EYE SEE: #GROUPDYYNAMICS

Is this cultural appropriation?

We hosted a panel about cultural appropriation and it was too beautiful for words.

I forget how nerve-racking it is to talk to an audience. Public speaking is a skill after all, and one that I have yet to master. Still I decided it was a good idea for Dyynamics’ first event to be a panel about something important. An event that would lift the site’s mission, “more cultural, less news”, off the web page and bring it to life in real time. So I started planning our first #GROUPDYYNAMICS event and thought, how do I make my life more difficult? How about by trying to break down cultural appropriation and address all of its issues while attempting to provide solutions in a two hour time framE? Ok, yes. Do that Maude.

For this year’s theme: “Culture Fluidity in the 21st Century”, #GROUPDYYNAMICS addressed the topic of cultural appropriation and how living in a globalized world is igniting rapid change in social structure. The two hour event corralled peers of the creative industry and successful leaders in their respective fields to discuss issues that impact our global community. 

 

 

So what exactly is cultural appropriation? Ivie Ani, music editor of OkayPlayer and #GROUPDYYNAMICS panelist, summed it up perfectly when she said: “when a minority culture is being exploited by a dominant culture.” Other gems captured by the amazing panelists included:

Respect is a huge oversight when brands and organizations look to collaborate or appeal to a minority demographic. I think if respect was the motivation, versus profit, there would be more examples of success.

Qimmah Saafir, founder of Hannah Magazine, on what brands need to consider when they are looking to tap into a certain demographic. 

I seek inspiration in the good and in the beauty of women. I don’t focus on the negatives. That’s not what fuels my work, I focus on how to bring empowerment to ALL women and when I think like that amazing things happen. My work comes to life on a Serena Williams or a Penelope Cruz.

Laquan Smith on his response to the media’s often negative depiction of black women.

I have been told not to do certain roles, or consider certain “typecasts” because of how I look. But I always go into an offer knowing that humanity is the story and that is true for the crackhead or the prostitute or the seemingly bad guy. They are human stories that deserve to be shared and that is the beauty of acting. How can I tell this person’s story and make it more relatable? How do we do a better job of showing the complexity of humanity is the more important question.

Shannon Thornton on Hollywood’s lack of diversity and what they could do to avoid stereotyping talent. 

Knowing our history and tackling it at the root of the problem is what will ultimately help shed light on this issue. Educate yourselves, continue to stay informed. Read. Be curious. Look for the answers and that will help continue to positively guide this conversation.

Ivie Ani on how to best approach issues of cultural appropriation online and in real life.

Princeton’s Department of African Studies sent us some reading materials from their  GLS 331 Japan and Black America course for those of you interested in learning about cultural synergy and Black culture influence!

·         excerpts: Eds. Bill Mullen and Kathryn Watson  W.E.B. DuBois on Asia: Crossing the World’s Color Line

·         Shana Redmond “Extending Diaspora: The NAACP and Uplift Cultures in the Interwar Black Pacific” in Anthem: Social Movements and the Sound of Solidarity in the African Diaspora

·         Korematsu v. U.S.

·         Brown v. Board of Education

·         Emily Roxworthy “Blackface Behind Barbed Wire: Gender and Racial Triangulation in the Japanese American Internment Camps” &

·         “The Secret History of Black Baseball Players in Japan” NPR

·         excerpts:  E. Taylor Atkins Blue Nippon: Authenticating Jazz in Japan

·         Eds. Heike Raphael Hernandez and Shannon Steen AfroAsian Encounters: Culture, History and Politics

·         Yuri Kochiyama Passing it On: A Memoir

·         Aoki (Richard Aoki Documentary)

·         Ian Condry Hip Hop Japan: Rap and the Paths of Cultural Globalization

·         Kerry James Marshall “Every Beat of my Heart” (film)

·         Iona Rozeal Brown (Art Institute of Chicago Catalog)

·         “Tokyo Rising with Pharrell Williams” (film)

·         Angel Kyodo Williams Being Black

Big THANK YOU to DJ Ekua.PM for providing the vibes of the night. Get in on the “More Culture, Less News” playlist here

Ekua.pm is a fresh force within the entertainment and media industry—by embodying what it means to combine intersectionality from all sectors. In Fashion, she has worked with African Fashion Week NYC, modeled in Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 3 and assisted with photo-shoots produced in New African Women Magazine. She has co-founded a number of compelling ventures, such as Herstyl, a pop-up shop, the Faro, a networking group dedicated to changing African narratives and the Afrolit Podcast. Currently, she is taking the music industry to new heights through DJ-ing, calling her sounds “Swahili Vibes”. She listens and blends a plethora of sounds that can make anyone groove. Her passion has stayed consistent in connecting people through blending niche and ethnic cultures in vibrant cities through various mediums. Find her online @Ekuapm/@Ekua.pm on Soundcloud, Twitter, and Instagram.

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