To be honest, 2013 was a tough year for black folks.Every year has its share of racist activity and bad news, but there was something about this year that made it seem like white people had set claims on aspects of black culture in ways they never had before. We’ll admit, this isn’t the first time (Elvis anyone?), and it certainly won’t be the last, but it was quite possibly the most painfully obvious.
Every time we turned on the television, computer or radio, it seemed pop culture was saturated with songs, dances or trends that originated in the African-American community and all of a sudden people were praising and paying close attention to things that had existed for years.
So we decided to pull together all of the examples of things pop culture stole this year, from dances to music genres and even rappers themselves, not many things in black culture were safe this year.
If the word of the year in 2012 was YOLO
, this year’s word was twerking. And boy, was there a lot of it. Sure, Miley Cyrus was twerking, but so were a slew of other white celebrities
from real housewives to former Disney channel stars. Which is all well and good, except the fact that twerking in pop culture looks like this
and twerking originally looked like this
. And we promise you, no black person almost won Time Magazine’s Person of the Year after twerking at the VMAs.
We get it, maybe a lot of people didn’t watch 106 & Park in 2001 and have never seenG-Dep’s “Special Delivery” video
, but the Harlem shake from 12 years ago looked nothing like the viral video craze that took over the Internet this year. The Harlem shake from back in the day was done to syncopated rhythms, the Harlem shake of this year featured people swinging shirts, gyrating and doing whatever strange dance came to mind.
2013 was a big year for R&B music. But the frontrunners in the genre were what the black community affectionately calls “blue-eyed souls” like Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke. Timberlake splashed back on the scene this year with a show-stopping comeback performance at the Grammys and the release of two albums (“The 20/20 Experience,” “The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2″), while Thicke sailed to the top of the charts with his hit single “Blurred Lines,” which Billboard named the Song of the Summer (“Hey, Hey, Hey!”).
This past summer Kanye West sat with his soon-to-be mother-in-law Kris Jenner for a sit down on her, now-canceled talk show, and the rapper showed a side of himself we rarely see– the white Kanye. Shortly after footage from his interview was available, the Internet erupted with questions about Kanye’s voice and why he dropped his quintessential Chicago accent. The rapper later explained
why he switches his tone of voice in certain situations, an action known as “code-switching” in minority communities. “Even when you’re in certain magazines, it’s still like a dinner for Schmucks situation,” West says. “Are they inviting you to be a part of your situation, or are they inviting you to laugh at your tooth. We have our thing that every time we do it, we give them the ‘white’ voice.”
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