Tag Archives: cultural appropriation

azns in hip-hop [1]

posted by djtrishna

In the land of hip hop, female MCs are a rare breed. At least that’s what the mainstream would have us believe.

Right now there are countless female artists fighting intense discrimination in the industry while producing some of the best hip hop out there. Many of whom are reppin it for us Azns.

Case in point? Shadia Mansour.

If you’ve never heard of this extremely talented artist before, you are in for a treat. I would describe her as the more intelligent, politically conscious, Palestinian female version of Drake. Just kidding, that would be a complete diss to Shadia because she could totally tear Drake apart in a throw down, just sayin.

Why should we be paying attention to her? Shadia’s flow is intuitive, expertly dropped over well produced beats and vocals that could carry her career on their own. Her lyrics resist the current trend of mainstream hip hop to produce formulaic lines that ignore social and political realities, which she does without getting cheesy. And the first single “El Kofeyye 3arabeyye”, off of her new album features M1 of Dead Prez.

Yes, as in Dead Prez, Dead Prez. If you don’t think this is a testament to her skills and potential as an MC, perhaps you should examine what you think you know about hip hop.

El Kofeyye 3arabeyye is a brilliant track that explores the cultural roots of the Kofeyye and challenges its appropriation.

Her depth and dynamism as an artist can be seen in this track but also through her collaborations and performances with other Arab artists such as Canada’s own The Narcicyst and the UK’s Lowkey in which she holds her own amongst the presence of such strong men.

Shadia is also uncompromising her in image as a Palestinian female performer. She rocks keffiyehs and traditional Palestinian dress onstage, constantly reminding us of her identity. Shadia has been nicknamed the First Lady of Arab Hip-Hop. To me, this is particularly important in an era of hip hop in which artists would rather wear Louis Vutton in an effort to assimilate to whiteness than have their audiences deal with their racial other-ness.

Her album is set to drop sometime before year’s end. You can be sure to expect big things out of Shadia in her reclamation of hip hop.

Check out her myspace here.

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the politics of fashion

posted by jroselkim

Thanks to my barely employed/”working from home” days, I have fostered a new internet hobby: reading fashion blogs. I know, I know. Can’t I read about more important things, or do something more productive with my time? I often wonder about the same thing.

But on one of my morning browsing photos of high-waisted skirts and vintage dresses, one thing caught my eye – a video tutorial on “How to Wear a Headscarf, Turban Style.” Yes, you guessed it; the use of a religious garb as a fashion statement (by a white woman, nonetheless) made me feel rather…uncomfortable. But I watched it, and to be fair, this isn’t tying a “complete” turban, and I could even argue that this style itself doesn’t appear very problematic (as the style itself does not resemble a full turban), save for its name.

However, as I dug around to see the posts where the blogger actually experiments with this style, I was met with this phrase: “Just yesterday my friend and I were saying how we couldn’t rock turbans.”

Now, this is where I have more of a problem. To say that one can’t “rock” a turban without even slightly thinking about how people in other cultures/religions wear them seems like the fashion world has stripped this religious garment of all its significance, only to reappropriate it as it sees fit. Then again, my quick Wikipedia search of “turbans” also reveals that women in the Western world also wore a modified version of “turbans” at the turn of the 20th century as a way of keeping hair out of their faces. I also admit that I do not have an extensive knowledge of turbans myself, so perhaps I shouldn’t be speaking too much on this matter.

Reappropriation (and its problematic implications) is what I’ve been thinking about a lot these days, with hipsters wearing native headdresses and the popularity of keffiyeh as scarves. You might say, but wait! people in Asian countries and African countries wear western clothes all the time. But the difference there is that many of those countries’ citizens were also forced to wear Western-style clothing and banned from practicing/continuing their native cultures as a means of colonization. The effect of such practices is that while “Western” clothes are the most affordable and available clothes there, while traditional garments have become more of a luxury and special occasions items.

So where do you draw the line? How might you distinguish between paying homage or tribute to a culture (or making “XX-influenced” things without making it totally problematic) and disrespectfully ripping off a culture?


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the last airbender mindbender

posted by missmsian

Okay, I get that The Last Airbender movie is racist because it casts white actors to portray heroic Azn roles and actors of Azn descent to play villains. And the TV show, Avatar: The Last Airbender, was a million times better because it let little Johnny (Lee) and Sarah (Nguyen) have cartoon role models who looked like them.

But nobody’s bothered by the fact that the TV show was created by two white dudes?

Mike and Bryan (or maybe it's Bryan and Mike), white dudes and show creators

The show creators said they used Edwin Zane as a cultural consultant. Who the heck is Edwin Zane? Is he Azn? And, if so, when was he elected Ultimate Knower Of All Things Azn? ‘Cause I think I missed that vote …

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i’m not past it

posted by Celine

Don’t you get it? Race is the most important part of who I am. I am what I am because of my race — and my history and my culture and my two languages and my family and my interactions with the world as a racialized girl — just as a white person is what they are because of their race.

(Oh, by the way, white is a colour too. White too is a race.)

Race is the most important part of who I am because I wear a big star on my forehead. Hello stranger, did you know that I am an azn? Of course you did, my eyes are remarkably smaller than Heidi Klum’s and I look like Jackie Chan (IN RUSH HOUR WITH CHRIS TUCKER) and Ken Jeong (BEST KNOWN AS AN ACTOR IN THE NEW HIT TV SERIES COMMUNITY, DEVELOPED BY DAN HARMON, STARRING JOEL MCHALE AS AN INTELLIGENT AND ATTRACTIVE WHITE LAWYER COURTED BY THREE DIFFERENT WHITE WOMEN) and that girl Ross brought home from China and dated instead of Rachel.

If I was honest with myself, I sometimes wish I was indeed living in a “post-racial” princedom of unicorns, because truly, as we all know, that’d rid us of the awful weight of history — but too bad for us, it doesn’t exist and it may never will.

(By the way, oh, just so you know, you can’t force a “post-racial” princedom of unicorns to exist by making those brown women take off their head scarves.)

My race is not a phase. It is not an inconvenient and inconsequential and meaningless part of me which I must seek to rid of as soon as possible — or make explanations for on demand. I’m not past it.

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can’t be …

posted by missmsian


The only thing worse than Miley Cyrus’s culturally inappropriate performance of “Can’t Be Tamed” at last night’s MuchMusic Video Awards in Toronto was Justin Bieber’s wannabe-urban getup and gang sign fronting.

This is what happens when you give two white, suburban kids millions of screaming tweens and a recording contract.

Hmm … three, if you count Drizzy Fake.

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