I saw a back and forth the other day about singer Halsey’s looks, after she appeared on the covered of Rolling Stone magazine looking quite a bit less, ehem, “white” than people are used to seeing. Some assumed the singer had gotten a tan and a wig in what they called “cultural appropriation at its best.” Another called for someone to “tell her that she’s not black.”
I couldn’t possibly care less what people think of Halsey, but what struck me (and it shouldn’t surprise me at this point) was swiftness of the pearl-clutching reactions from those assuming she’s “appropriating” black culture.
For the record, she is half African American, but I won’t digress.
This reaction isn’t isolated. In fact, it’s the boy-who-cried-wolf SO often that political comedian Steven Crowder’s made an entire bit out of it—taking the concept to its absolute extreme.
As English writer Charles Caleb Colton once said, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” And 99.999999999 percent of the time when some blissfully well-intended person or company is accused of cultural appropriation, it’s usually exactly that: flattery.
Take Dior, for example, which was accused of appropriating Mexican culture by featuring white actress Jennifer Lawrence in an ad campaign dressed in traditional escaramuza garb.
Or luxury fashion house Carolina Herrera which was more recently accused of doing the same thing with its 2020 Resort designs mimicking the Tenango de Doria community in Mexico “where each piece of embroidery tells the story of the community and each element has a personal, family or community meaning.” (In that last case, the Mexican government even had a conniption fit.)
By these standards, it’s probably not ok for me to appear in public wearing any of the hand embroidered Mexican blouses my MEXICAN family has purchased for me—because you know, I’m only a Ramirez by marriage.
Here’s my point in this exhaustingly long, overdone, where-is-she-going-with-this lead up: Our world is on a hair trigger when it comes to anything that even remotely looks like cultural appropriation.
Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?
No seriously—where in the world are the social justice cultural appropriation police when it comes to the ludicrous exhibition of cultural opportunism in the Democrat party—particularly among presidential candidates?
I’ll be the first to say that my gringa accent is definitely here to stay. I’ll always have one when I speak Spanish (which I do, fluently), but even I cringed when I listened to “Beto” O’Rourke, Cory Booker, and even Julian Castro randomly burst into Spanish in response to their exclusively English-speaking debate moderators in the first Democratic debate of the 2020 election season.
Ladies and gentlemen (or rather, I suppose, señoras y señores), it was awful. Someone (rightly) compared it to the cringe-worthy Bridesmaids scene where Kristen Wig just upchucks random Spanish words in her engagement toast.
Awful Spanish skills aside, that’s not my broader point. This a pattern with Democrats—particularly when they’re looking to get ahead.
Whether it’s Robert Francis O’Rourke “Hispanicizing” his image by referring to himself as “Beto,” or Hillary Clinton donning a deep southern (sometimes African-American) accent over and over and over again, it always seems to come at awfully opportune times. For Beto, it was launching a political campaign in a heavily Hispanic state. For Clinton, it was political speaking engagements to crowds in Arkansas or Alabama.
It’s a means to an end when Pennsylvania-born Joe Biden tells his largely black audience that Mitt Romney would “put y’all back in chains.”
It’s a means to an end when New York-born Latina Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez breaks out her best hood accent at an Al Sharpton event for a mainly black audience, and talks about her “hardscrabble” climb to the top.
They’re not imitating to flatter; they’re imitating to pander.
They. Want. Your. Vote.
For everyone tearing their hair out over Carolina Herrera’s “appropriation” of Mexican culture or Halsey’s “too dark for a white girl” skin, THIS HERE is what you should really be upset about. You should be livid that Democratic presidential hopefuls can’t see anything BUT your ethnicity or your race. You should be livid that these hopefuls can’t see you as human beings FIRST—instead of some political prize to be won.
Think about it. Why Spanish? Why Latino nicknames? Why African-American slang and southern accents?
Where are the candidates speaking Chinese? Or French? (These two happen to be the third and fourth most spoken languages in the US, by the way.)
I’ll tell you why: because the Chinese and French-speaking population COMBINED (roughly 5 million people in the US) can’t hold a candle to the over 90 million Latinos and African Americans in this country. You, my friends, are bigger prize.
You’ve been reduced to an electoral commodity, and nothing more.
And that ought to infuriate you.
So I challenge you: go to the polls for the issues. Look at the country around you (i.e. the lowest African American and Hispanic unemployment levels in recorded history)—and tune out the language. Tune out the accents. Tune out the BS.
You’re a human being. You’re not a pawn.
Mary Ramirez is a full-time writer, creator of www.afuturefree.com, and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show on KSEV 700 Radio in Houston. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree