Jalen Rose lit the match on a conversation that has people weighing the price of culture appropriation.
“I wish our culture had to be purchased,” tweeted the NBA analyst on Oct. 25. Within hours the tweet became a popular conversation across the platform.
While a few questioned what inspired the tweet, more than enough people were willing to chime in with their own opinions of how cultural appropriation is already being monetized.
For starters, several people were convinced Black culture in particular has been the most appropriated culture with little to no payouts for the community at large. Aside from public figures, athletes and entertainers who have managed to amass wealth, scores of commenters found that everyone else was handed the short end of the stick when cashing in on culture. “You and ME BOTH [shush emoji] Every time we reinvent ourselves and add to our culture Here comes the “How can WE PROFIT OFF THEM CROWD’ and make it our own at the same time! SMH,” commented one person.
From the influence of music, film, food, clothing, sports — and countless other facets of Black culture — some people found that singling out Black culture from that of the culture of the country as a whole was not possible. “Black culture is American culture,” wrote one person. In making a connection between Black and American culture as synonymous with one another it was inevitable that the conversation would drift into territory of Americans history of using people of color for service. “Been stealing it since the boats docked at U.S. ports [to] bring us here,” and “I think you just came up with the perfect pay-for for reparations.”
Rose, who played in the NBA for thirteen seasons, was even questioned by some who saw no argument to be made as it pertains to the influence Black culture has had on the evolution of professional basketball and the league. “You think NBA players would make this much if not for the “buying in” of “the culture”?”
Rose opted to not engage in the ongoing dialogues, so his intention behind the tweet — along with his take on the comments — remains publicly unknown. Still, he managed to get far more than a penny for his own thought as people exposed how they truly view the significance of culture.