While “bae” only made its way to mainstream parlance in the last few years, it is a word that most black folk have been intimately familiar with for decades. … And then Pharrell put it in a song, Miley Cyrus did a cameo, and it gained the attention of mainstream media. Suddenly there were articles attempting to define the word “bae”, otherwise reputable businesses began implementing “bae” in their social media ad campaigns, and everybody and they mama started using it.I can’t say I did. But still…
Cultural appropriation at its best, steals, reduces, overuses and then disposes of words like so much bathwater. The linguist Jane H Hill defines language appropriation as “a type of complex cultural borrowing that involves a dominant group’s ‘theft’ of aspects of a target group’s language.” Hill claims that the ‘theft’ adds value to white identity while further marginalizing nondominant groups.Oh noes! We iz bein’ oppressed! Send moneys!
The good news is that black language is resilient and black folk are creative. So even when the dominant culture tries to dispose of the terms it wears out, other words and phrases will emerge.So, why are you squawking about it?
So, what happens when mainstream culture decides to dispose of a word stolen from black language and then used to the point of saturation in popular culture? Nothing. The word may lose its novelty so that those who appropriated it stop saying or using it, but the word won’t disappear or lose its utility in the black community.So, again, since you seem oddly hard of thinking for someone in your position, why are you squawking about it?!?
… with any luck, the word will settle back into its original meaning, sans the unsolicited remix of dominant white culture.So you can use it without those white folk cooties all over it, eh? How juvenile.
Actually, we’d be very happy if you ‘appropriated’ some white culture. Particularly those of us riding on the Tube or on buses in summer.