A Detroit woman is nursing injuries in an area hospital after being beaten for “appropriating” her own culture. Melanie Lerato was attending a music festival when she was attacked by a group of men and women calling themselves Kemerica, purportedly because she was wearing a Bindi.
Fellow concertgoers said during a performance by rapper Travis Scott the woman was surrounded, pushed, and ultimately punched by a male in the mob.
“They were screaming ‘you ain’t woke, you wearing a Bindi’, then she said it’s not a Bindi she’s from Malindi. They googled to see where that was, then beat on her”, says one attendee.
The group was quickly apprehended, and all four have been charged with assault.
One suspect, Sharita Palmer, was particularly defiant, screaming “We Black, don’t wear Bindis!” as she was drug into a police wagon.
Minutes before the incident was alleged to have occurred, a Twitter account registered to Palmer (called HOsun) allegedly tweeted: “I’m tired of draggin’ appropriatin’ b***hes online, I’m gonna drag one for real.”
Within hours of Palmer’s arrest, an #incarcerationforappropriation hashtag spread throughout Twitter. Many users believed Palmer did nothing wrong, and Lerato was guilty of stealing from Indian culture. It took another day for her heritage to become public knowledge, at which point the outrage ceased.
Lerato was born to a Kenyan Mother and says she wasn’t guilty of cultural appropriation, she was wearing M’zinzano, traditional Swahili face paint.
“I’ve heard people call it a Bindi, and even an African Bindi, but I wouldn’t expect these people to know the difference. They were all wearing Dashiki jerseys, and one had on Jewelry from 3 different tribes.”
African forehead adornments are frequently–and erroneously–referred to as Bindis, which are prominent in Southeast Asia. There are citizens of certain African regions who honor Desi descent with Bindis, but that fact was lost on the group that beat Lerato.
Witnesses say the group was selling “All About Africa” pamphlets and “appropriation questionnaires” before the incident took place. Tellingly, the pamphlets only contained information about Ancient Egypt. The questionaires consisted of an 81 question “test graded by a Kemetian algorithm to gauge spiritual intent.”
When questioned why the self-proclaimed Afrocentric group didn’t know about M’zinzano, suspect Darius McKay told the judge that he mistakenly attacked Lerato because he believed she was “a self-hating sister”. When asked for clarity, he went on a nonsensical tangent about ancient scrolls and elevated estrogen levels in beef.
“I regret my actions, because, my fellow melanated King, I was guilty of assuming she wasn’t a Queen. I’m remorseful and beg for forgiveness. I’m still finding my wokeness.”
Judge Romar Kelly shared no remorse during McKay’s arraignment, noting “You thought she was guilty of appropriation, but you were guilty of not doing your homework. Perhaps in jail, you will have time to read about the African cultures you desperately wish to embody.”