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Everybody Wants To Be Black Until It’s Time To Be Black

In another episode of White Women co-opting Black culture, we have yet another White woman in the long line of White Women dressing up as Black Women. Every day that I look up, there is yet another White woman treating Black women like costumes they can toss on. It is easy for a White woman to put box braids, faux locs, dawn a fake afro, etc. in their hair and think nothing of it. Black culture for them is just cos-play. Black women are a costume they can paint on with a spray tan, poorly braided synthetic hair, plastic surgery for fuller hips, implants, and injections for a rounder backside and larger lips. 

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Julz, Kim Kardashian, Carmela

Meanwhile, Black women are fighting to wear the hair that grows out their heads. States are establishing laws in 2019 and beyond so that people with traditionally Black hairstyles will not face discrimination at work. In my state of Kentucky, Representative Attica Scott has pre-filed a bill to address hair discrimination. Black women are continually criticized and marginalized for how we wear our hair. Think about that. In 2019 almost 2020, laws have to be put on the books to allow Black women to wear their natural hair, braids, or locs. White Women like Julz, the Culture Vulture Kardashian Klan, and others never think about this when they adorn box braids, “boxer braids,” or Bantu knots. They don’t have to think about it. They don’t care anything about it because they know the stigma that Black women face; they will never have to face. They can “dress up” as Black women because they know after the photoshoots and the social media likes they can take the costume off. After they get the attention they are craving, they can go back to being White women. They can pull a Miley Cyrus, do away with the Black culture and accouterments until it is time to pull them out again for profit. 

However, Black women cannot take off their skin. We wake up Black, and we go to bed Black. We fight just to be able to wear our hair. We are called ghetto for wearing certain hairstyles while White women are called “edgy” for the very same styles. We shop for items where Black hair products are regulated to a small section in a store and locked behind glass. We are judged for wearing an afro. We are discriminated in the workplace for wearing our natural hair. We fight to be seen and heard. Just to exist is a daily struggle, and no one REALLY wants that smoke. 

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Everybody wants to be Black until it’s time to be Black. Everybody loves the rhythm, but no one wants to deal with the blues. Everyone wants to Milly Rock in the rain, but no one wants to get wet. A Black costume is enough. The reality is, being a Black woman is something no White woman really wants to deal with.

White women can dress up and play Black until it’s time to get a mortgage.White women can dress up and adopt a blackcent until it’s time to interview for a job.White women can dress up and play Black until the police pull you over.White women can dress up and play Black until the police have a Glock to your head.White women can dress up and play Black because that is all it is for them. A game. A costume. Something to do to look trendy. 

White women want all the attributes of Black women without ever caring about Black women, understanding the weight that Black women must carry or using their privilege to advocate for Black women.  Black culture is just another thing for them to possess and attempt to claim as their own.

And for Black people, I hold many of us at fault. Many of you are Black Culture Judas’. You are quick to sell Black Culture for 30 pieces of silver. Many of you see nothing wrong with what women like Kim and Julz are doing, and in fact, you support it blind to the fact that daily you are being stripped of who you are. It’s as if you do not recognize what you have. Black culture moves everything. Don’t be so quick to give Black culture away because a White person can clap on beat and take a glamorous photo. Not everyone is SUPPOSED to be at the cookout. Some White people will dance to your rhythm one day and call you a n*gger the next day. Some White people will call everything about Black culture ugly, repackage it and sell it right back to you. Some White officers will do a viral dance in police uniforms and shoot a Black man dead the very same day. Some White people will do a shoulder shimmy one day and then take your place writing for a Black publication tomorrow. Some White women will criticize everything you say online and then use your very talking points for their own diversity and equity panel discussion. Because White people understand the value of Black people and Black culture and have throughout history. They have used Black culture to sell everything from makeup to cars to food to soda. White people understand how critical Black people and culture are across the world, so their goal is to always take from it for their gain. Here is a thought, instead of supporting someone that doesn’t value anything about your culture except what they can extract from, try supporting Black women that help build the culture.

While many of these women think this trend to be Black is cute, Black women are not costumes. And try as you might, Kim, Julz, and others, on your best day, you will never be a Black woman and lack the fortitude even to handle what being Black entails. I suggest you stop playing dress up and give up your weak, lackluster, filtered imitations of Black women. Even though Oscar Wilde said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness,” we are not flattered. You may have fooled everyone else, but Black women are rarely fooled. We see through your poorly packaged mediocrity, and Black women are unimpressed. 

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6 replies »

  1. In the earliest days of the Black Lives Matter protests, Palestinians recognized the struggle was real, and actually sent images of their support during Ferguson. But the white women who live in this culture, and wear pink pussy hats, and lie in wait on black twitter to appropriate the latest slang, didn’t say a damn thing. All I heard was crickets!

    When Leslie Jones was going through that shit on Twitter, not a word from white women was heard. It was up to Black women to send her love and support.

    Every single one of the women you listed will f*ck black men, and appropriate our languages, hairstyles, latest clothing, and I haven’t heard a single one of them say sh*t about how our lives matter, or protest the extrajudicial killings of black and brown people.

    This goes for Asian Americans too. KPop is full of appropriating Asians who will talk sh*t about the people who create the culture they’ve been stealing, all over social media. Most people treat black culture as if it were the local stop and rob. Run in real quick, take what they want out of it, and shoot the owner.

    Yeah, this has been tired!

  2. I saw this post earlier, skimmed over it and then came back now because I wanted to properly take in every point you’ve made because it discusses some things that I think about often.
    As a non-Black person (I’m south Asian) who often reads articles and attends events about race and ethnicity I found this post really insightful, especially the part where you discuss Black hair. Growing up I always noticed that Black women on TV in ‘professional’ or ‘corporate’ roles were not only rare but also that when they were there, they would never have their hair styled in braids or an afro and often didn’t even have their natural hair at all (which is obvioisly their choice but just an observation I made). At the same time, the new head at my school had introduced strict hair rules for the boys, which meant afros would not be allowed- I think this was quickly abandoned once they realised though. So already Black youths were being told that their hair as it is, is not appropriate for these settings. A few years later I was working on a series of events around women of colour at my (very White) university and, as I worked with 3 other volunteers who were all Black or mixed race, we arranged for one of the events to be about Black hair and embracing natural hair. This was the first time I had such a discussion about hair and truly learnt about Balck struggles in this regard including both how society appropriates and discriminates towards it, the struggles of not finding an appropriate hair dresser, and how young Black individuals come to care for and embrace their natural hair despite these stigmas and barriers. Each day I am still learning about the different experiences of various marginalised groups and I think conversation and asking uncomfortable question (for the person asking, not the one answering) is the main way through which we can learn about our actions and how they affect others but sadly, some people just don’t want to hear it. They prefer to appropriate and use other cultures without truly engaging in the politics behind the lived realities of the people from those cultures or showing solidarity with them and highlighting when injustices occur in those communities and it is just so frustrating.
    Silence in the face of racial injustice is a luxury some can afford to have and sadly, a luxury most would bask in if it means their reputation and lifestyle remain apolitical and intact.

  3. Good post, and I agree with everything you said. I think it goes both ways.

    My question is what do we call African American women who are bleaching their skin, wearing contacts and long, blond weaves…or any hair hats for that matter.

    Is that cultural appropriation??

    We all guilty of cultural appropriation at some point.

    I have colleagues who speak differently around me than they do our white colleagues to try and fit in. I’ve seen friends go to Dubai and post up on camels wearing hijabs. I don’t see anything about fighting for women’s rights while they’re vacationing.

    • I think what you’re saying is a basic misunderstanding, not just of this article, but what cultural appropriation is.

      It is not appropriation when Black k women bleach their skin, or dye their hair, because blonde hair and blue eyes is not a culture. Plenty of people of color in the world are natural blonds and redheads, and some have blue eyes. Bleaching their skin is detrimental to black womens health, and the reason they’re doing it is to win the approval of people who laud white skin and blond hair, as the epitome of beauty. Having white skin isn’t cultural and black women aren’t stealing it when they lighten their skin. No white woman on earth is being told that her skin color is inappropriate nor is she being given the constant message, by the dominant society, and sometimes even her own, that she is ugly because she is white.

      When Black People wear blond hair and blue contacts, that’s called “assimilation”. They’re doing this to win approval from white audiences, because white people are not being told that how their hair naturally grows out of their head is inappropriate.

      Appropriation and assimilation are not the same thing.

  4. 👏👏👏👏 This post is perfect for anyone who has a problem understanding why appropriating black culture is bad. Black women have been calling these white women out for imitating us for years, but every time we speak on it, we get called crazy, bitter, or jealous. We’re not any of those things. We’re just not stupid and blind to white women’s games like most people in this country.

    http://mysparkingthoughts.wordpress.com

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