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Cultural appropriation is wrong
of this is the infancy of rock-and-roll, where white musicians stole rhythm and blues music, copied it, and made millions of dollars while the black artists that invented the music went without the same recognition for years.
When white artists covered songs by Black artists, they often sanitized the lyrics, making them less racy for the sake of their white audience.
This is an example of how it could happen and not necessarily how it will happen.
White musicians avoiding doing this wouldn't necessarily have given black musicians more of an opportunity.
Plagiarism is wrong, regardless of whether it's across cultures or not. Since plagiarism is always wrong, this instance of cultural exchange was wrong. As such, it should not be used as an example of why cultural appropriation is wrong.
Jazz was born out of a form of musical syncretism where marching band music featured prominently. By the same token, then, jazz was
copied and stolen
from Sousa and his ilk, and Buddy Bolden & co. should be chastised for doing it.
The net result though, is that we have rock-n-roll and before that jazz and before that blues and they've become part of our identity. Those are good things. When you take away an artist's ability to share how they engage with life; we all lose.