No One's Invited To The Cookout! | 3 Things You Need To Know About Protecting Black Culture
Let's talk about gatekeeping, shall we?
A gatekeeper, as defined in the Chicago Tribune, is “...someone who has creative control in the media industry and selects what content is presented and on what terms”.
Cultural gatekeepers ensure that culture is not broken or used in a disingenuous manner just to appeal to pop culture. For example, one of the most well known gatekeepers of our time is Beyoncé.
Her projects such as Brown Skin Girl and Homecoming provide an appreciative look into African American culture. Beyoncé' presents this content in a manner that uplifts the community and successfully represents Black people of all skin tones. (She even hired an all Black team!)
Outside of people with major influence, we can be the informal gatekeepers of our cultural values.
Why is protecting Black culture important?
Black culture is RICH. Oftentimes, though, it is not properly represented as such. Different aspects of African American culture are all too often used simply for their aesthetic value and financial gain.
This only happens, though, when our culture is placed in the hands of people who are not native to it and are not obligated to maintaining its wellbeing.
As a community, we are very family oriented. From the Black man head nod to the sweet old Black lady who calls you "baby"; we are connected, and our connection is sacred.
We cannot expect other cultures to understand how much our culture means to us. Black culture simply does not have the same value to someone who is not Black themselves.
We cannot invite non-Black folk to the "cookout" simply because they are decent human beings.
Although this is only a metaphorical phenomenon, this aspect is important to who we are as a people. There is nothing wrong with keeping some things for ourselves!
What do things look like without protecting our culture?
Without preserving our culture and letting others know that some things are just "hand's-off", we can continue to expect things such as...
- White women wearing and "popularizing" box braids.
- Asian men making nappy hair tutorials
- "Blackfishing" from non-Black social media influencers.
- Need I go on???
We cannot become complacent with the constant theft of so many things that are important to our cultural identity.
It is imperative that we learn to recognize the difference in cultural appreciation vs. cultural appropriation and be prepared to speak out.
How can we protect our culture?
The first step towards protecting our culture is proper education.
Black children cannot carry on traditions or hold values they never learned about! It is important that Black parents do their best to educate their children on their heritage.
It should become normal for parents to teach their children to love their skin and the way they talk and dress amongst so many more things. This will help to create a confident and knowledgeable identity within our youth.
This education must be present in school as well!
So much racism and colorism is perpetuated by students, teachers, and the school system itself but it often goes unrecognized and starts within the school’s curriculum.
It is important that Black children learn that their history expands far beyond the Transatlantic slave trade and the Jim Crow era. They are obligated to learn about Black inventors, entrepreneurs, artists, political leaders, and so much more in addition to those 400 years.