“Thin line between cultural appropriation and appreciation” for Jamaican culture

Athena Clarke (Jamaica Observer) on the “Thin line between cultural appropriation and appreciation for Jamaican culture on TikTok.” [Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.]

Cultural appropriation has long been par for the course with social media, but given the exploding popularity of TikTok as a platform that allows users to showcase various aspects of cultures through music and dance, this frowned upon practice might be running rampant.

Among the casualties? Jamaican culture.

Professor and Socio-Cultural Analyst in the Institute of Caribbean Studies at the University of the West Indies, Donna P Hope said that while TikTok promotes visibility for Jamaican culture, more so music and dance on a global stage, there is a thin line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation.

“Where Jamaican culture is concerned, and we’re talking about dancehall dance, I find that there is a thin line between cultural appropriation and appreciation, especially when you look at the kind of power dynamics and the kind of privileges that some groups have over… Jamaicans and Jamaican dancers,” Hope told OBSERVER ONLINE.

Cultural appropriation is a term used to describe the taking over of creative or artistic forms, themes, or practices by one cultural group from another. Cultural appreciation can be defined as an individual or community of people engaging in the norms and traditions of another culture, while acknowledging the source.

Hope explained that overseas-based entertainers often utilise aspects of Jamaican culture out of genuine love for the island’s art forms, and even provide opportunities for locals, but they are better able to transform and monetise the product because of better resources and the imbalances that exist. “Because I work with a lot of the Europeans and foreigners, and in a lot of ways when you speak with people directly, their intention is not to take from the culture, because many of them do everything possible to give back to the culture, to give to the people here, to form connections with dancers here and make opportunities available to them,” she said.

The Jamaican accent is one such element that has often been imitated on TikTok. Social media influencer Chet Hanks is popularly known for speaking in the Jamaican dialect, with his videos accumulating hundreds of thousands of likes on the profiles they are shared on.

And, with dance routines often being accompanied by music, catchy songs from the dancehall such as ‘Throat’ by Gage and ‘Bend Over’ by RDX have been revived on the platform where they are being used by users from across the world to rack up millions of views and likes. [. . .]

For full article, see https://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latest-news/thin-line-between-cultural-appropriation-and-appreciation-for-jamaican-culture-on-tiktok

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