Denzel Washington‘s electrifying portrayal of Malcolm X in Spike Lee’s epic film included more great lines than are easy to count. But the one that lands with the most force, perhaps because its violent imagery is fashioned out of revered totems, is this: “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us.” With that sharp phrasing Malcolm X distilled to its essence a contrast between black history and white history in America. Those fissures between black and white don’t just engulf places like Chicago and Ferguson — they’re all over pop culture. The notion of cultural appropriation has become a huge issue.
The truth about issues like this is often most succinctly expressed in comedy. In a comic routine with an edge at the Soul Train Music Awards, musician Erykah Badu comically banned rappers like Andre 3000 and Young Thug, but Badu kindly lifted the ban for controversial white Australian rapper Iggy Azalea — often accused of cultural appropriation. In her funny but acid turn on stage making some pretend phone calls, Badu said, “Iggy Azalea? Yeah, hey. Oh, no, no, no, no, you can come, cause what you doing is definitely not rap.” Badu essentially says Azalea, who emigrated to the states from down under, landed on 21st century Plymouth Rock. The implication is that to rap for real, the rock has to have landed on you.
— DontFoLLowMe (@IDisDummies) November 30, 2015