This is the Perfect Term for When White People Steal — Sorry, "Discover" — Cultural Trends

Cornrows.


"Belfies."


Image Credit: Liberty Voice

Twerking.


Image Credit: HuffPost Living

America.


Image Credit: U.S. Department of Transportation

These are some of the many things we have white people to thank for.

Well, kind of. While technically they didn't "discover" them in the traditional sense of the word, white folks inarguably "Columbused" every single one of these treasures.

For a primer on "Columbusing," watch this educational video from College Humor. It answers most of your questions:


"Columbusing" is the process by which Caucasians "discover" stuff they were previously unaware of "for white people." Examples might include a local bar, particular ethnic cuisine or the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of the New York City borough of Brooklyn.


Image Credit: Flickr

While the term clearly references Christopher Columbus' 1492 "discovery" of the Americas — a land mass occupied by generations of people long before he was even born — the concept has assumed new relevance in the era of gentrification. Filmmaker Spike Lee has often referred to white migration into formerly ethnic neighborhoods as the "Columbus Syndrome," an implicit critique of the sudden widespread investment in these areas the moment they show up.


The conflict this produces surrounds questions of ownership. Who has the right to these spaces? What constitutes the line between appreciation and appropriation?


Image Credit: Twitter

But the real problem arises when the originators suffer. Whether it's rock 'n' roll music or neighborhood demographics, the erasure of people of colors' contributions has long defined the American experience.

It's a loaded and important topic to discuss. Hats off to College Humor for doing so with style.

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Zak Cheney Rice

Zak is a Senior Staff Writer at Mic.

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