Tamron Hall did a segment today on beauty and a woman's nails
were referred to as being "on fleek." As soon as I heard the term, I
knew it was a new slang word or phrase created by black folk that had crept
into the mainstream.
Why does this bother me? Because I know that these terms are intellectual property
Intellectual property (IP) is a legal term that refers to creations of the
mind. Examples of intellectual
property include music, literature, and other artistic works;
discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs.
Like, diss, playa, twerk,
hater and ratchet, I knew this on fleek was yet another cultural term that
has been appropriated and will soon be used by corny politicians,
pandering to the youth vote.
The comedian Bill Bellamy coined the term Booty Call, then
someone made a movie using the title and then everyone in the world started
saying it and doing it and he doesn’t get a royalty.
Black folks created jazz, blues, rock and roll, soul disco and
rap and we watched as each of these genres were taken, mainstreamed, blanded
out and killed. And now we have a generation of kids who think glorified
backup singers are actually good.
Black folk, my people, are the kings of intellectual property but while IP in
the digital age has value, much of our cultural IP is worthless-- until it is
appropriated by others who see its value.
We can stop this. All we have to do is be smart. Before you
tweet or vine something clever, copyright it first and then when they steal it, you get paid. Or better yet, if we can stop
discounting ourselves just because we live in a country that seems to place a
small value on our lives, we can all get paid. By the way, this whole blog is totally on fleek.