"I do this for my culture, to let them know/ What a n--- look like when a n---in a roaster"
Yesterday was tough. It was one of those days where after working 10 hours, stopping to have a drink with two of my best New York friends, and heading home, I just wanted to come home, shower, do one last electronic check, and go to sleep listening to the smooth sounds of one of my R&B laced playlists. The House finally approved legislation to replace the Affordable Health Care Act. If you have insurance through your employer, you may think that the American Health Care Act does not affect you (the fact that the acronyms are the same and affordable was replaced with American is its own brand of sickening) but it does. If passed by the Senate, the definition of what can be considered a pre-exisiting condition (therefore denying coverage or leaving you with ridiculously high premiums) has expanded to include items that feel like a direct attack on the very people the bill is named to protect. Mental health, life threatening diseases and reproductive issues-are all being challenged as ailments that you could possibly be left to deal with alone if the bill is passed through the Senate. I saw rape and domestic violence on the list yesterday and lost my shit. I rarely say the word shit, let alone lose it, but I was livid. I felt like who I was as a woman, who we are all as women and the people who love them, were under attack. That it was being said, hey, if you complain or report these issues, these violent, intrusive, attacks on your body and your health, you, woman, will not be covered. 70% of domestic violence cases go unreported according to a 2015 statistic. Rape has similarly alarming numbers. Imagine the number jumping once it is known that if you have ever been the victim of someone else's hate and insecurities, you have to pay again, but this time out of pocket for medical care.
So there I was after a drink and a half and a very impassioned conversation with a kind, understanding, and woke Lyft driver who was also exhausted with living in the reality and duality of being an American, cuing up the R&B and doing one last check of email, social media, and texts when I saw this (not the exact tweet but the screenshot is what I saw):
I'm going to be honest. Before this, I had little very knowledge of who she was or what she did. I remember first seeing people pass around her sex tape and talking about the discordance of her moans on twitter, which I thought was evil and an invasion of privacy. Not too long ago I saw someone tweet a screenshot of her auctioning off 15 minutes of social branding or something of the like with her for some astronomical price in which she responded it was for charity, which I read in Tara's 'it's for the kids' voice, chuckled and kept moving. Basically, I thought she was a twitter honey capitalizing on the moment and living her best life not bothering anyone, and when it comes to women and coins I say caching sis and mind my business. I didn't follow her, so I was unfamiliar with the range of her antics but last night, after the house came for my health care and Miley Cyrus in all of her using, culture misappropriating glory came for my hip hop, I was ready. I went from being lusty to the hypnotizing back and forth cadence between 6LACK and Jhene' Aiko to flipping
the bird and the playlist to Jay -Z.
"Show them how to move in a room full of vultures/Industry is shady, it needs to be taken over"
Yes Julz thought that tweet was cute. She didn't bother to edit out the n word. She calmly sent out that tweet to her supportive timeline and thought it would get some lols. Look! She even placed an emoji behind it to soften the blow just in case someone took offense. NBD guys. She asked permission right? It was a joke. It's just a crop top.
DAFUQ. What is wrong with ya'll. Us. Her. DaEntireFuq. Me with my brown skin and curly hair and full lips won't say the word. I personally wouldn't wear the shirt, though I would get a chuckle out of seeing some cute brown queen wear one this summer and give her a knowing look and possible high five. But this woman got on the world wide web and posted the shirt and asked if she could wear it. Nah. You can't. You can't wear the shirt if you cant wear the hurt. I don't care how many rappers you know, how many music festivals you've attended, how many black friends you have or how many black men you dated, if your ancestors weren't stolen from Africa, placed on a ship, survived disease only to be split from their families, beaten, raped, robbed of their language, their religions, their respect, their divinity, and their culture for hundreds of years while being shipped between the Americas and Caribbean you cannot use the word. If your ancestors weren't treated like animals even after being legally recognized as humans after hundreds of years of building cities, businesses, and other people's children for free, you cannot use the word. If you couldn't wear the word when it was accompanied with the lash of a whip or the loop of a noose you can't wear it in 2017 when there is an 'A' on the end. No it's not a double standard, it's respect for the culture you claim to love when cashing a check or listening to a song, or looking for branding opportunities. And if you (universal you, not just to Julz) really loved the culture so much, I wouldn't have to explain that to you.
"Label owners hate me, I'm raising the status quo up"
Stop using our culture to save you, propel you, pay you, and not give back by way of knowledge and understanding. I get it. A people who rise from the ashes of a destroyed legacy, learn to master a language they were never taught to speak or read for hundreds of years, made meals out of the scraps they were thrown, and found joy in the religion that was supposed to be used to oppress them can obviously make a good time out of anything. And we do. We make a joke out of a yahoo typo probably saving some poor recent college grad's job, we turn our hurt into music that welcomes anyone with a story to tell regardless of race, creed, or religion, and we forgive and love those who commit grievances better than we forgive and love ourselves sometimes. But when you take all that love, generosity, and opportunity and forget the pain from which it stems or help to push it forward in a deserving way outside of personal gain, you become a scavenging predator. That is the true meaning of culture vulture.
The very whitewashed and inaccurate definition of culture vulture as provided by google
Stop trying to mask appropriation with appreciation. There is a difference, and the line between the two is not as fine as people like to make it seem. It's possible that Yes Julz did not "know" that outside of her bubble, her relationship with that word was problematic. Her own friend gave her a "pass" to use the word. Again, DaFuq? The logic behind there being a pass to allow use of a word you feel you would not normally be able to say is steeped in so much fallacy and ignorance that the fact that this is a conversation being had outside of four very small, secretive, and hidden walls is baffling. In asking for a pass or being granted a pass, isn't the underlying belief that you have no right to use the word under normal instances? Why is the n-word one of the few words people outside of the affected group are fighting to be allowed to say? And why do people feel the need to grant their non-black friends permission to use it?
The problem is that she didn't own up to what she did. An "if" in an apology is always insulting. It implies that the offense is hypothetical. It's not. It's real. She didn't recognize that this was not funny, that she completely missed the mark, and that the culture that she "loved" felt under attack and used. There are plenty of people who love the culture who don't appropriate it- Peter Rosenberg, Eddie Huang, immediately come to mind. I doubt they are walking around begging for passes to use the n-word and publicly sharing instances where they can use said passes. They also have their own cultures that they embrace and share and appreciate in addition to the culture of others. To the friend of hers that tweeted why are we always being so sensitive, we do a disservice to our friends and associates when we allow their ignorance to go uncorrected, laud it or even assimilate into it. We use our voices because we can, because we should, because there was a time when non-blacks used the n word and us speaking up to correct them resulted in death. You may not get it, but big brands do. Since then Yes Julz has been dropped from two events in Toronto so if love for the culture doesn't prompt change, maybe love for the dollar will.
"We can talk, but money talks, so talk mo' bucks"