I linked to this story on Beverly Jenkins, which is a really good read. We received a comment from one of the readers who is worried that if she read books by Beverly Jenkins, she might be accused of cultural appropriation.
“I own several books of Beverly’s but with all the talk about cultural appropriation, I stopped buying them. I didn’t want to be accused while on the bus I took daily….“
Clearly, there is some confusion to the term. People use it in different ways, and it’s a topic that generates heated debate, so its definition can seem a little vague and it’s easy to get confused. Let’s look at it in the context of goods, services, and art.
Let’s say there is an Native American tribe that produces moccasins with their traditional tribal designs.
If I decide to set up shop next to them and make cheap knock-off moccasins with the same tribal designs, I’m guilty of cultural appropriation. I’m profiting from their culture and I’m diluting the value of their product. Not only the tribe gets nothing, but since I don’t know what these symbols mean, I’m just throwing them together, disrespecting their cultural heritage.
If I go and buy a pair of moccasins from the tribal shop, I’m not engaging in any cultural appropriation. I’m supporting the tribe with my purchase. The tribe has made the decision to sell their moccasins, so they clearly don’t mind if the general public wears them, and the tribe benefits from the sale.
When you pretend to be African-American and spend half of your life claiming African-American heritage like Rachel Dolezal, you are guilty of cultural appropriation. This person pretended to be African-American and used those claims to become branch president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP.) She claimed to belong to a certain group and directly profited from her deception.
The fact that we watch Empire as a family doesn’t make us guilty of cultural appropriation. It is a show offered to the public. Its creators want as many people as possible to watch it. By watching the show, we are supporting it. We are not claiming its heritage for ourselves. We simply like the show and if enough people watch it, hopefully they will make more of it. And if I ever meet Taraji P. Henson, I will ask her for an autograph.
By buying a book by Beverly Jenkins, you’re not appropriating anything. You are buying a beautifully written story by one of the best authors working in Romance today. You are supporting her efforts. Please feel free to read it on the bus. You won’t regret it.
Since Ian Vance’s beloved wife was murdered years ago, the hardened bounty hunter knows he’ll never feel love or tenderness again, so he’s made it his mission to ensure others get their justice. But when he’s charged with delivering a sharp-eyed beauty to the law, Ian can’t help but feel he may still have something left to lose.
Orphaned at twelve, Maggie Freeman has always found her way out of trouble. But now there’s a vigilante mob at her back who would like nothing more than to see her hang for a crime she didn’t commit. Maggie may have to accept help for the first time in her life . . . even if it’s from the one man standing between her and freedom.
As the past closes in, the sassy prisoner and toughened lawman may just find a passion between them that could bring blinding happiness . . . if they’ll let it.