Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2020

Department 1

Africana Studies


Critiques of cultural appropriation in regards to inappropriate Halloween costumes and the phenomenon of Instagram models “black-fishing” their followers are more prevalent now than ever before, but white exploitation of black culture and appearance is nothing new. In academia, the term “cultural appropriation” describes how aspects of a marginalized group’s culture are taken by those in a dominant group without regard to their cultural significance. In her chapter, “Black Culture Without Black People,” Imani Kai Johnson refers to appropriation as “colonialism at the scale of the dancing body or the sacred ritual object, its life and dynamism reduced to a thing for consumption or a costume for play” (Kai Johnson, 2020). This paper will explore how American society’s general illusion of color-blind ideology perpetuates an environment of justified cultural appropriation that is often tied to economic exploitation. Through an examination of both historical and modern instances of appropriation in music, dance, fashion and appearance, and academia, it becomes evident that the “whitewashing” of black cultural practices disregards and erases the history of struggle and cultural nuances present in their original forms.


Written for AFS 250: Black Feminism in Film & Hip Hop

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.