By Alyssa King
The Kardashian-Jenner sisters have been known to love black culture, black men, but have yet to acknowledge where the hairstyle came from, or no cultural understanding. They have even went as far as renaming the look. Last August, Khloe Kardashian posted a picture on Instagram and Twitter of her wearing Bantu Knots captioning “Bantu Babe”.
Of course the majority of white women comment saying “Wow that’s trendy!” or magazines say “Khloe is rockin’ a new chic edgy hairstyle”. Before Khloe posted this, Rihanna had a photo shoot with Bantu knots but people called her ghetto and used the phrase “she looks like she’s from Africa” as an insult. This is what we call cultural appropriation. Cultural Appropriation is when someone takes credit for a culture and ignoring the history behind it & people who created it. Appropriation occurs when the person partaking in the culture is not aware of the significance. For example, when black people wears dreads, we are considered ghetto, unruly, our hair is dirty etc. but when white people or other people of color wears this style, it’s trendy, chic, hippy-like and cool. Many people in the black community ask “Why is black culture loved more than black people?” Young black activist Amandla Stenberg has said “White women are praised for the same things black women are shamed for having naturally and culturally.”
This is not the first time the Kardashians wore hairstyles that are mainly worn by black women. A week after Khloe posted this, Kylie posted a picture wearing of what the black community identifies as cornrows. Kylie called them Birthday Braids. Kim has also posted a picture wearing cornrows and now society called them “Boxer Braids” or “KKW Signature Braids”. As I say again, the Kardashians have been praised for things black women having been wearing for years. All these hairstyles are traditional in the black community and for people to say that the Kardashians are starting this new trend is extremely disrespectful to the black community. Many celebrities have spoken out about cultural appropriation, such as Amandla Stenberg, Azaelia Banks, Zendaya, Jesse Williams, youtuber Chime Edwards, and companies such as Teen Vogue and Affinity Magazine. Amandla responded to Kylie Jenner’s picture saying “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.” She couldn’t have said it any better. #ClapBack
As I said before, the Kardashian-Jenner sisters love black culture and love to imitate but many have come to realize they have never acknowledged the history behind the hair styles they imitate. Bantu Knots and cornrows originate from the Zulu tribe in Africa. Bantu Knots can be worn in many ways such as to keep hair out the face, for events such as weddings, or it can be unraveled and worn down for beautiful curls. Cornrows were used to maintain black hair and keep it nice & neat. Black women have bonded over hair since the start of slavery. It was the only culture we have left because everything else that was cultural had been stripped away from us.
In the process of black people being shamed for their original hairstyles, this can make blacks hate themselves and their natural beauty. I’ve seen many friends of mine that have beautiful hair from curly, to dreads, braids, and are shamed for it. Self hatred is horrible.
(Black singer Alicia Keys with 5 cornrows)
In my opinion I have nothing against people who wear hairstyles that are mainly worn by the black community . I just think its offensive to see when hairstyles that black women have been wearing for years, have been turned into this new trendy style and renamed “birthday braids” or “boxer braids”. More people need to be educated on this issue. If non-black people acknowledge the culture of the hairstyle, black people would be less offended when you wear the hairstyle.
Youtuber Chime Edwards has a amazing video about cultural appropriation and racism and I recommend everyone to watch it: