Earlier this week, the Labour MP Dawn Butler ‘called out’ Jamie Oliver for ‘appropriation’. His sin, according to the shadow minister for women and equalities, was to launch a product called Punchy Jerk Rice. ‘I’m just wondering do you know what #Jamaican #jerk actually is?’ she asked him on Twitter. ‘It’s not just a word you put before stuff to sell products… Your jerk rice is not OK. This appropriation from Jamaica needs to stop.
The notion that it is problematic for white people to ‘appropriate’ the culture of other ethnic groups has become widespread on the left. Three years ago, Erika Christakis, a Yale lecturer, sparked protests after she questioned official university guidance telling white students not to wear ‘culturally insensitive’ Halloween costumes, such as feathered headdresses. Student activists were so enraged by her description of American universities as places of ‘censure and prohibition’ — and her outrageous suggestion that there was nothing inherently racist about blond toddlers dressing up as African-American Disney characters — that she was forced to resign. (To read more, click here.)