The lyrics, "Don't touch my hair, when it's the feelings I wear. Don't touch my soul, when it's the rhythm I know. Don't touch my crown. They say the vision I've found. Don't touch what's there, when it's the feelings I wear. They don't understand what it means to me, where we chose to go, where we've been to know. You know this hair is my shit, rolled the rod, I gave it time
But this here is mine." are the perfect backdrop for our discussion today on Kim K and her recent appropriation.
That's right. Another week, another Kardashian/ Jenner Black appropriation story. (I feel like since I have been writing publicly, this blog has seen more than its share of culture vulturing from this clan, and it's beyond enough.)
I find myself in a difficult place with Kim K. On one hand, I don't like her because I find her problematic from a feminism stance, and from an authenticity space because I find her fake at times.
To be honest, it would be easy for me not to like her. Given the fact that I feel that she personally responsible for the demise of one of the culture's most prolific musicians to ever rap (shout out to Kanye's College Drop Out and Late Registration days) and sent him straight to the sunken place.
Then there are times when I am legitimately rooting for her. When she took the time to educate her followers on the Armenian genocide and donates to positive causes, that's the Kim I want to win.
As of this week, I don't particularly care for her.
Insert eyeroll of all eyeballs here.
First and foremost, they are called Fulani braids, or at the minimum, cornrows. They are a hairstyle popularized by the Fula people of Western Africa. They are an ancient hairstyle that has been around for hundreds of years.
They certainly didn't start in 1979 and certainly not by Bo Derek's appropriating behind either.
Secondly, (Spoiler Alert) it's not just a hairstyle we are talking about. It's part of African culture that children of the diaspora have been frantically reclaiming, a culture that was all but erased from us during slavery.
For Black People, it's not just a hairstyle. This goes beyond mere aesthetics down to the cultural oppression and refusal to acknowledge privilege.
For years, Black Women were subjected to hatred due to our hair styles by popular culture only to now have it appropriated by the same culture that deemed it all the adjectives for bad you could think of. Black women were once forced by law to wrap their hair to "keep order". Locs were once called dirty, and now Becky and Brittany be rocking them beneath flower crowns at Coachella. Slicked "baby hair", once considered "ghetto" is now walking down the runways of Marc Jacobs' shows (Like almost every season now, by the way).
Now...Bo Derek braids...
And influencers, such as Kardashian, stealing from a culture that is not their own is only fueling the cultural theft. She is a troublingly frequently and flippant cultural appropriator and, worse of all, refuses to acknowledge it as a problem ever.
Being married to a Black Man and having what the world will consider Black Children does not make you entitled to Black Culture. It will always be problematic, no matter what she does or when she does it, especially given her flippant, "deal with it" attitude.
It has become so frequent, Kardashian has become a joke to most of us.
Kim ....these braids did not start and end with Bo Derek ....they originated from African culture pic.twitter.com/RQY8RTH6fX— Melanie321 (@Mellie4Justice) January 29, 2018
Kim is so annoyed that no one is talking about her or her man right now that she intentionally pissed us off by calling these “Bo Derek” braids. Stay Woke pic.twitter.com/ibbIL7Q2tV— BB (@Brie__Bailey) January 29, 2018
Kim Kardashian said she got "Bo Derek braids." She is 100% out here trolling Black women. You can't convince me otherwise. pic.twitter.com/LZeh4f8BqH— Tina Vasquez (@TheTinaVasquez) January 29, 2018
Kim K calling her cornrows "Bo Derek" braids is just as, if not more infuriating as when I wore my name plate necklace to work and someone called it a "Carrie Bradshaw" necklace.— freddie ransome (@Ransome_Note) January 29, 2018
So no, Kim. Just because Bo Derek wore them in the 70's doesn't mean the style can or should be attributed to her.“Oh no these are boxer braids”— Kelechi Okafor (@kelechnekoff) January 29, 2018
“Oh these are Bo Derek braids”
Anything to avoid dealing with admitting she’s inspired by Black women.
Erasure is real.
And for everyone who will say that this post is anti-feminism because I'm picking on poor Kim yet again: Feminism is not hand holding, singing Kum-Ba-Ya together. It is calling your sisters to a higher, transparent, authentic standard. It's calling out problematic behaviors, of which cultural appropriation is pretty severe, and educating perpetrators on their cultural theft.
Which is what I will continue to do because my culture is not a costume, it's not a trend. It is who I am, who my people are, and it's bigger than aesthetics.
Don't touch our hair.