Black culture has shaped many things in everyday life. We've seen our creations admired by many and appropriated by even more. Most recently, this issue was brought to the forefront during Marc Jacobs' New York Fashion Week show when he had a runway full of white models wearing colorful dreadlocks — a hairstyle most commonly associated with people of African or Caribbean descent. When called out about his cultural appropriation, Jacobs' thought it would be a good idea to point the finger at black women for wearing straightened hair.
Beyond fashion, our culture extends to music, food and goes as deep as the language we speak and the slang we use. Unfortunately, our words are often misused and butchered and once that’s happened – it’s a wrap. We call this phenomenon, columbusing — named after the late Christopher Columbus who insisted that he found the Americas, but we all know that was indeed a lie.
Every Columbus Day, Black Twitter creates a list of everything that was ever stolen from us. From dances to our beloved “on fleek,” we've seen how a certain group of people have taken our words and made them unbearable to hear. I took it upon myself to ask some of my followers what words they felt had been victims of columbusing lately and the responses were hilarious. Here is what the TL said:
Among these tweets, I got a lot of responses saying that the word “ratchet” was still being used like it just hit the streets. As a linguist myself, I believe that columbusing is lowkey offensive simply because it’s another way of appropriating culture that is not yours.
Let's keep the conversation going, what are some words that you have either had to explain or hear in your workplace?
Let me know in the comments below.
Header Image Courtesy of Funny Or Die.