Home Opinions Commentary The Double Standards of Cultural Appropriation

The Double Standards of Cultural Appropriation

The Double Standards of Cultural Appropriation
Illustration by Robert Perez

Morgan Bubman

If you’ve been anywhere near social media within the past two months, you’ve seen the circulating “cash me outside” meme. If you’ve been fortunate enough to avoid this atrocity, here’s a brief explanation of its context, content, and problematic nature. 

The “cash me outside” meme (at 3:28 in the video) originated with a thin, white, thirteen-year-old girl named Danielle Bregoli. Described as a problem child by her mother and featured on an episode of Dr. Phil, Bregoli says to Dr. Phil that the audience should “cash me outside, how bow dah” for laughing at her and her bad attitude.

The meme offers many different kinds of spelling of this absurdly confrontational proclamation, but the spelling is not the main issue here.

The big issue with this popularized meme is that it appropriates black language, culture, and creativity. By saying, “cash me outside, how bow dah,” Bregoli has come into fame through the culturally appropriated use of ebonics, which is defined as “African American vernacular English.”

Cultural appropriation, defined as “the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture,” is a large issue due to the fact that dominant social groups that hold privilege are the ones who appropriate culture from the minority social groups that they regularly oppress.

The damage of white culture “borrowing” from black culture for fashion trends is unmistakable. The white culture we live in subdues black people who practice black culture as a stereotype, yet praises white people who exploit this same black culture as being edgy or fashion-forward.

In the context of cultural appropriation, Bregoli has become famous through the use of ebonics while speaking as a white woman, whereas African Americans who use ebonics are discriminated against and seen in a negative and racist light, depicted as “ghetto” or “ratchet.” Bregoli more than likely has no knowledge of the history of ebonics nor the black culture her social media persona relies on, yet is using this culture as a funny trend to gain fame and fortune.

This meme of Danielle Bregoli is unfortunately just a larger part of an not-so-innocently racist trend among white or light skinned celebrities where black culture is trivialized and monetarily capitalized on while black people are persecuted for following these same cultural markers.

Miley Cyrus is an example of how black culture is appropriated as trendy by white celebrities. Cyrus, at one point, wore her hair in dreadlocks at an award’s show and was seen as being trendy and edgy with her stylistic choices. Zendaya, a black celebrity, also wore her hair in dreadlocks at an awards show, but was publicly criticized for looking like “she smells like … weed” by Entertainment News host Giuliana Rancic

Kylie Jenner is another major celebrity who heavily profits from the exploitation of black creativity and culture. Jenner regularly wears her hair in cornrows and in other ways that exploit black culture as being a fashion trend, in addition to enhancing her lips to look larger. Black people constantly face racist slurs for the appearance of their lips, while Jenner’s lip jobs have led to her receiving monumental profits and praise in the makeup industry.

With the constant circulation of cultural exploitation in memes featuring Bregoli, Cyrus, Jenner, and countless others, it’s easy to assume that meme culture is nothing more than a harmful perpetuation of stereotypes taken on by the dominant white culture. However, memes can be particularly useful as a form of resistance.

Memes have the power to point out racist double standards towards celebrities adopting black culture as “trendy.” One meme critiquing appropriation surfaced depicting a Cyrus paper dress-up doll, entitled “Cultural Appropriation Edition,” featuring a “bonus” black woman as her accessory. By using meme culture to demonstrate racial double standards, subtle racism is made more obvious.

If you have participated in the circulation of the “cash me outside” meme without realizing the harmful messages it perpetuates and want to correct this mistake, the best way is by spreading education and tolerance. Educating yourself and others about social injustice is the best way to stop the spreading of cultural appropriation and exploitation of black culture.


  1. How about you stop the cultural appropriation of my ethnic group’s language – English? No? You SJW’s just have no sense of your own insanity and hypocrisy, do you? Truth be told, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

    • Are you saying black people “stole” English? If that is the case, you are extremely incorrect. Africans were kidnapped and forced onto a boat to America. Once they got there and forced into slavery, they were then threatened by white men with guns if they did not respond to them in English instead of their native tongue. White people are the ignorant ones who believed that everyone should speak English because they could not understand anything else.

    • I think anti-cultural appropriation rhetoric does start to cross the line into absurdity but your statement is even more absurd. What you just referred to as appropriation is actually assimilation. And you are just ignoring the fact that if blacks born in America are using English as their language, it is because it is native to them, and that’s not even close to being cultural appropriation.

    • “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?” Ever heard of blackface, dude?

      I believe emulation is the sincerest form
      If flattery, way different than imitation.

  2. Stupid article. Another person trying to find victimhood where there is none. The girl was just stupid and talked liked that no one is being exploited here.

  3. As a black person I do not consider talking like this a part of my culture. It’s an issue pertaining to low-income and uneducated people. This is saying that the Redneck language is the culture of white people.

    Also everyone thinks it is ignorant to talk like that. No one is laughing with the girl, everyone is laughing at her. Stop making us the victim in everything.

  4. What about when black people take part in activities standardized as “white” activities? I have absolutely no issue with anyone taking part in activities that are considered some other culture’s activities/practices.
    Take Misty Copeland for example. Ballet is known to be a very “white” type of dance. It is a white stereotype. Misty is praised for the sole purpose of breaking black stereotype, and adored by so many people around the world just because she has the same ability as a lot of other professional ballet dancers of various races.
    When Miley Cyrus started twerking, she did get praised yes, but she also got huge criticism. People were furious that she was exploiting or abusing a “black” type of dance.
    This is unreasonable since Misty was praised for doing the same type of thing. Breaking stereotype. A lot of the black population may think that white people have a huge advantage over them, and for quite a few reasons that statement is true, but it is also false for a lot of reasons.
    White people cannot talk in a specific accent without being criticized. Danielle is called ridiculous and ignorant for talking in this so called “black” accent, which yes she is ignorant to her parents and does not respect people in general, but she is criticized for her “black” accent. I do not believe that this specific accent is only a trait of black people. I know plenty of black people who do not speak in this manner at all.
    I honestly think that cultural appropriation is a selfish claim, and an irrelevant term to use. Nobody just “steals” a cultural practice with the intent of offending someone that is from that culture. Cultural diversity is a great thing, but when you do not want to share and educate about your culture, it is just being selfish and is on you, not the person who supposedly “stole” it. There is no law that says a certain practice is illegal unless you come from a specific race, so you should not claim that it is wrong when we are merely exploring each other’s cultures.

    • The difference is you’re the dominant culture. White is the dominant culture. You don’t get shitted on for doing ballet. We get shitted on for speaking how Danielle spoke. Danielle certainly didn’t get shitted on. You know what she got? A television show. Also no one tries to bar you from doing what we do but in ballet, there have been SYSTEMIC efforts to keep blacks out of ballet and its for reasons that are supposed to have to do with the genetic deficiencies of an ENTIRE RACE. Don’t try to play the reverse racism card because you just sound STUPID. Just sit down, be privileged and be a fucking ally. Otherwise shut the FUCK up.

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