White Negroes: When Cornrows Were in Vogue...and Other Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation

Beacon. Nov. 2019. 184p. notes. ISBN 9780807011805. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780807011980. SOC SCI
In this debut work of nonfiction, with a title borrowed from a 1957 essay by Norman Mailer, Jackson (English, Northwestern Univ.) explores the long roots and far reaching effects of cultural appropriation and its ties to racial inequity through a litany of illustrations. With modern case studies showing instances of cultural appropriation in everything from music, art, and fashion to food, entrepreneurship, and activism, Jackson argues that this deeply ingrained phenomenon is stealing wealth from black Americans to benefit white Americans. In explaining how cultural appropriation has become commonplace, Jackson reveals the serious repercussions that can result. Whether through a popular overnight meme or YouTube videos gone viral, Jackson tracks how ideas from black creators have infiltrated American society—but not to the financial benefit of their creators, who get lost in the shadow of the limelight their appropriators take over.
VERDICT A thoughtful addition to social science and African American studies collections.

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