Mass Appeal vs. Subculture: The Asphyxiation of a Nation

Jessica Udeh, Opinions Writer

Throughout the history of “Black America,” certain aspects of our community have attracted the attention of others, an attraction that has led to the hijacking of a subculture.
Musical genres such as Hip-Hop, Jazz, Rock, etc—which originated in “Black America”— have been appropriated, re-branded, and embroidered with the markings of the masses. Hip Hop recording artist, songwriter and record producer, J. Cole, sat down with 105.1 Breakfast Club’s Angie Martinez. In this interview, Cole made a comment that has been reiterated through a number of instances: “White sells.” An article from variety.com titled “How Elvis Sparked the  Rock ‘n’ Roll Era on July 5, 1954” is an example of a Black invention being “white-washed.”
The argument of Mass Appeal vs. Subculture also comes into play in certain avenues such as fashion and beauty. In this photo taken from allthingsammamama.com, we see a a hairstyle prevalent in the black subculture, bantu knots. Bantu knots—first known as Zulu knots—are a hair maintenance style typically worn by African & Caribbean women that originated in West Africa. Although, this style is now more commonly worn by African American girls, the assimilation of this style has changed the meaning. Below is the mass appeal, an imitation of the subculture that is more desired by mainstream America.mass appeal
Though many aspects of black culture have been transformed from a subcultural expression to American pop-culture, I believe we still have the right to preserve our legacy. The line between appreciation and appropriation is  very thin, and the act of replicating a “trend” instead of understanding the history is suffocating to the origin.