Tuesday Reads: Cultural Appropriation Edition

Good Morning!!

First, a quick follow-up: I’ve been writing about the delay of stimulus payments to 30 million seniors, disabled people, veterans, railroad pensioners. Last Thursday, the Social Security Administration finally sent information to enable the IRS to send out the direct deposits/checks, but there’s still no information available on when these vulnerable Americans will receive the much needed assistance.

Newsweek tried to get some answers, but hit a brick wall: SSI Stimulus Check Update as IRS Stays Silent Over Payments For Social Security Recipients.

Many recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and other federal benefits are still waiting to receive their stimulus fund. The Internal Revenue Service has yet to announce a payment date, as of Tuesday….

On March 25, the SSA provided the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) with the paperwork needed for stimulus payments to be issued to federal benefit recipients following pressure from the House Ways and Means Committee. The IRS has yet to respond to Newsweek‘s requests for a comment since the SSA sent the required paperwork.

The SSA website also currently states that “the IRS decided to pay EIPs [Economic Impact Payments] first only to people who filed a 2020 or 2019 tax return, and to people who used the IRS’ Non-Filer Tool to receive a previous EIP. Some Social Security beneficiaries may have received a recent EIP if they filed a tax return with the IRS.”

People who were too poor to file a tax return have been left twisting in the wind. They are advised to use the “check my payment” link at the IRS, but when they do, they are told there is no information available.

Asked whether it had received any information on a stimulus payment date for federal benefit recipients, a spokesperson for NACHA (National Automated Clearing House Association), which manages the ACH Network, the national automated clearing house for electronic funds transfers, told Newsweek this Monday: “We haven’t gotten anything.”

Newsweek has contacted the IRS, the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Bureau of the Fiscal Service for comment.

The SSA website currently advises: “Please refer to the IRS’ website for the latest information about economic impact payments (EIP). Please do not contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) with questions about EIPs. Our representatives do not have information to answer your EIP questions. The IRS, not SSA, processes all EIPs.”

A spokesperson for the SSA told Newsweek on March 26: “As you may already know, many Social Security beneficiaries have already received their EIPs. The final files we sent to IRS yesterday morning [Thursday] will address those recipients who don’t normally file a tax return with the IRS.”

Now for my main topic: Cultural Appropriation

Wikipedia: Cultural appropriation is the adoption of an element or elements of one culture or identity by members of another culture or identity. This can be controversial when members of a dominant culture appropriate from disadvantaged minority cultures.

I seldom watch late night entertainment programs, but yesterday there was a strong reaction to a Tonight Show segment. A white TikTok “influencer,” Addison Rae, appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel show to perform several dance routines. The problem is that she copied them from Black women on TicToc and failed to credit them or the Black artists who performed the songs she danced to.

From the LA Times story: Addison Rae taught Jimmy Fallon TikTok dances, but Twitter remembers who created them.

Many of TikTok’s viral dance challenges were started by Black creators, but you wouldn’t know that by watching Friday’s episode of “The Tonight Show,” which saw one of the app’s biggest stars, Addison Rae, perform several dances without crediting their choreographers.

What was intended as a fun moment between Rae and host Jimmy Fallon — who are both white — backfired over the weekend as Twitter users demanded recognition for the people whose choreography was featured on the show.

“Stealing from black entertainers and having white ‘creators’ regurgitate it to the masses is american history 101,” one person tweeted after Fallon shared a clip of Rae busting a move to eight different songs.

“I think Black creators should just stop creating content for like a good 6 months and just observe what these people come up with,” wrote another in a tweet that had amassed more than 261,000 likes….

Included in the TikTok dance compilation were:

  • “Do It Again” (recorded by Pia Mia, choreographed by @noahschnapp)
  • “Savage Love” (recorded and choreographed by @jasonderulo)
  • “Corvette Corvette” (recorded by Popp Hunna, choreographed by @yvnggprince)
  • “Laffy Taffy” (recorded by D4L, choreographed by @flyboyfu)
  • “Savage” (recorded by Megan Thee Stallion, choreographed by @keke.janjah)
  • “Blinding Lights” (recorded by the Weeknd, choreographed by @macdaddyz)
  • “Up” (recorded by Cardi B, choreographed by @theemyanicole)
  • “Fergalicious” (recorded by Fergie and will.i.am, choreographed by @thegilberttwins).

(The choreographers’ names have been shared by Twitter users and confirmed by Buzzfeed.)

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of Rae’s performance to Cardi B’s “Up” along with the original performance by TheMayaNicole. See what you think.

More from Popsugar: The Tonight Show’s Addison Rae Fumble Is an Unfortunate Reflection of Our Creator Culture.

If you want to see a TikTok dance skit, why not ask the original artists to participate? That’s a question The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Addison Rae face after March 26th’s episode. The well-known creator walked Fallon through a few of the app’s most popular choreography in a sketch, similar to a video released with Charli D’Amelio last year. Quickly after airing, the clip faced criticism as viewers wondered why the creatives who actually created the dances didn’t get screen time — or at the very least, proper credit.

This controversy is not new for Rae, who faced similar pushback after she and D’Amelio became the face of a “Renegade” dance routine, which was originally created by Jalaiah Harmon. Intentional or not, Rae and D’Amelio’s names were synonymous with choreography they had no hand in. They went as far as to perform the dance at a 2020 NBA All Star game without Harmon. Harmon eventually got her dues, but only after publicly reclaiming the viral dance. Rae and D’Amelo need only whisper and their combined 100+ million followers would come running, so why did Harmon practically need a megaphone to get her credit? Her experience is a disappointing reflection of how art is co-opted on social media, especially from Black creatives.

You can’t separate Rae’s success from the work of Black TikTokers. Some of her most viewed videos are built on their choreography, like the “Savage” routine originated by Keara Wilson. (Wilson told POPSUGAR she doesn’t wish any backlash against Rae because she knows “how toxic the internet can be.” She said, “Yes of course it’s always nice to be credited but just having my dance on the show is an honor in itself.”)

As Twitter user @blackamazon wrote, “This is why I bang on EVERYBODY about the economics and race of social media. ‘Tik tok dances’ the names of the artists not there. The actual choreographers not there. She’s on national television but where are the Black kids who actually made these.” Another user, @868nathan, wrote, “The fact that Addison Rae is championed for ‘Tik Tok Dances’ whilst the black creatives that made them never get the same platform will never sit right with me.”

This reminds me of the days when white recording artists like Pat Boone released pathetic cover versions of songs by Black musicians like Little Richard. The good news in those days was that people who heard the covers sought out the originals and eventually the Black artists became well known and successful. The same thing happened again in the 1960s with British and American bands who covered performances by Black blues musicians.

Futurity (Feb. 3, 2017): How the 1950s Made Pat Boone a Rock Star.

While some early rock ‘n’ roll acts receive little critical respect, historically speaking, these same musicians and singers played an important role in bridging musical styles and bringing cultures together, writes Aquila, professor emeritus of history and American studies at Penn State, in his book, Let’s Rock! How 1950s America Created Elvis and the Rock & Roll Craze (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017).

“I spend a lot of time discussing Pat Boone and other pop rockers in the book. Boone refers to himself not as the father of rock ‘n’ roll, but as the midwife of rock ‘n’ roll,” says Aquila.

“What he means by this is that his versions of Little Richard’s songs may not be as good as Little Richard’s originals, but Little Richard couldn’t get played on mainstream radio stations back in the ’50s, due to racism and other reasons. But, after the kids listened to Boone’s music, they tended to go on and want the real thing.”

Boone spent most of his early career covering rhythm-and-blues songs, like Richard’s “Tutti Frutti.” Boone’s versions, however, were influenced by pop styles and standards that were tamer and more familiar to white audiences of the time. He also sanitized Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame,” for his white audience’s ears and, apparently, their grammar. He tried, for instance, to change the title of the song to “Isn’t That a Shame.”

While many music critics now consider this artistic theft or cultural appropriation, Aquila says that some black artists at the time appreciated Boone’s cover songs.

At a concert, for example, Aquila writes that Domino introduced Boone to the audience and, pointing to one of his diamond rings, added that Boone’s version of “Ain’t That a Shame” bought him that ring.

It’s still pathetic that our white-dominated culture made this happen and even more pathetic that it is still happening on social media platforms like TikTok and mainstream TV programs.

Some politics news, links only

Buzzfeed: US Cases Of COVID-19 Are Rising Again, Sparking Fears Of A Fourth Major Surge.

Josh Rogin at The Washington Post: Opinion: The WHO covid report is fatally flawed, and a real investigation has yet to take place.

Aaron Rupar at Vox: Birx rightly said most US Covid-19 deaths were preventable. But she won’t acknowledge her complicity.

Michael Gerson at The Washington Post: Opinion: The GOP is facing a sickness deeper than the coronavirus.

Raw Story: Trump lashes out at Fauci and Birx in bizarre press release issued from Mar-a-Lago.

The Washington Post: New accounts detail how New York health officials were told to prioritize coronavirus testing of people connected to Andrew Cuomo.

The Guardian: Asian American woman, 65, attacked in New York as witnesses stood by.

The Guardian: Sherry Vill is latest to accuse Andrew Cuomo of sexual misconduct.

That’s it for me today. What’s on your mind?


Tuesday Reads: The Insane Campaign

Good Morning!!

Can this presidential campaign get any more ridiculous? I’m guessing it will. I know I’ve written this multiple times, but every morning I feel shocked all over again. On the days when I have to write a post, it’s even worse. I just can’t believe what is going on in the corporate media! As Donald Trump’s behavior gets more and more out-of-control insane, so-called “journalists” search for ways to make Hillary Clinton look equally horrible. It’s not working for them, and that has to be sooo frustrating.

Last night Hillary appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel show and joked around about the conspiracy theories that Trump and his supporters are pushing about her health. The Washington Post reports:

It was a funny premise: Hillary Clinton would pick Donald Trump quotes out of a jar and try to read them with a straight face.

But when it came time for the last quote, she said she couldn’t even read it. She handed it to Jimmy Kimmel.

Kimmel read it: “‘I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.'” (Trump actually said this in 2006.) …..

“I do feel sometimes like this campaign has entered into an alternative universe,” she said. “I have to step into the alternative reality and, you know, answer questions about, am I alive, how much longer will I be alive, and the like.”

I know that feeling. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be the person who is dealing with all this right-wing craziness.

At NBC, First Read summarizes Trump’s efforts to get the media to make the campaign a referendum on Hillary Clinton and not on him. But could he ever really stand to have the attention on someone other than himself?

It’s time for a special prosecutor to look in the Clinton Foundation! Hillary Clinton has a health problem! Clinton and the Democrats are bad for minority voters! “Welcome to the Bannon campaign,” the New York Times’ Alex Burns observed, referring to new Trump campaign chief Steve Bannon of Breitbart News. Indeed, the Trump camp has been under new management for an entire week, and you see how it’s doing everything it can to turn this race from a referendum on Donald Trump — which it has been for months now — into a referendum on Hillary Clinton. Of course, there’s a legitimate question as to whether this will all work. After all, there’s no way the Obama administration will appoint a special prosecutor with 77 days before the election. And the allegations about Clinton’s health are unfounded — in fact, Clinton’s letter from Dr. Jeffrey Epstein is much more thorough than Trump’s four-paragraph letter (which begins “To Whom My Concern”). But you see what the Trump campaign is trying to do: Down in the polls, it’s trying to change the subject back to Clinton.

As for the Clinton Foundation, here’s what Trump said about it campaigning last night in Akron, OH: “Her foundation took in large payments from major corporations and wealthy individuals, foreign and domestic, and all the while she was Secretary of State. The Clinton Foundation accepted as much as $60 million from Middle Eastern countries that oppress women, gays and people of different faiths.” More Trump: “The amounts involved, the favors done and the significant numbers of times it was done require an expedited investigation by a special prosecutor immediately, immediately, immediately.”

And he continued his pretend pitch to minority voters, delivered to a lily-white audience in Akron, Ohio:

Over the past week, Donald Trump has been making a pitch to minority voters. And it’s easy to see how it’s likely to fall on deaf ears, especially since he’s been making it in front of nearly all-white crowds. “Crime at levels that nobody has seen, you can go to war zones in countries that we’re fighting, and it’s safer than living in some of our inner cities. They’re run by the Democrats,” Trump said in Akron, OH last night. “And I ask you this, I ask you this, crime, all of the problems, to the African Americans, who I employ so many, so many people, to the Hispanics, tremendous people — what the hell do you have to lose? Give me a chance. I’ll straighten it out, I’ll straighten it out. What do you have to lose?”

First read left out a scary ad lib by Trump last night.

“Walk down the street and you get shot.” Wow.

Corey Lewandowski, the CNN “commentator” who is also being paid by the Trump campaign, explained why Trump “reaches out” to African Americans while speaking to all-white audiences. T-Bogg at Raw Story: Trump avoids speaking to black voters because he’s not safe in their communities.

Lewandowski was part of a panel Monday night hosted by Anderson Cooper when he was asked why Trump doesn’t appeal to black voter by actually meeting with them instead of talking about them in front of predominately white audiences.

“You know what’s amazing to me is that no one remembers Donald Trump went to go have a rally in Chicago at the university. And remember what happened?” Lewandowski  began. “It was so chaotic and it was so out-of-control that the Secret Service and the Chicago Police Department told him you cannot get in and out of the facility safely. And that rally was cancelled.”

Several panelists jumped in with the same question: “What does that have to do with communicating with the black community?”

“Look!” Lewandowski shot back. “That is a black community. He went to the heart of Chicago to give a speech to the University of Chicago in a campus that is predominately African-American to make that argument. And you know what happened? The campus was overrun and it was not a safe environment.”

Panelist Angela Rye replied, “Would you acknowledge that not all black communities all over the country are still not monolithic. So if he tried the same thing in Cleveland–”

Lewandowski immediately cut her off, saying “He tried to go to Chicago and wasn’t allowed to make the speech–” as Rye shot back, “What about Dallas? What about Los Angeles?”

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Here’s Jill Lawrence at USA Today on whether any of us should “take a chance” on Donald Trump: Change is not your friend this year.

What do you have to lose? Donald Trump keeps asking African Americans. But really that’s his question to all of us. The core premise of his campaign is that our country is so weak, and our leaders are such losers, that we should put all our money on Trump the wild card, the savior. The restoration to greatness is at hand, but only if we choose him.

Trump made that explicit the other day by christening himself “Mr. Brexit.” He’s the candidate of disruptive change, exciting and unsettling and the ride of your life. What we can expect the day after Hurricane Trump makes landfall at the White House? Hey, don’t harsh the euphoria.

Here’s the thing, though. Trump may be asking “what do you have to lose?” as a rhetorical question, but there’s an answer to it, and that answer is “an enormous amount.”

I’m not even talking about the temperament issues that unnerve so many in both parties as they contemplate a President Trump in charge of nuclear codes, the military and relationships across the globe. Let’s look purely at economics and other indicators of national health.

The stock market continues to set new records during President Obama’s tenure, andonly George H.W. Bush presided over a bull market for more of his time in office. The jobs report for July, released on Aug. 5, was so positive that conservative economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin called it impressive, “strong across the board,” and “the first month in recent memory that doesn’t have some significant downside.” Republican leaders were silent rather than issuing their usual negative responses….

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of overseas contract jobs for veterans available. But not all of these jobs are for “private security contractors,” you know, the scary looking guys with even scarier looking weapons. While “private security contractors” are the ones that seem to make all the headlines, there are many other overseas contract jobs available.

…black Americans, like all Americans, would stand to lose plenty under President Trump. They’d have to put up with his inaccurate stereotyping of African Americans and hostility to the Black Lives Matter movement. From a pocketbook standpoint, his protectionist views could trigger trade wars and higher consumer prices. And he’d revive trickle-down economics, a major contrast to Obama policies that have directed resources to low-income rather than high-income Americans.

Do we really want to trade what gains we’ve made for a guy whose new tax plan is a boon for wealthy Americans, the national debt and lenders like China? As acerbic liberal Jason Sattler (aka @LOLGOP) put it on Twitter, “Trump is offering ‘change’ the way a high-impact collision with a tree offers your car ‘customizing.’ ”

I’ve been reading David Cay Johnston’s new book, The Making of Donald Trump. Whatever horrors you read in the media are just the tip of the iceberg. I can’t believe the dishonesty of this man. Sometimes I have to take breaks from reading just to recover a sense of normalcy. I can’t even imagine what would happen to the global economy if he somehow became POTUS.

Just check out this new story at Huffington Post: Donald Trump Jacked Up His Campaign’s Trump Tower Rent Once Someone Else Was Paying For It. HuffPo doesn’t allow cutting and pasting anymore, so I can’t excerpt from the article; but here are the basics. Trump “quintupled” the rent on his Trump Tower headquarters to $169, 758 beginning last month. Read much more about the Trump campaign’s spending at the link above.

Melania Trump has also run into some dishonesty issues. Raw Story: REVEALED: Melania Trump outright lied under oath about having a college degree.

Melania Trump’s website was yanked offline in July when discrepancies surfaced about her claim that she graduated with a degree in architecture from the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. She, in fact, did not graduate, rather she only attended classes before moving on to a modeling career and coming to the United States under possibly illegal visas.

Now it seems, new evidence shows that Trump may have lied about her degree under oath, which would make her guilty of perjury.

The case involved a now-defunct caviar skincare line, which Racked.com recalls Melania Trump promoted on “Good Morning America,” her husband’s show “The Apprentice” and on CNBC, but ultimately never made it to the market. The contract Trump had with a cosmetic company called New Sunshine LLC imploded when friend Steve Hilbert was fired from the company by another Trump friend, John Menard.

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The case ended up in court, where Melania was required to testify.

“Where were you born, Mrs. Trump?” the attorney asked.

“I was born in Slovenia,” she answered.

“Would you please explain to the Judge your formal education including what schools you attended and from which you graduated?” the attorney requested.

“I attended and graduated from design school, from fashion and Industrial Design School and also attended, graduated from architecture degree, bachelor degree,” she testified under oath.

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As was revealed in July after Trump’s plagiarism scandal, that isn’t an accurate account of Trump’s educational background. She does not have an architecture degree, nor did she graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

That’s all I have for you today. What new horrors will Tuesday bring? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.