Photo Credit(s): NBC News
Cultural appropriation has recently become the topic of discussion amongst the proud brown people in the millennial community. About three months ago, Instagram beef arose between actress Amandla Stenberg and the youngest Kardashian, Kylie Jenner when Jenner posted a picture of herself with long, straight back cornrows.
After a snappy IG altercation amongst the teenage stars, Amandla made it known that she feels as though Kylie is a cultural appropriator and hands down over stepping her boundaries after leaving a comment on the photograph that reads,
“When you appropriate black features and culture but fail to use your position of power to help black Americans by directing attention towards your wigs instead of police brutality or racism #whitegirlsdoitbetter.”
Being a brown girl, I couldn’t agree more with Stenberg on her views. And I completely support and stand by her reason for doing what she did. There have been too many examples of propaganda and entertainment content that takes cultural staples without remorse and twists them to be seen as a new discovery. We’ll just call it the “Christopher Columbus Syndrome.” We have continuously watched ethnic hair styles, clothing and even cultural language be stripped from its origins and altered to fit a more American demeanor.
Last month, Valentino showcased his spring 2016 runway show featuring mostly white models sporting cornrows for a show which was apparently “inspired by Africa.” People were outraged, and although this was another foot-in-the-mouth moment for non-black culture, there are currently endless issues that are constantly unraveling in the appropriation world.
At this point you all must know who Rachel Dolezal is and why she is so controversial, but incase you are out of the loop here’s a brief explanation of her becomings. Rachel Dolezal is a white-American woman who identifies as “black” and claims to be “trans-racial.” Yes, trans-racial is a new term that apparently means to cross racial boundaries. Rachel Dolezal has become the staple child for this new movement where people can evidently choose their race. Here’s the thing, I completely understand that race is a social construct and I would openly accept anyone of any given race into the black community. However, there is a fine line between appreciating black culture and impersonating it. My skin, physical features, heritage and ethnic background were neither chosen by me, nor were they suggested by me. I was born from it by my ancestors. After watching one of Dolezal’s most recent interviews with The Real, I cringed at her responses and attitude towards her choice to identify as black. Not only did she dodge some crucial questions about what box she checks when asked her race, she also claimed that when she gets parking tickets cops think she’s black.
Poor Rachel, the worst experience you had with a cop was a parking ticket.
I do believe that there are multitudes of people who identify with a race that is not their own, and that isn’t an issue for me. Sometimes people grow up in communities or attend schools that are populated with a certain race. The issue is that Rachel has countlessly denied and/or avoided the allegations of her being white. When she was elected as the president of her local NAACP, the board and many other people in her community were under the impression that she was indeed a fair skinned black woman. She didn’t come clean until her parents outted her. My question for Dolezal is, “what is your motive?” Because if it is to empower and uplift people of color while advocating for the black community, you don’t need a black face to do so.