NOW What episode 12: Lilly Singh’s cultural appropriation just gets louder

The late-night host covered the Jamaican dancehall track Badman Forward, reigniting a controversy over her appropriation of Black and Afro-Caribbean culture

The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted reality as we know it, with entire nations going into isolation in an attempt to flatten the curve of infection and reduce the impact on our health-care systems. It’s the right thing to do, but we’re all feeling a little cut off at from one another at the moment.

Here at NOW, we’re in the same situation – scattered around the city, working from home and still trying our best to make some connections with each other and our readers. And that’s where our new podcast comes in: NOW What, hosted by senior film writer Norm Wilner, is here to explore the ways in which Torontonians are coping with life in the time of coronavirus. 

Last week, Scarborough’s own Lilly Singh released a video where she remixed a popular Jamaican dancehall track, singing in patois and re-igniting a controversy over whether her occasional appropriations of Black and Afro-Caribbean culture are loving, self-serving or just how the world works nowadays. In the past, it’s blown over in a day or two, but this time around it seems to have hung on – maybe because we’re all locked inside with the internet, or maybe because popular culture is evolving enough to have a measured, morally conscious conversation about this stuff.

In today’s episode, NOW culture writer Rad Simonpillai assembles a panel of experts – NOW contributor Rachna Raj Kaur, freelance writer Sharine Taylor and TV production coordinator Stephanie Hinds – to have that conversation, and think about why Singh does what she does, and who it’s for. 

New episodes of NOW What will be released every Tuesday and Friday. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, listen on Spotify or just play it below. And remember, we’re all in this together.


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