Through The Grapevine

Written by on 13 March 2018

What would you do if your friend told you that your boyfriend is bisexual? This week’s Letter For The Culture was so important it had to be tackled in our kiki segment. Betsy Devos was more confused than a substitute in the wrong classroom during her “60 Minutes” interview with Lesley Stahl. Betsy struggles to answer basic questions in a scheduled interview.

‘The Grapevine” panel discussion that we were so fortunate to be a part of made Bruno Mars the #1 trending topic on Twitter pinning the questions is he a culture appropriator.  What do you think?


Reader's opinions
  1. Christina Taylor, M.A.   On   20 March 2018 at 12:55 am

    Love you two!
    I had to kindly remove myself from this conversation when it started trending. The necessary conversation on cultural appropriation and colorism was tainted from the beginning by rooting it on questioning whether Bruno is a cultural appropriator. Of course it would go left. We have to do better with these needed conversation and not sidetrack our own goals. How Bruno benefits from colorism is a good conversation. Overall cultural appropriation of rap and rnb music and upilfting unrecognized black artists is a great conversation. Can a man of color be guilty of cultural appropriation would have been more interesting. But starting a conversation of this importance on framing Bruno as if he is a white man and is a cultural appropriator sidelined the entire discussion.

  2. TheWarner   On   23 March 2018 at 4:52 am

    I don’t believe the Grapevine panel attacked Bruno Mars. I believe you all acknowledged that Mars is talented, but those who pointed out that he is engaging in cultural appropriation were just telling the truth.

    Despite Mars’ talent he has changed his musical style to an R&B-esque style, and as a result he is now heavily profiting from his cultural appropriation, both financially and in the form of white validation. We see Mars receiving possibly the most coveted of music awards (5 Grammys and 27 nominations since 2010), booking Super Bowl Halftime performances, and gracing the covers of magazines like Rolling Stone, Flaunt Magazine, Forbes, and WSJ. Magazine. Mars’ music is also in heavy rotation on radio stations that typically wouldn’t play R&B music or the music of black artists. Why is that? Probably because in addition to benefiting from cultural appropriation Mars is also benefiting from colorism (which is another conversation), and is seen as more “marketable”, especially globally. I think it was Seren who pointed out that he is brown, but not too brown, and has the style and sound of a Black artist…without being Black.

    Also pointed out during the Grapevine’s discussion, was that like Miley Cyrus, Iggy Azalea, and Justin Timberlake Mars can easily go back to performing his original style of music or any other genre and not be pigeonholed. Usher, Trey Songz, Jeremih, August Alsina, etc. can’t do that. When I look at the outfits Mars performs in it reminds of Madonna in her music video for her single, Music, in which she was wearing nameplates, gold chains, and chunky gold rings, but fashion critics referred to this type of jewelry on Madonna as “ghetto fabulous.” Mars’ appropriation also reminds me a little of Justin Timberlake’s, but not quite to his extent. It’s clear the music, movie, and fashion industries, as well as the media find Black sound and fashion more palatable when it comes from non-Black people. It’s high-fashion when Bo Derek, Kim Kardashian, and fashion models wear cornrows, but “ghetto” and “unkempt” but Black women and men do.

    As for Justin Timberlake, when he was running around with cornrows in his hair saying “Fo shizzel, my nizzel”, for whatever reason, people thought that was acceptable and no one ever called him on it. Because I saw Timberlake’s voyage into R&B for what it was, a money grab, I refused to purchase his music. Timberlake is also talented, but he too is guilty of culturally appropriating for dollars. Him FINALLY being called out and roasted for exposing Janet Jackson’s breast and then throwing her under the bus pleased me immensely.

    I was happy to see the Grapevine touch on cultural appropriation in the music industry. It was disappointing that those defending Mars all over Twitter were so enraged because they felt Mars was being “hated on for no reason” they missed the big picture. The Grapevine’s been posting great discussions for a long time, and I’m glad it got some well-deserved attention. Apologies for writing an essay instead of a comment.

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