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Charlie Wilson

Pitts: In defense of cultural appropriation

Pitts: In defense of cultural appropriation

I'm here to defend cultural appropriation.

"Cross-cultural influence," would be the less pejorative phrase. But the term above, with its connotations of grand-theft culture, is the one favored by some African-American activists who've had it up to here with nonblack performers borrowing the soul and style of Michael, Marvin and Prince. Singer Bruno Mars is the latest to feel their ire.

Mr. Mars, son of a Filipina mom and a Puerto Rican/Ashkenazi Jewish dad, has been ubiquitous in recent years with a high-octane style fueled by hip-hop, funk and other African-American idioms. A few days ago, he was the object of a heated debate on The Grapevine, an internet series...