The Best Thing of 2013

We’re here. The end of 2013 is upon us.

I know some of us are ready for it all to be behind us while others are thinking that may have been the best yet and are already missing it.

One thing I will say that I loved about this year is how wide open it was. About everything. As a culture it was all out there it seemed.

At all times.

I’m going to post some text in here from one of my favorite writers, @rembert and his take on the biggest thing of 2013.

Cultural Appropriation.


“2013 was incredible, because it played out exactly how I hoped it would. Week in and week out, I would cycle between being insulted, impressed, shocked, dumbfounded, and enlightened by either someone’s behavior or someone’s critique of said behavior. And, ultimately, I loved it. I can’t think of a messier year in my lifetime, in the sense that people were existing with an almost reckless abandon, with discussions previously too taboo to breach exploding everywhere.

The idea of cultural appropriation can mean myriad things, but the rocket fuel behind its rise in 2013 was the question of how we talk about and react to race (and other oft-polarizing issues) in mixed settings. Cultural appropriation has been occurring forever, but it has been long addressed in homogenous silos. In 2013, that changed. We all saw Miley’s transformation in 2013 and felt required to talk about it. Kanye West forced discussions of race on everyone, and in turn became the most relevant, polarizing, and discussed artist of his generation. And Macklemore’s existence alone made it seem like you had to take a stance on Macklemore’s existence — and almost always in ways that had nothing to do with his music or who he was as a person.

But what really stood out in 2013 was the extent to which it was impossible to escape the dialogue itself. It’s easy to see much of what happened in 2013 in a negative light. But if you look at the way these explosions of distress were processed by the culture, it didn’t always break down along the lines you’d expect. The year helped shine a light on two groups of people, “people who get it” versus “people who don’t.” And “get it” doesn’t just mean the people who don’t wear blackface on Halloween. It’s the people who truly understand why you shouldn’t wear blackface on Halloween. And go out of their way to express why it’s inexcusable. And actually feel emotions, like shame and embarrassment, when it takes place.

Through all the mess, that’s what stands out about cultural appropriation in 2013. The fact that, through a newfound ability to talk about things, there was a discourse redistricting. And, like it or not, it wouldn’t have happened had Miley not become the ambassador for twerking and an assortment of other things that have been labeled as “minstrelsy,” had Lorde not written lyrics for “Royals” that could have been misconstrued as racially insensitive, had the Washington Redskins not continued to remain the Washington Redskins, had Macklemore not struck gold with “Thrift Shop” and “Same Love,” had the Harlem Shake been titled something different from a dance popularized a decade earlier, and had Kanye not made songs called “New Slaves” and “Black Skinhead” and then produced apparel decorated with Confederate flags.

A ton of uncomfortable things happened in 2013. But we finally began talking about them together. Declaring cultural appropriation as the winner of 2013 signifies that, for 12 months, we all kind of lost. But I’ll take a short-term mess in exchange for long-term progress any day.

Here’s to hoping that’s exactly what 2013 was. Not the year we wanted, but the year we needed.”


Everything about this is great. And true. Finally as a society we’re getting to the point where we’re not just letting things happen.

We’re talking about it.

And for good or bad (I’m arguing the same as @rembert, its bad now, good later) we definitely needed this.

Progress never happens without pain.

Here’s to some more hurt so that we can all actually heal.

Happy New Year’s everyone.


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