Everything But the Burden book

Everything But the Burden: What White People Are Taking From Black Culture

by Greg Tate Author and Various Author

A series of essays by various writers, studying the history of white people appropriating music, fashion, ideas, slang, and style from black culture, while taking little or no responsibility for engaging, crediting, and/or uplifting black people  - or even recognizing their rights as people.

"There's an old remark to the effect that if you toss a Harvard boy in a locked room with a ghetto kid for a month, well, who'll come out sounding like whom?" -Publisher's Weekly.

Here's an attempt at tackling the sociology of that transaction, as repeated perpetually throughout American culture. Some subjects include Eminem and Richard Pryor, as well as a complex blend of film and social theory. A study into a much neglected topic, especially over the last 15 years as it became increasingly common and popular, this is a worthy cultural read.

Comments & Reviews


To me there seems to be a fine line between appreciation and meaningless integration. When it comes to the topic of rap and hip-hop I think it can be appreciated by a white person. I personally enjoy rap but not because it's "trendy" or I like to be "ghetto." Rather I enjoy it because it provides an insight into another culture. Also, I've found, on average, rap contains a lot more social commentary, whether implied or explicit, then most stereotypically "non-black" genres (which raises another relevant issue, what decides if a genre is white or black, shouldn't we instead look at all music as people, regardless of race, expressing their artisticness?). Granted indie and punk music does a much better job than most other "non-black" genres, however rap still provides a much more pointed social commentary and a much more direct political critique of our society (i.e. dead prez, Flobots, and somewhat Rage Against the Machine). On the other hand, it should be noted that rich kids (of any race) dressing like they live in the ghetto is offensive, there is a burden that rests on those that society has neglected (again people of any race) and it's not right to trivialize it by imitating it with no sense of what their life is like or any kind of true understanding.


i dont agree with this book what so ever. i think this type of thinking just spreads the gap (that were trying to erase) between blacks and whites even wider.

trying to preserve racial identity sounds suspiciously like racism to me.


For some 'white kids' adopting the culture of black youth is also a way of rebelling against the norms of their own society, sort of a way of showing their shame for what their ancestors have done in a way...I guess it all depends on how you look at things.

I understand how people can take offense to it sometimes, but as dayner said, isn't it all racist in its own way at the same time?


Please--like white people don't live in the ghetto too? Get over it--white kids like hip hop. Shit, white people have been involved in the birth of hip hop and rap (no, not eminem, morons). Why do we need to scrutinize the lives, clothes, and actions of white young people just cuz they're white? Isn't that what young people of color are sick of? Oh wait, I forgot that this is just another tripe-filled book written by an 'activist' with nothing else to do.


What would you say about dreadlocks? or jazz? both are examples of something that came from black communities that got appropriated by white folks who then ended up damaging the communities from which they came and forgetting what they symbolized. The end result being white folks appropriating something that did not come from white communities with the end effect being to once again "unintentionally" contribute to the maintenance of hierarchies, and violence, stereotypes, and oppressive media representations. And it ain't just black folks, it's everybody all the time. We're taught that when you're in power you can take (and buy) without worrying on the consequences, because the TV tells us that all those concerns are overly "PC." That being concerned over something like cultural appropriation is being "too sensitive." But I'd bet that if every representation of white folks in the mainstream media was supported by several centuries of societal violence and exploitation - that these things would be taken more seriously.


Why is it people always want to be considered a "victim" or a person with a "hard life?" You've got white kids from the burbs pretending to be in gangs, and then there are idiots claiming "my great, great, great grandmother was a Cherokee princess." Why people, why? And just for clarification, there is no "princess" she was a chieftain’s daughter. And more often than not, one of many.


yeah, but you havent read the book, have you dayner? and youre white, arent you?


Saying that certain clothing styles, music types, etc. belong to one ethnic group sounds pretty god damn racist and fucked up to me.