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About Beyoncé’s Appropriation of Indian Culture

The supposed tempest over Beyoncé’s Indian adventure first blew through my awareness back in January. Now our crazy-long presidential campaign, and its crazy man-of-the hour, Trump the Trainwreck, has me thinking about it all over again.

You may recall that at the beginning of the year, Beyoncé debuted a video with Coldplay. It was shot in India, and in it she sports a gorgeous sari with Indian jewelry, and deliberately flashes palms adorned with beautiful henna tattoos. Apparently, some disapproved. The key word here is “apparently,” but I’ll get back to that in a minute. Some Tweeters took issue with Beyoncé’s Indian fashion, suggesting that she was appropriating Indian culture.

First of all, what does it means to culturally appropriate? Basically it speaks to the stealing of cultural elements by someone from a different background with selfish intent. So if I get the PC Police’s accusation right, by dressing the way Indian women do every day of the week for a music video meant to entertain, Beyoncé was robbing Indian women of their identity and culture? People, you know that’s bullshit, you know you do. Beyoncé was representing. As in paying homage to the beauty of Indian culture. Henna body art? Yes, please! BTW, none of the Indians reacting to this brouhaha agreed. They loved seeing their magnificent style celebrated by a beloved superstar.

And here’s the funny thing: Upon first checking out the story, I noticed that every article quoted and re-quoted the same three or four tweets. Bottom line? In reporting on the furor caused by Beyoncé’s “behavior,” these media sites were simply engaging in click baiting. There never was any furor!

In the meantime, let me point you to a very real case of appropriation that happened last week: Donald Trump pointed to a black man at one of his rallies and said: “Look at my African-American over here.” As if that man belonged to him. Like a slave. I am happy to report that the Twittersphere went batshit.

Photo: Instagram/Beyoncé

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