Last week, the popular YouTube show, “The Grapevine,” caused outrage on social media. A controversial clip from one of their latest episodes went viral. “The Grapevine” is a show that provides a space for black men and women to gather weekly to sit and chat in a panel-style discussion.
The clip featured one of the panelists, Seren Sensei stating that Bruno Mars is a cultural appropriator.
The Washington Post described cultural appropriation and gave an example as well:
“Cultural appropriation refers to someone taking aspects of a minority culture, such as its music, and using it for personal gain. Elvis Presley, who became famous by performing songs written by black artists, is considered by many to be a cultural appropriator.”
The clip of Sensei quickly went viral. It gained the attention of media, fans and celebrities as they all rushed to Mars’ defense. The social media responses were overwhelming.
Some of these responses were negative. People complained about there being another conversation about pop stars. Others complained that there were better issues to focus on. The Grapevine talks about a range of topics, from colorism, to Bill Cosby, to the Libyan slave trade.
The creator of “The Grapevine,” Ashley Akunna, submitted a letter to Blavity titled “The Key Message That Everyone Needs To Takeaway From Our Viral Bruno Mars Video That Shook The Internet.”
In that letter, Akunna addressed a trend that happens when conversations go viral–people don’t do their research.
“Sure, Bruno Mars was the catalyst of our conversation. However, our focus was really about dissecting an industry that is increasingly telling us that they love our black music from non-black bodies. Hot takes are great. However, so much nuance is left out of the conversation when you do not do the work of going to the source of the conversation and understanding the argument fully. We reduce critical conversations when we relegate people to the silos of haters and bitterness due to defensiveness.”
Nuance, or subtle differences are often lost in conversation. When you see or hear something that you may not agree, try to figure out the context around that statement. Many times, we find ourselves butting into conversations, and being “loud and wrong” on social media.
To freeze someone in one moment and ignore any work they’ve done in the past, just for the chance to seem “woke,” is unproductive. When this occurs, there’s often a cycle of bitterness and defensiveness that results in no true dialogue occurring–just a bunch of sassy memes and gifs in the comments section.
Let’s understand that some subjects will never have a solid “right” or “wrong” answer. Life is much more complex than that.