Professor equates white people having afros and dreadlocks to 'white supremacy'

Arizona State University Professor Neal Lester argued that cultural appropriation relates to white supremacy.

Lester called white people donning afros and dreadlocks a 'performance'

Arizona State University Professor Neal Lester argued that cultural appropriation relates to white supremacy during Sept. 30’s Dr. Phil episode “Appropriation Nation: Has it Gone Too Far?.”

“I put [cultural appropriation] on the same level of white supremacy, because white supremacy intersectional,” he stated. “When we’re putting on someone else’s culture, that is somebody else’s identity.”

Lester also referred to white people having afros and dreadlocks as a “performance.”

“You do that because it’s edgy, it’s cool, but ultimately because it’s not you,” he continued, “and you’re getting some type of cultural capital from that.”

He acknowledged that while the act may not hurt anyone, it could be a sign of disrespect. He alleged that anyone could engage in cultural appropriation regardless of age, sex, race, or incarceration status. 

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Amala Ekpunobi, a PragerU personality, refuted Lester’s claims by arguing that “imitation is a form of flattery.”

“I appreciate my food by eating it. I appreciate the hair that I wear by wearing it, by putting on the clothes that I wear,” she said. “And every single item around us in this room could probably be attributed to a certain culture. Do we have to constantly worry about what culture we gain things from?”

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Lester, an English professor, is an expert in African American Studies and Cultural Studies, his university website states. He taught a 2008 course titled “The N-Word: Lessons Taught and Lessons Learned.”

In 2013, Lester published an article titled “‘Redskins,’ Names and Being Named,” which discussed the controversy over the former name of the Washington D.C football team.

Campus Reform contacted Lester, ASU, Dr. Phil, and Ekpunobi for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.