The Unapologetic Robbing of Black Culture

There has been so many articles that have claimed to have started a new trend when in reality they literally stole it off the the bodies of black/African women and men. Black culture is literally being stolen without giving credit where credits due is due. The fact that the Mark by Mark Jacobs show displayed predominately white models wearing “twisted mini buns” and attributed to Guido Palau, is utterly ridiculous. These are Bantu Knots he not only stole this from African women but had the nerve to rename it. Jada Pickett wore this hairstyle in the Matrix and many women of African descent have worn this for thousands of years he didn’t inspire anything. Another example of cultural robbing is Katy Perry,  who was said to have started a new trend by slicking down the edges of her hair which black girls and women started in the 80’s and called it baby hairs. It’s ironic that we can attribute chopsticks worn in the hair to Asian women and Geisha styled makeup to Japanese women but suddenly catch cultural amnesia when it comes to box braids, cornrows, afros, dreads, bantu knots and baby hairs.  There was also an article that showed a white women with a curly afro which was obviously inspired by the popularlization of the natural hair movement which has inspired white business men to produce products that pertain to black women.

The sick part of this is when black women wear these hairstyles we lose are jobs or, questioned whether we are racist or pro-black, told it’s ugly, ghetto or Afro-centric. I have recently seen an old interview of Kathleen Cleaver, a former Black Panther and the interviewer asked her why did she wear her hair in an afro. Well, anyone who is black knows our hair grows out of our scalp in an upward position it does not naturally hang down and shrinks up to appear shorter so an afro is simply the result of combing our hair. The fact, that a white man had to question her for wearing her natural hair the way it is shows how we are given a double standard for being ourselves. I saw an screenshot of a black woman two days ago that said I got written up for wearing “ethnic hair”. Her hair was in a low ponytail to the back with an afro puff. The fact she didn’t straighten her hair was wrong? Black women’s hair is fragile and putting heat to it is damaging it can only be applied once a week or less often. We have to maintain straight hair with wrapping it in a dubi and applying a scarf to keep our hair from becoming frizzy as we sleep. Me, personally my hair has a hard time remaining straight for even 20 minutes humidity and a natural tendency to sweat from my scalp makes straight hair impossible to maintain  everyday. Black women have been put in a position where we feel forced to straighten our hair with chemicals that damage our hair, weaves which allow us an alternative from damaging our real hair but hides how we look, in order to keep our jobs, just to avoid questions, just to be beautiful. This is an explanation for those who say we mimic white culture we are forced to and when we don’t we are given stares asked if they can touch our hair, told it’s messy or not womanly.

If you are white woman ask yourself this how many times did you get told straight hair, was unacceptable and you must wear braids or an afro to be beautiful. For those with curly hair can you honestly say kinky hair is the same as curly which tangles and suffers from brittle ends and breakage? I read that Bo Derek, said hair is just hair. The fact that she saw this style on black women replicated it and is  glorified for it while Thandie Newton, who is biracial was not allowed in a school photo for wearing cornrows gives us insight on the prejudice of blackness even in the UK.

Even beyond hair I have literally seen white people dress up as black people. Winnie Harlow, a model with vitiligo has been the inspiration for some white girls to paint their skin brown leaving some spots white and wear all types of African braids and hair scarves to look like her. Blackness is not a costume nor is vitiligo.  How can black culture be a trend if most black people are looked down upon. Even if Winnie was not socially aware enough to see how wrong this is that doesn’t mean it’s not wrong. I have encountered countless misguided black people say it was okay for their white friends to call them the n-word but that doesn’t make it okay. The fact that blackface has been used until this current day to make blacks look ignorant, caricariture and ugly makes it uncomfortable to be recreated for any reason. And yes, black women have tried it too but black women cannot dress up as black women we are already black and come in many shades.

Apart from, this black music is being taken, dare I say. We could argue that culture has been borrowed throughout history but black music has been robbed. The originally sound of Betty Boo, you know, the famous “boop bop bee do” was created by a black woman who performed at night clubs for a long time this was later taken without permission and helped create the cartoon Betty Boo. Little Richard started singing really fast to make it difficult for white singers who took his songs word from word and sang it in a less threatening manner. They never gave credit to Little Richard and took advantage of the fact black music wasn’t played on mainstream radio and thus he would not be recognized as the source. Elvis who is famous for his hip movements stole this from a lesser known  black male performer but Elvis took it as well  as his style of music and coined it as his own. The same happened with Jerry Lee Lewis, who use to go to black night clubs and took note of black style, slang and music. Black culture has been the source of exploitation where the original source is condemned and the theif is glorified. Now days we have Miley Cyrus who twerks which this term itself is from black culture and she is seen as the orignator. Miley’s new image is heavily borrowed from Hip Hop culture her teeth grill, and chains and sticking her butt out is made more famous than the rappers and black dancers who rocked it before her. Iggy Azalea, who I feel is modern day blackface, she changes her voice to sound urban, uses slang, accentuates her butt and dates black men to solidify her status. Iggy Azalea, is from Australia when she is done performing her voice is not like that she didn’t grow up around any black people she listened to black music imitated it and excelled in the industry. Some described this as cultural smudging. Our culture is smudged until it is no more and a new story is written. So now Elvis is the best dancer, Bo-Derek invented braids and Iggy is the best rapper? Does this sound like cultural blending or robbery? African history itself has been smudged and distorted and now blacks in the diaspora have to deal with decades of robbing our culture. We sue and berate others for taking a song or book but say nothing about mocking an exploiting a culture? We left the legal exploitation of slavery to be exploited by the entertainment business. What does that say to black people?  We have notable talent and style but it will only be acceptable when it is displayed and exhibited on a white face?


7 thoughts on “The Unapologetic Robbing of Black Culture

  1. jajaja, la mismas situación ocurre acá en Colombia: hay un montón de mujeres mestizas que detestan las mujeres negras, sin embargo se operan el culo para tener culo de negra, se operan los labios para tener labios de negra,van a cursos de baile como bachata, salsa (bailes de origen africano) con el objetivo de bailar como mujeres negras.

  2. It’s true. So true, I believe one option is to ignore the societal construct, and uplift the cultural fierceness we exude naturally on our own independent terms. Freelance ourselves, gifts and talents, from the Euro-centric perception, and way of doing things and solely focus on a in house development, and the success will follow. Once Black Culture learns the beneficial practices of ‘sticking together’ like the other cultures do, there will be no need to ‘sell ourselves’ in order to survive.

      1. Thank you for the tip, and I know what one day we will return to that lifestyle, stronger than ever.

  3. That’s a weird double standard – to steal, or even borrow, from a culture because you think what they have is superior, and then at the same time, to still treat them as inferior. How does that even make sense?

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