11/05/2014 06:30 pm ET Updated Feb 01, 2016

All Appropriation Everything: IHOP Joins List of Cultural-Appropriation Offenders


Over the last few months, corporations have found a new way to gain attention on Twitter: tweeting rap lyrics and other allusions to hip-hop culture. The culprit that has most popularly surfaced across Twitter timelines is IHOP, which tweets edited versions of lyrics from songs by artists such as Drake, Trinidad James, and Bobby Shmurda.

While most Twitter users replied with amusement, some appear to be irritated and disturbed by IHOP using hip-hop lyrics to promote itself on Twitter. Some users go further, calling it cultural appropriation.

Denny's and Taco Bell have also participated in this odd trend of rap-themed tweets. While many people certainly see the tweets as problematic, the amount of responses merely laughing along or even finishing lyrics far outweighs the complaints and accusations of crossing the line into tastelessness.

However, the black community is highly perceptive to cultural appropriation, because we have a rather long and complicated history with it. One highly notable instance in music history is the theft of rock-'n'-roll music, epitomized by Elvis Presley's rise to superstardom on the backs of black artists such as Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry.

A timelier example of cultural appropriation in music is white Australian rapper Iggy Azalea, who, after gaining popularity in American hip-hop, has generated ongoing debate over her authenticity as an agent of hip-hop culture.

It does not stop.

Nearly every day there are new offenses, such as when The New York Times "discovered that butts are a thing," as The Huffington Post put it after the Times ran a piece about the cool new phenomenon of white women suddenly wanting to acquire rounder backsides, failing to realize that women of color have been embracing our curves for decades. Or when Marie Claire suddenly discovered the trend of cornrows when Kylie Jenner posted a picture of herself on Instagram wearing the "epic" hairstyle.

Too often elements of black culture become "cool" by mainstream standards and get twisted into trendy, whitewashed versions of themselves that are totally removed from their origins in black culture. When you belong to a demographic that has seen its history of forced enslavement erased from textbooks of American history, yet you are required to take American history in school while African-American history is relegated to an elective, each offense of cultural appropriation is infuriating, even if it is random rap lyrics being tweeted by corporations.