I can’t remember the last time I watched anything on MTV. I don’t have cable anymore, so it’s not really even an option and I kind of forgot that the channel even existed (do they even have music videos anymore?!). Oddly enough, I came across an MTV produced video on Facebook a few days ago with an interesting title. “Are cracker, redneck, and white trash racist?” I was immediately intrigued and watched the 5-minute video. The video is part of MTV’s Decoded series, which is a weekly series on MTV News, hosted by Franchesca Ramsey. Franchesca covers topics such as, race, pop culture and “other uncomfortable things” according to the shows YouTube page.
After I watched the first video, I was left wondering what this series was about and if they had more videos. I then spent the better part of my afternoon watching them all. Oops! Although I didn’t exactly get much done that afternoon, I do think I learned a few things, so it definitely wasn’t a waste of time. Of all the videos I watched, “7 Myths About Cultural Appropriation Debunked” stood out to me the most. This is likely because this topic has been a hot button issue as of late and also because it’s a topic that has intrigued me for a long time. I’ve had many conversations with friends and family about it and have done my best to try to explain why dressing in Native American garb or as a rapper and painting your face brown for Halloween was inappropriate and disrespectful. While I’ve always stuck to my guns, I haven’t always been able to precisely articulate why doing these things is disrespectful.
After watching the MTV video though, I came away with a little better understanding of cultural appropriation and I feel that I can better explain to others. It seems as though the issue comes up at least once a week in the media and, based on the conversations the media coverage causes, there is still a lot of misunderstanding. If you’re anything like me, you like to be able to articulate yourself well and be knowledgeable about topics before you enter into conversation or debate about said topics. As far as cultural appropriation goes, this video is a really great one to use to bolster your confidence and to show others who might actually believe some or all of the myths they discuss.
Cultural appropriation is really only part of the overall conversation about race in the United States. If we can find better ways to explain and understand these pieces of the puzzle though, I think we can eventually affect true change.
I encourage anyone and everyone to watch this video as well as the others MTV has created. I’m not sure what else you can watch on MTV these days, but I’m glad that someone over there thought these videos were a good idea.
After all, knowledge is power.
Here’s the Cultural Appropriation Video. Enjoy!