Wherein Naomi goes into a spiel about culture appropriation.
Hello my couple of lonely followers! Halloween has already passed but that doesn’t mean wearing costumes is just over yet!
Whenever it comes to cosplaying certain character and people, there’s going to be that one person that’s imitating someone’s culture, or maybe they’re going for the gold medal and wearing their entire race as a costume. You give the side-eye and whisper to your friend “Does she really think wearing that is okay?”
Yuuup! When you see a non-POC (Person of Color) wearing box-braids or cornrows, what to do? I mean, I know what I want to do, but I think smacking someone in public would get me forcibly removed out of Costco.
Some people don’t understand why wearing cornrows might be offensive to black people, and they need a little reality check. So here it goes, in no particular order, the answers to some questions you might be asking.
1. We all believe in equality, so why can’t I wear the hairstyle?
I get where you’re coming from. You think that asking for black hair styles should be exclusive for black people is creating a bigger rift in the racial tension than before.
Unfortunately, this is not so. In a perfect world, everyone could be treated equally, so much so that you can wear whatever hairstyle without offending anyone. In that perfect world, you wouldn’t have any power or privilege over the people you’re borrowing it from.
Because we live in a system of oppression that creates power dynamic between different groups of people, we don’t live in such a world. For example, in the United States, white people get the added benefit of having the dominant culture.
As a person who identifies as female, I have to deal with an unrealistic standard of beauty that is constantly being advertised as the ideal body. Particularly in America, beauty is heavily taken from Eurocentric images which say that being beautiful means being white, and that “normal” hair is fine and silky. As you can imagine, this is nothing like my kinky natural African hair.
Because this type of hair is considered normal, most commercials don’t show any people of color, and if they do, it’s to advertise a perm-a chance to chemically straighten my hair so you can achieve their standard of beauty.
Not to mention some black people cannot get jobs for wearing their natural hair. It can be considered “unprofessional” or “unsuited for work” if a person of color wears black hair styles.
Although we should be considered equals, we’re not. A white woman is free to take up black hairstyles and start a “new fashion trend” while a black person could do the same and face ridicule and be ostracized.
Until we correct this imbalance and this difference, when a non POC wears cornrows, they are acting upon privilege and Black culture. They are joining on a toxic norm that says black people are not as beautiful as their white counterparts, but our hair is cool, as long as white people wear it.
Originally, I planned this to be a very short blog post, but who knew I had this much to say? Starting from one question to another, this might become it’s own little series.
Do you have any experiences with culture appropriation you want to talk about? Tell me in the comments below!