The MP3 Version:
Cultural Appropriation in the Age of K-Pop
Some commentary on this whole thing and why these conversations are necessary:
The way Blackness is portrayed & performed across kpop is impossible to miss unless you work at being ignorant. Appropriation of Blackness – hair, slang, aesthetic, etc – is infused into the past what… 30 yrs of kpop?
I made a point of making “Cultural Appropriation” one of the main article segments in this series as I was planning it because I got sick and tired of seeing how kpop fandom at large refused to learn and listen – especially to Black fans – about why cultural appropriation hurts.
“But as Americans who shape American pop culture, African Americans’ power is incomparably greater than any non-Americans’, including Koreans’.”
A thing that came up across the research for this segment in TK Park’s quote in the above tweet and several Korean & Korean Americans scholars, performers, and fans is I’ve come across involves them assigning tons of privilege to African Americans because of their US citizenship.
Like TK Park and a ridiculously wide amount of people – especially in conversations about cultural appropriation and Korean pop/hip hop – genuinely seem to think that being Black in the US negates the fact that we live in an antiblack world where we’re oppressed endlessly.
And it’s not just our US citizenship or residency that gives us this privilege, it’s quite often hypervisibility and the desire that OTHER PEOPLE (in this context/conversation, Korean people) have to jack our style, mimic us, and form wildly incorrect opinions about us.
Hypervisibility isn’t a privilege.
It often leads to further dehumanization because we’re supposedly seen and if we’re everywhere, we clearly don’t deserve to be treated as humans and can’t possibly be related to the fact that we’re still oppressed.
Koreans in/out of the US wanting desperately to be Black or to put on/perform Blackness and CHOOSING to adopt (poorly done btw) AAVE is not a sign of Black USian privilege.
BET/Black rappers in record books/a single MCU movie about Black people?
All ALSO NOT Black US privilege
Diaspora wars are annoying enough when launched between Black people from different places –
I sure as shit refuse to entertain diaspora wars/oppression olympics shit from non-Black folks mad that their own/idols’ hood phases aren’t well received by Black people.
The quote from TK Park is one of many moments across his essay that inspired a) mine and b) pterodactyl screeching from me at the worst possible moments because he refuses to acknowledge antiblackness at work in his POV, in Korea, in his communities, IN THESE CONVERSATIONS
He also refuses to understand that uh… Black people being seen as the top of the heap in rap or as the site for some serious coolness or getting to bein Black Panther –
Doesn’t stop us from being oppressed and gives us no significant power to effect change here or abroad. Like the existence of rap as a musical category and Black people excelling at it or the sleek visuals of Wakanda in Black Panther… don’t stop Black people from being dehumanized and literally being rendered powerless by the entire world??
What nonsense is that??