Hi Zipporah, I write to you with much love.
Is this cultural appropriation you ask? I think — Not really. Here’s why:
If a branch from an orange tree was cut off and grafted into an apple tree, it would still try to bear oranges, but it will have the sap of an apple tree flowing in its branches. The orange fruit won’t be as original as the one from the orange tree.
However, if an apple tree all of a sudden, decided to bear oranges in its branches, that wouldn’t be so proper.
We often judge people based on actions and not intentions.
What I’m trying to say IMHO, is that Black Americans are severed branches, looking to reunite with their roots somehow, and they are definitely not taught about Africa and their culture in their schools or neighborhoods. What you may see on Afropunk, is them expressing the little they know and have seen about their ancient homeland, I’m sure they also wish they could know more.
On the other side, if it were pure apple trees trying to bear oranges, then we can bring the hammer down on appropriation.
Perhaps a situation like the one in Afropunk could simultaneously be used to educate black people in America about the meaning behind their attire. A hunger for awareness deserves a teacher who knows better to step in and teach.
But it would not be kind for orange trees to tell their severed branches grafted in apple trees, to not attempt to bear oranges because they degrade the quality of them. It's only natural that they would try.
Perhaps it's better to sympathize and educate.