Thursday, January 31, 2013

American Idol Appropriation and White Privilege


Alright, there better not be any shaming over this admission.  Last night, I watched American Idol.  What can I say, I love the horror that happens during the audition stage.  At any rate, last night we were introduced to Papa Peachez.

Like many contestants in recent seasons, Papa Peachez decided that he needed a hook to get his shot at a golden ticket. Unlike many contestants, he didn't wander into the audition room in a weird costume.  Papa Peachez decided that his shtick to get attention would be far more common place - racial appropriation and White privilege.  In the little features that American Idol creates for contestants they believe will boost the attention of the audience, this is what Papa Peachez had to say:
Most people look at me and they see a cute little white boy and I'm really just a big black woman trapped in a little White boys body.  My voice has a lot of gospel and a lot of soulful influence from Mississippi.
Pause for a moment to digest that quote.

Already I want to see this fool leave on the first day in Hollywood.  Notice that not only does he supposedly have the soul of a Black woman, but a "big Black woman," because we certainly don't come in various sizes.  Most musicians will take influences from different styles of music but from what Peachez said, for him this isn't about blending styles and creating a new sound, but his right as a White male to take anything he wants from Black culture.  In short, he should be called Papa Racial Appropriation.


What bothered me about this segment, is that it was presented as though what Peachez had to say wasn't offensive and problematic as hell.  Instead, we got to hear Mariah and Niki talk about how unique Peachez is, further giving the impression that what Peachez had to say was simply an artful expression of his individuality. I doubt that Mariah or Niki saw Peachez's back story, but to an audience which most certainly would contain some racially ignorant White people, who have not bothered to think about the implications of what Peachez had to say, this will all seem quite normal.

Dear White People, appropriating our culture, doesn't make you unique, it makes you a bigot. Peachez made sure to tell everyone that he is a gay man and it irked me because as someone who negotiates a marginalization, he should damn well know better.  I bet he thinks that gay is the new Black as well.  If you are marginalized in some way, you damn well owe it to yourself and the group that you are a part of, not to participate in the oppression of others because unlike purely privileged people, you know damn well how it feels.  Furthermore, by participating in oppressive behaviours yourself, you only encourage the idea that some people deserved to be 'othered' because of their identity. I can only hope this racist ass who thinks he is a big Black woman on the inside will be on the first plane home.  The last thing Black people need is to watch as the appropriation of our cultures and bodies is used to bring success to an ignorant bigoted White man.