If you’re white, and aware of your privilege and ignorance of POC cultures, and wanna do something about it, that’s awesome. Do that. Do the hell out of that. There is a lot of inequality and lack of understanding causing real injustice, and it is our responsibility as decent humans to make choices that are mindful of the rest of the world.
But don’t let tumblr’s wackadoodle cultural generalizations fuck you up. Tumblr is not the authority on Social Justice.
Tumblr says, “Black people own Hiphop so white people shouldn’t touch it, because that would be cultural appropriation,” while simultaneously shouting, “You don’t like hiphop because you are an ignorant white person stuck in your white bubble. You should try to understand it. Ask POCs about how their culture sees it. Educate yourself.”
Cuz when you ask POCs about it in the real world, they will be insulted that you assumed they (as individuals) culturally understood hiphop. They will be insulted at the idea that hip-hop is only for Black people. They will be be insulted that you assumed that they would think hip-hop could not be enjoyed or performed by white people.
I asked a Black coworker if she knew what a lyric in a hiphop song meant, and admitted shamefully that as a white girl in my white bubble, I did not know and wanted to expand my understanding. She gaped at me and asked me if I thought hiphop belonged only to Black people, or if I thought that all Black people liked it. She neither liked it nor knew much about it. I sputtered and said that I’d been reading a lot about cultural appropriation and white ignorance, and that since hiphop is considered closely culturally tied to Black culture it seemed good to ask her, and that I was a very stereotypical white person with little knowledge of it. That I asked out of wanting to be more sensitive. She told me to be careful how I ask things because it came off as me thinking of her as some avatar for BLACK PEOPLE rather than as an individual.
She also thought my question meant that I thought she would agree in the idea that white people couldn’t touch hip-hop. I put myself in a tumblr box, and I put her in a tumblr box, and I made it seem like I thought she wanted us in those boxes. She hated those boxes. She thought people should be free to enjoy whatever they want, uncategorized.
So I fucked up.
I just accidentally insulted a real person because I was trying to fit in the contradictory white guilt box Tumblr made for me, and was putting her in a black spokesperson box. I feel awful about it, because I should always value understanding somebody as an individual over worrying what Tumblr will think about me. I’m sorry, and I don’t feel like that appology is enough.
People are people, and don’t let a couple of very loud, hypersensitive vigilantes categorize the world into contradiction boxes.
Social justice is important. We need it. Let’s not warp it into something that causes individuals to be generalized or categorized. Social Justice will lose momentum if it becomes associated with that crap. It is because social justice is important that we need to be careful not to let it get warped.
We should therefore never assume anything about any individual, no matter what the loudest tumblrites say.