real way. It’s called Kim K. And I’m not gonna sing here but she begins the song with “Look/Why when I do this shit they mad?/When they do this shit they glad” and the chorus starts “Wish I could be a Kardashian so I could be Black/Put my face over Pac, wear my braids to the back/Throw a filter on that, ’cause ain’t shit real/And ain’t shit’s funny, so fuck how you feel.”

[00:40:04] ALYSSA: Whew, are Black women not theorists?

[00:40:06] BRENDANE: I mean.

[00:40:07] ALYSSA: Are we not theorists? [Laughter]

[00:40:09] BRENDANE: And, like y’all—K Michelle, y’all might come for her but she be speaking the truth sometimes. And it’s like, what aspects of Black femme culture and even of Black “ghetto-ness” do we see become accepted through white women’s appropriation? The thing only becomes—once the white women appropriate it, right—then it transforms into a thing that only becomes “acceptable” and recognizable when it’s done by them. hooks talks about this in another way, she says, “The commodification of difference promotes paradigms of consumption wherein whatever difference the Other inhabits is eradicated, via exchange, by a consumer cannibalism that not only displaces the Other but denies the significance of that Other’s history through a process of decontextualization.”

Alright, so in this sense, we think about Kim Kardashian, right—her body no longer, it no longer becomes a Black woman’s body, it then becomes a Kardashian body. So then Black women who get surgery simulate a Kardashian body and not necessarily the body that their ancestors had when they came her, right. Women are no longer emulating Black women’s bodies when they get those surgeries, their emulating the Kardashians and it erases all the cultural histories around that. And it’s no longer also a body that people treat as exotic and should be put in museums, you know, like the history shows when you think of Black women’s’ bodies. And so, through cultural appropriation, the Other becomes erased and replaced, which, if I haven’t said this enough, is another way racialized power dynamics show up. Cause even if I were to cannibalize whiteness, if I were to say, okay, I’m gonna make myself into a white woman—oh my god, I can’t even say that with a straight face [laughter]. Even if I were to say that that doesn’t mean that whiteness loses its dominance or disappears, right, it actually magnifies itself.

[00:42:16] ALYSSA: I think that really points nicely to that question that Lauren Michelle Jackson’s supervisor asked, and we were gonna talk about it toward the end of the episode. But that question was, “are these people really performing Blackness?” And that was what her, I believe it was her mentor or supervisor said, you really need to sit with this before you write your book or write your dissertation, White Negroes. And if all of these white women are getting lip filler and getting but implants, are they really on a one-to-one basis taking Black attributes and putting it onto their bodies? Or are they taking this like performance of a performance of a performance and putting that onto their bodies and if so, is that really Blackness. Something for y’all to sit with.

[00:43:13] BRENDANE: We gonna leave y’all with a lot of questions this episode.

[00:43:15] ALYSSA: [Laughter] Yes, and you’ll have a whole summer to reflect on them, so that’s great. Um, and I think that, you know, that’s what bell hooks is then getting at, right? She’s saying that “by eating the Other…that one asserts power and privilege.” And so, Blackness is something that is desired because it disrupts the status quo but at the same time reasserts dominance over Blackness. This essay really speaks to the whole blackfishing thing on the part of white women, you know. Like what better way to escape the banality of whiteness than to inhabit the Other? And that’s something that I’m kind of pulling out of hooks’ work because one of the things that we were talking about before we started recording was just the focus on masculinity and men, right. It’s like it’s about white men’s desire then she takes it to Black men. And so, I was really thinking, okay, white men, you know, they wanna seduce and become the Other—or be transformed through the Other, I should say—women actually want to inhabit it. So, that’s odd and I would, you know, maybe there’s some work out there that we can get at but I think this is probably because patriarchy dictates that womanhood creates women as vessels to be consumed while men are the primary consumers. So, speaking of consumption—

[00:44:42] BRENDANE: You know, consumption. Whew, let’s get into it.

[00:44:45] ALYSSA: Alright! Final segment of our final episode.

[00:44:48] BRENDANE: Final episode, I had to pull my stool up for this one.

[00:44:51] ALYSSA: Oh, this is going to be a good one because it’s just like what?

[00:44:55] BRENDANE: What?

[00:44:56] ALYSSA: What?

[00:44:57] BRENDANE: What in the world—

[00:44:57] ALYSSA: What In the World?!

[0044:58] BRENDANE: —Is going on?

[00:45:00] ALYSSA: Like this week’s obligatory where do we start? It was definitely saved for this segment [laughter]. Like there’s so much to say, so many wonderfully terrifying examples. Do we start with the Carrie necklace from Sex in the City, or do we start with boxer braids? Do we start with twerking or Tik Tok?! I don’t know. All I have for it is a deep, negro spiritual sigh.

[00:45:28] BRENDANE: Deep, negro spiritual sigh. You know, I’mma sigh with you because, girl, what the hell is going on? [Laughter]

[00:45:40] ALYSSA: And let’s also say this has been going on for a long, long, long time.

[00:45:44] BRENDANE: Long, long time.

[00:45:46] ALYSSA: But I think let’s start with Kahlil Greene. Kahlil Greene is an undergraduate at Yale. You all may have heard of him because he became Yale’s first Black student body president in 2020—yes, 2020, that country’s big age, as we say. He also has a Tik Tok series called “How everything Gen Z does originated with Black people” where he explains how Gen Z culture is just whitewashed Black culture. He talks about the phrase No Cap, sheeesh, the lip-bite challenge—that one, y’all should be embarrassed about that. And if you don’t know [laughter], if you don’t know what the lip-bite challenge is, it’s basically where people bite their lip and squint their eyes and it’s actually just like a white-washed light skin face, that we’ve been doing for years.

[00:46:39] BRENDANE: Right, or they bite where their lips should be.

[00:46:40] ALYSSA: They be biting their chins [laughter]. So, I listen to this podcast—it’s two white women who date and they talk about dating and relationships, and they live in New York City. And so, for that reason I like listening to it, hear what’s going on. I call it the “white girl podcast,” so whenever bae is like, “Oh, which podcast are you listening to?” I’m like, “the white girl podcast” [laughter]. So, you know, overall, I like the content, but sometimes they’ll say things like “go off sis,” or “go off queen” and I’m like oh my god. I’m like please stop, you don’t need to do this. And so, on that note, someone on Twitter—and I just wish that I had their profile—they said that they don’t know what white women mean when they say, “gang gang!”

[00:47:37] BRENDANE: Gang, gang!

[00:47:38] ALYSSA: Like what gang, Susan? The KKK?! [Laughter] Like, there’s no gang, gang, please stop. [Laughter] And the thing is the women on this podcast, they’re not even Gen Z, they’re older millennials so that really, really feels like when your teacher would try to use slang in class to seem relatable. It really comes off that way.

[00:48:02] BRENDANE: [Sigh] And, in speaking of the gang, gang thing—for me, it’s like which Grand Wizard are you trying to salute here? Like, which one. I always cringe when I hear non-black women say things, that I know they took from drag culture or Black queer and trans spaces. It’s even worse though—not only when y’all take them but y’all literally misuse these terms. But I’m in this place in my life right, where I refuse to correct them because y’all don’t need unfettered access to our interior spaces anymore. So please keep on with your “throwing shade on XYZ.”

[00:48:47] ALYSSA: You don’t throw shade “on”

[00:48:49] BRENDANE: Now, we not gonna tell you how to say it but you don’t throw shade “on” anything. And “whew Chili,” sweetie? [Laughter] Keep on, please, keep on. And I want to say this to my Black folx—and we gonna come back to this, right—especially my young people, all the tiktokers out here—I’ve aged out y’all. But our ancestors had a language and dialect and distinct culture for a reason. Even when they were under the direct threat of death, they at least kept some shit to themselves. We do not have to culturally translate for nobody. We don’t have to give them access to us. We are sacred. Some shit can actually just be ours.

[00:49:36] ALYSSA: Yes, like twerking, that is one of the things that I really wanted to talk about. Cause this actually came up in the twerk community recently. I wish that I could attribute this, but it was a couple weeks ago, and I didn’t know that we were going to do this episode. There’s a Black woman, she shares twerk videos and offers classes, and she was calling out white women who twerk and was saying that it’s appropriative! It’s not appreciation because one, they don’t support Black women who twerk and/or are strippers; and two, they get praised for doing things that when done by Black women is considered obscene or they get their accounts deleted and then they lose all of their followers, all of their ability to make an income. Meanwhile, you have Nastya Nass, who is a white woman who twerks, and, on her profile, she calls herself a “Twerk icon.” Like, why!? And, of course, she was brought to my attention by The Shade Room, which is like the ultimate Black popular culture co-sign. Like if you’re a white person on The Shade Room, you’re basically fine, you’re cool. That’s what it says, which is a problem.

And so, all of this really reminded me of this video of—we’re going to do a 90 Day Fiancé reference—but Kalani and Kolini. So, they’re two Samoan American women on 90 Day Fiancé and they do this Tik Tok to the song Bundles by Kayla Nicole Jones. And, if you’re like, who is that? She is actually the face of that meme of looking down at a phone and then looking up into the camera—looking all, oh shit, I don’t know how that happened [laughter], wearing the wig cap. And so, she does music as well. Part of the lyrics are “Bad bitch, ass fat / 40-inch hair, yours came in a pack” and of course Kolini and Kalani they have long, thick hair and, you know, which they were sure to hold up to the camera to prove to us that their hair did not come in a pack and is forty inches. And my friend was like, “I’m so tired of non-Black women of color positioning themselves as ‘better’ Black women.” It just reminded me of the poem by Crystal Valentine and Aaliyah Jihad. It’s called “Hide your Shea Butter” and they were like, “It’s not that we don’t trust white people. It’s that y’all really think my black looks better on you.”

[00:52:21] BRENDANE: Whew. Yo, you got some profound friends.

[00:52:27] ALYSSA: [Laughter] I try.

[00:52:21] BRENDANE: Yeah, I would say. We even had that experience earlier this year, right, when a non-black woman used AAVE and her desirability to “call us out.” She was flipping her hair; she had that Instagram chain filter on. And her reason that she used when previously questioned about that before, right, for talking the way she does is that she grew up around Black people. We hear that often especially when non-Black people are using AAVE, right. It’s I grew up around Black people so that’s how I learned how to talk. Awkwafina is another example, but now that she’s made it the Blaccent and the affect is gone.

But I think this brings us nicely to a question someone asked us on Instagram, which is whether and how gatekeeping fits in and if so, how? In the poem they also say “No more giving away our secrets. When you invite your white friends over, hide your shea butter. Hide your coconut oil. Hide your loc gel. Let those white dreads unravel.” I think gatekeeping is necessary. And so, I’m going to be problematic here. I know Blackness, especially Black Americanness, is a currency that flows around the world, so people feel entitled to have it, but y’all we really don’t have to give it away. One of the ways that we’ve internalized racism is that we feel the need to protect our oppressors y’all and we don’t gotta do it no more. Most of us are no longer in a place where it’s a life-or-death situation if we cannot be perceived.

We think being fully transparent, or being represented, or being “understood”—cause the question underneath that is can they really understand us, can they really see us, whatever—will save us. We think all of that will save us, but the gag is that us having to do that work of explaining ourselves is white supremacist power at work. We internalize it by objectifying ourselves. We are entitled to an interiority. Whether that’s in and of your own physical body or between a community, we are entitled to an interiority. Like I said, we are sacred. We work magic with language, power, hair, etcetera. Think about it, we take boring ass words like “honey” and depending on when, where, or how you say it, it means something completely different!

[00:55:05] ALYSSA: Mhm, those are facts! We’re not the spice, we’re the main dish!

[00:55:10] BRENDANE: Purr, purr, purr, purr, purr [laughter].

[00:55:14] ALYSSA: As one might say in Jamaica, you are oxtail don’t let them treat you like chicken foot!

[00:55:19] BRENDANE: Mhm [laughter] wow.

[00:55:22] ALYSSA: Yeah, I think if you wanna read more about the impossibility of privacy just as an intro, Kristin Smith has an article called Impossible of Privacy: Black Women and Police Terror but there are other people who have definitely talked about Black interiority. That exactly, that phrase exactly.

[00:55:43] BRENDANE: Right. Elizabeth Alexander, the poet. I mean even our namesake, Zora Neale Hurston, does a little bit of Black interiority work when people used to say that she was tap dancing for white people and she was like, well Black people only tell you what they want you to know, anyway, so how do you know that I’m also not doing the same thing? So, we over here, believe in keeping some thangs private, reclaiming privacy, even if privacy is an impossibility, right, reclaiming that, reclaiming an interiority. And we just want to encourage you all to do the same.

[00:56:19] ALYSSA: Edouard Glissant would call it opacity. That’s another one that you can think about, think through. We don’t have to share everything with everybody.

[00:56:29] BRENDANE: And it’s not being mean, but you know. Anyway, let me get off my little thing.

[00:56:35] ALYSSA: You wanna, alright, you wanted—I mean people wanted us to talk about In the Heights.

[00:56:39] BRENDANE: Yeah, and I’mma tell y’all a caveat to everything that I say. I did not watch that movie, okay.

[00:56:46] ALYSSA: Neither have I [laughter].

[00:56:47] BRENDANE: We have not watched it, and here’s why. Toni Morrison told us about that man. But y’all—and I’mma say y’all, cause I also did not watch Hamilton—y’all was up there acting Hamilton, singing along. [Laughter] Toni Morrison already told you what was up.

[00:57:02] ALYSSA: She hated Hamilton so much that she funded a play to tear it apart [laughter].

[00:57:08] BRENDANE: She said he is not to be trusted and here we are, years later, people.

[00:57:12] ALYSSA: Is that not iconic? Like that is iconic [laughter].

[00:57:15] BRENDANE: The icon. The Aquarius icon, Toni Morrison. In the Heights. Someone wrote in to us on Instagram to ask us to talk about how appropriation and colorism intersect, as well as our thoughts on appropriation by lighter skinned/more privileged people within the same race. I think this can best be answered by thinking about how the Other that is incorporated must be easily recognizable. So, I’m gonna take that turn of phrase, gonna make that phrase do multiple forms of work for us. We know that darker skinned, poor, Black people are easily recognizable when we think about racialized stereotypes, right? But the more palatable Black people to incorporate are those that may appear to be closer to a white ideal.

So, we think about in the context of In the Heights, we saw a near complete erasure of Black Latinx people while their histories and cultures were appropriated in the film. The dancing, the music. There was even a moment in the film—the clip that I saw y’all because I didn’t watch it—where the light skinned actors were talking about their ancestors on the transatlantic slave trade. And it’s like, yes. Perhaps you had some ancestors—whose presence some of y’all be continually denying—who endured that violence, but you do not face the direct violence of being visibly Black. You actually benefit from not being visibly Black. So, I think when people talk about lighter skin people appropriating the struggles—cause see I don’t think there’s a such thing as a darker skinned culture perse. There’s a set of experiences that are particular to darker skinned people, but I don’t know if I would label that as a culture.

[00:59:15] ALYSSA: And that’s a response to someone who did ask a question related to that.

[00:59:18] BRENDANE: Mhm, so I think that actually is—the frustration is that lighter skinned people are appropriating the experiences, saying that they experience the same kind of violence, which in and of itself is violent to say. Because what it does is actually erase the experiences of darker skinned people. While white supremacy and anti-Blackness harms all of us, right, it cannot be contested that darker skinned people experience it in the worst ways. So, when lighter skinned people position themselves as the most harmed or the most affected, their palatability actually makes way for the struggles of darker skinned people to be erased. Because then white people are like well, “we can solve your needs.” And it’s like but maybe this darker skinned woman doesn’t need what you need, maybe she’s not looking to be accepted in this space in a certain way. Maybe she needs a different type of help but meeting your needs because of your palatability and your recognizability erases hers.

[01:00:24] ALYSSA: [Sigh] Yes. Yes. I just feel like, it’s not even necessarily that they might be positioning themselves as the most harmed or the most affected but it’s like you’re equating your experiences or your kind of aligning your experiences with those of people who actually have completely different experiences. Which then shows that you don’t actually understand those experiences. You’re not thinking about those whatsoever. [Sigh] So, I also haven’t watched the movie. I watched some interviews and things like that. And one thing that the cast and the producers, you know, they kept saying, they were like the casting was colorblind. I don’t think they used that exact term, you know, but that was what they implied. They were like, we just picked the best person for the role. One woman even said, you know, “When we did the casting, we were like,’Oh we’re actually a lot like the characters that were written,’ so it wasn’t really about skin complexion or skin color, it was just about choosing the best person for the role.” And I’m like okay, you’re not Shonda Rhimes! Like you weren’t doing color blind casting, alright. The reason that the “best person” or the best people for the roles turned out to all be light skinned and white was because the role was written to be light skinned and white even if it wasn’t explicitly stated!

[01:01:56] BRENDANE: I mean the math is mathing. The social studies are socially studying, okay. It’s one plus one in this situation is equaling up to two. Um, and while we’re thinking about this light skinned white Latinx identity, I saw this TikTok where the OP—I know that’s what the kids be calling them on Twitter, I don’t really know what that means—

[01:02:24] ALYSSA: Original poster.

[01:02:24] BRENDANE: Ohhh. [Laughter] Okay, the original poster, right, who is a nonblack Latina, she says “We can’t wear braids or sing certain songs? Ok, no problem at all, but don’t let me catch y’all singing or dancing reggaeton, salsa, etcetera, speaking our language, or eating our food ever again.” And I just wanna say honey, lemme pull up to the mic and let’s have a conversation. Um, reggaeton, salsa, merengue, etcetera came into existence after the Spanish came in contact with the Africans. Those dances came into existence because of slavery. So, what? Reggaeton has literally got reggae in the name. And also, since we’re here, what exactly is your language? Spanish? Because honey lemme tell you, Black people also speak Spanish. But saying a racial slur—and we all know what that racial slur is, that everybody keeps fighting to say—is not the same as dancing reggaeton. But these false equivalencies, like these erasures and decontextualizations, is actually borne of power dynamics is wild! Cause I’m like how does this even make sense to type. You got on your good internet, on your good data [laughter] on Cricket—I’mma be you know [laughter]—your Cricket data’s hotspot to say this?

[01:04:14] ALYSSA: Not Cricket.

[01:04:14] BRENDANE: I’m being real shady, I don’t know this person. But that’s wild. But this brings me back to my main question, and this is one that I’m gonna coming back to, and this is also—you know, you can call me problematic or whatever you wanna call me, right—it’s like what is the use of Latinidad and this identity if it’s not to be anti-Black because this is anti-Black. Because there is no way that you could characterize this idea as anything but anti-Black

[01:04:49] ALYSSA: Whelp. Well, this reminds me of a tweet that went around and this woman who wrote this tweet, she got roasted. She deleted the tweet, so I don’t have it in its entirety, but she wrote something along the lines of “for all the folks who have publicly said that they won’t support In the Heights because there are no Afro Latinos in lead roles, did you have that same energy for Black films with no Afro Latinos in the lead roles. Black Panther, for example.” [Laughter] People roasted her for this. They were like, “You can’t even get your history right, it’s supposed to be a country that didn’t experience colonization so there wouldn’t be Afro Latinos in Wakanda.” It’s not a—no. It doesn’t work. It was just like [sigh].

[01:05:56] BRENDANE: But no, cause that’s not even right because Lupita Nyong’o—

[01:06:02] ALYSSA: Is Kenyan Mexican.

[01:06:05] BRENDANE: So, I’m sorry, come again?

[01:06:07] ALYSSA: Lupita Nyong’o is—

[01:06:09] BRENDANE: Is Afro Latino, right? So no, you were upset about the lack of presence of light skin people with curly hair.

[01:06:19] ALYSSA: Bloop.

[01:06:19] BRENDANE: That’s what that was. You couldn’t even get it right about the Afro Latino stuff. Honey. [Laughter] There—yo, the backlash lashes back. You couldn’t even get that part right

[01:06:36] ALYSSA: Um, yeah, so that was—if y’all wanna look that up the tweets are hilarious. [Laughter] So on that note, I think we’re just going to leave you to check out our episode Not My Latinidad for more on that one! It features the wonderful Daisy Guzman and she really schools us on all of these things. And as a final note, I think if you’re like, “Ah, not about to read bell hooks,” then definitely check out the book White Negroes by Lauren Michele Jackson. We actually started reading it for this episode, but it wasn’t quite what we needed to do for this podcast episode. And so, she talks about the music and entertainment industry, which someone asked us about on Instagram. She talks about memes, she talks about TV chefs, you know, she gets into politics and all of these different aspects. And so, I just wanted to reiterate that question that her mentor asked her, which I think is really generative one for y’all to think about. And the question was are these people really performing blackness? Is Miley Cyrus really twerking, for example? Perhaps it is a desire to twerk, a want for twerking, but is what she’s doing the same gesture as a Black woman twerking?

[01:08:01] BRENDANE: I mean I would say no cause that shit don’t even look the same even though she might be popping her back in the same way. So, barely. Barely. [Laughter]

[01:08:18] ALYSSA: But those are some questions to leave y’all to meditate on for the summer. We have, we are coming to a close.


[01:08:30] BRENDANE: Oh man, that was that. You have completed your first year! Clap, clap, snap, snap, tap, tap, pop, pop. Thank you for all of your support again. We will be back in the fall with our sophomore season of Zora’s Daughters.

[01:08:46] ALYSSA: Thank you all for listening! This episode was produced by yours truly, your girl, Alyssa James and the lovely Brendane Tynes. Our intern is Menkhu-ta Whaley and music is by Segnon Tiewul. The podcast is distributed in partnership with the American Anthropological Association. This season of the podcast is generously funded by the Racial Justice Mini-Grant Program at Columbia University, which is funded through a partnership with the Office of University Life, the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement and the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life. Further funding has been provided by grants from the Office for Academic Diversity and Inclusion, the Arts & Science Graduate Council, and donations from folx just like you! Who we love and who love us.

[01:09:36] BRENDANE: Yes. Thank you all for your support! We would love to hear what you have to say about this episode, so be sure to follow us on Instagram at zorasdaughters and on Twitter at Zoras_Daughters. 

[01:09:50] ALYSSA: Alright y’all, it’s the summertime, get outside, enjoy yourselves and be kind to yourselves. Bye!


[01:10:04] [Clapping] [Crosstalk] [Cheering and singing] [Laughter]


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