Black Community: No Permission Needed to Gate Keep OUR Culture.

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( There is always a heated discussion when it comes to the topic of “gatekeeping”. It seems these days that everyone has an opinion about what belongs and what doesn’t, and no one has the right to say otherwise. Gatekeeping could serve a purpose, but it has become a word used solely as a weapon, and it tends to take away the rights of someone to speak to what belongs to them. Example, can you imagine someone walking if your house and dictating to you how it should be decorated? Imagine someone telling you what clothes you should wear in your home…or arguing about taking their shoes off upon entering your home.

Black Community: No Permission Needed to Gate Keep OUR Culture.

The key word is YOUR HOME. It is beyond rude to try to gate keep what a person should do in relation to their private personal space. Yet, you have people that do such every day, and the battle regarding culture is just as bad. When something is shared that does not mean ownership is transferred, and we have no rights gatekeeping something that doesn’t belong to us. The battle got gatekeeping can lead to the discussion of entitlement, thief, and humanity. If we cannot be honest about what belongs to us, then it leaves the door open for infringing upon the rights and spaces of another. Black people in this country have to fight for the things that rightfully belong to them, and this included Black Culture.

Culture is something meant to be shared, but it is also meant to be respected. Those outside of a culture do not have the right to dictate how said culture should function. In speaking with people about gatekeeping and culture, if I lead with the previous statement…it is often agreed upon. The problem tends arise, given the perspective for this discussion, when Black people decide to gatekeep Black culture. We are constantly told not to gate keep, but others are allowed to gatekeep their culture because it is respected. This is something Black people need to come to terms with, and as a people we may want to consider being a monolithic on this topic. We need to gatekeep OUR culture because it belongs to US. Just because the culture is shared, or appreciated, doesn’t give anyone the right to dictate to us how it should function. It is important to understand, yes there are cultures within the culture that deserve the same respect. Given all the fuss about Hip Hop lately, I find it interesting that this is an art form rooted in American Black culture, yet we are rebuked for gatekeeping.

In this beef between Kendrick Lamar and Drake many had something to say about what is Hip Hop verses Pop. Let me submit to the delegation that is American Blacks decide Drake is Pop…that’s what he is. This isn’t about whether Drake is Black or not…its about the fact that Hip Hop is a part AFRICAN-AMERICAN music culture and we have the right to decide what is and is not Hip Hop. This is not based on feelings it is based on who the culture belongs to. Yes, it can be shared as previously stated, but in sharing our culture we are not surrendering ownership nor its origin.

I love music in other cultures; however, you will never hear me try to define the genre beyond what they dictate because it belongs to them. Example, I’m not Korean and I have no business speaking on what is or is not K-pop. It’s because of this, I initially did not understand the push back when the discussion about Drake’s Hip Hop card amongst American Blacks came into question. This is where gatekeeping became a weapon…because as we were told we had no right to gate keep Hip Hop there were white Americans gate keeping country when Beyonce decided to make a country album. There is a darker issue at play when we see the gatekeeping double standard.

In order to truly respect a culture, you must respect the source of said culture. This has been the battle in America since day one. Black Americans constantly have to fight for the rights to their own person…so in turn there is a constant battle to be respected through our culture. We see it in so many aspects when we wear our hair in cultural styles there is negativity and questioning of character, but someone else can appropriate it and they are both celebrated and defended. So in music when we say no this is not Hip Hop there is backlash because how dare we gatekeep in our own house, and the “powers that be” decide who they like and feel should represent Hip Hop and we’re expected to simply be silent. If we aren’t careful, we will help those that would mean to appropriate culture because some of our people buy into the culture is to be shared concept. Again…sharing doesn’t mean giving ownership. When we are dealing with OUR culture, we don’t need permission to decide what defines OUR culture. We don’t need permission to gate keep OUR culture.

Staff Writer; Christian Starr

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