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Nsikan Akpan
over 1 year Story
New Years Resolution 2: Taking Black Back

This is not an article about cultural appropriation. Instead, I will address my black people on what we allow to be taken from us.

Everyone obviously thinks it's cool to be black and is capitalizing on our oppression. I recall singing along to "The Bed Intruder Song," not realizing that it was white guys that put that whole thing together, turning a scary situation into a laughable scenario. Then there's the Nae Nae and other dance moves, African-American vernacular and all that ebonics comes with, as well as certain types of foods originated by our people that are being sold at high prices in gentrified neighborhoods. The list goes on but my point is this: we must take ownership of what is ours, whether that is history, creativity, or pain.

The Ghana Must Go Bag was a plastic bag created under the rule of  Nigeria's President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari (January 1983), ordering immigrants without papers to leave the country. Recently, a fashion house by the name of Celine premiered a line of garments with the exact patterns as the Ghana Must Go Bag. No shame. I am not proud, per se, of Nigeria's president kicking people out of my family's home country, but I acknowledge the situation as something between us. Who is a European designer to butt in and claim cloth for the taking? And then there's the swap meet for kente and dashikis that everyone but black people was invited to.

Though we cannot control what others do, we can take responsibility for our culture and business, bringing the two together. I recently read a book entitled This Side of Home. While I consider the novel a weak read due to its mediocre attempt at addressing gentrification, the main character, Maya had a point when she encouraged her friend, Essence, to not only go to beauty school, but to take business classes as well that she may own a beauty salon instead of just working in one.

2018 will not be the year of complaining. No more Oscars So White/Grammy's So White/Whatever So White. This is the year of DOING. Not to say that I don't witness the work of my brothers and sisters, I do. I see you every day, putting in the work and making something out of nothing, creating purpose out of pain...however, how much more could we get done if we did not stop to tweet or post every time other groups do things to offend us? We're different: our hair grows upwards, our Diaspora contains the most variety, and our creativity is unmatched. Therefore, let us not be surprised that our oppression is endless.

For our non-believing brothers and sisters or those who have a different faith, in the Christian bible, there is a man named Joseph who was favored by his father - both earthly and heavenly. Because Joseph was special, his brothers tormented him and later sold him into slavery. This is just one example of the cruelty that being set-apart invites. Because black people are set-apart, injustice will continue to come for us, but our response must be more radical than it has been in years past.

Radical does not mean vengeance. (I know you know this, but this is just in case we have some peeping oppressors on my site. Hello). Radicalism in 2018 looks like ownership. At times it seems as though ownership goes against our DNA. Our African ancestors didn’t believe in owning the land but rather belonging to it. That’s how black people created Hip-Hop in South Bronx in 1977. A group of black boys was having fun and experimenting with music, not thinking for once that it could be a big business, not aware that it was theirs. But we all know that today, the Hip-Hop industry is owned by white people.

I am not giving anyone permission to criticize or assault anyone who decides to appropriate or simply just appreciate what we have. Still, it is your duty to learn your culture and take pride in it. The way we can take ownership is by simply knowing what is ours.

Do you know what belongs to you?

Love, Peace & Coconut Oil,

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