Exploring Cultural Appropriation By Emily Imani Rose Quartz Yamineta
Peace Beautiful People, this has been hot topic with Marc Jacobs recently introducing his white models in a traditional African hairstyle called Bantu Knots.
For many it was an awkward moment when he gave the style a new name and failed to refer to his style source..the deep regions of Black Africa.
We were already used to white people wearing African braid styles and locks. In the 1980's the white model, Bo Dereck, gained fame with a photo shoot rocking a sexy a headfull of individual braids and beads. Since that time "hip" white people ( hipster is their word, not mine) have been showing their openness to ethnic styles with dreadlocks and cornrows. Black Hairstylists have frequently charged white women up to three times a normal price to deal with braiding their hair. White hair is different and it is actually not the best for the African styles that work so well for springy, dense, soft, tight, spiralling curls. Quite a few Black stylists simply state they dont have time or the "energy" to do African styles on white hair. I know this topic may instantly offend some and can lead to the ongoing debate:
Is it cultural appropriation or appreciation? Is it wrong to even care..after all hairstyles do not really belong to any one group ? Or do they ?
I recently attended an open mic and was quite suprised at the young white guys with "hipster" beards, dressed in co-opted styles performing thier best attempts at hip hop. What really struck me was the schizoid adaptation of cliched mannerisms and movement.
One thought that came to mind was.... " Is it art..when Art imitates Art ?" and are they really being genuine people ? For lack of any other clarity they appeared to be faking a cultural background. Acting out a fantasy yet they were transparently sincere in their belief that they were clever artists. Or so it seemed.
The whole event left me with a odd feeling. What happened to realness? Are these white boys ( mentally)Okay ? Some say imitation is the finest form of flattery. Yet I didn't feel flattered. In truth real Black Men are often victims of police brutality, discrimination, gang violence and every built in form of systematic racism known. Being a real Black Man in todays society is not an act or set of mannerisms. I would also like to know what these white boys were failing to offer. By offering a pre-digested image of Black Bravado they failed to share an authentic self or artform. Perhaps if racism was not such a deadly issue today it would have been easier to see these nice white boys who love hip hop in a better light. I agree this is a touchy subject bound to offend some.
Many people just want to move forward and enjoy all the fruits of cultures from around the world. Some say to call others culture vultures is mean spirited. After all it is a free world. Art is open to interpetation and I whole heartedly agree.
All to often Africa's contributions have become "stolen legacies". Please take a deep moment to consider the feelings of those who struggle against racism everyday. For us a hairstyle may speak in whispers of ancestoral wisdom and the comfort of having an older female hold us safely between her legs as she perfectly parted our hair and prepared us to feel soo pretty..for us rap and hip hop may be the only talking drum we KNOW that follows our heartbeat, pumping blood into our stories, our pain and our victory. Is that really something we share ? Is that really something others should imitate or take. Perhaps could they find another way to appreciate the gifts of culture, and maybe even share some of their culture in a positive way?
I am also curious about what these white guy rappers were hiding about themselves as they flung their arms and knee bounced on stage. I leave with more questions than answers, yet I have one more request... that we all remain in search of our authentic selves and take time respect others..peace
PEACE FROM ROSE QUARTZ, THANKS FOR JOINING THIS COMPLEX TOPIC!