Bleek on Activism, Politics and Socio-Political Discourse
When it's on White it's Alright, When it's on Black it's Wack - The 'White Effect' in the acceptability of Black Features and Black Culture
Now I'm all for mixing of people, I believe in free borders, open dialogue between nations and sharing the positive aspects of our societies knowledge and cultures. But what is becoming more apparent, mainly within the fashion industry, is the praise of White people who either adopt Black adornment practices or have features that are typically associated with Black people, or other people of colour (POC). They are praised for the same things that, usually Black women, have been abused and denigrated for throughout history and to date - see MAC Lipstick fiasco for a recent example. What's also quite sinister and insulting is the praise of a 'new' technique, that really isn't new, renaming it and eliminating the need for credit to Black and other POC. We can thank social media for exposing these double standards, as the often racist comments are called out; challenging the beauty standard of Whiteness and sparking discussions about what is beautiful, fashionable and ultimately acceptable within the mainstream media. I'm talking cultural appropriation and the hypocritical abuse that is levelled at usually Black women, for the same thing White women get praised and validated for.
Now history tells me this is not new & neither is cultural appropriation levelled solely at Black people. The invading aggressor has always simply taken what it has wanted from the societies it has oppressed; and often denigrated the practices they don't want and the features that are different as a way of further demoralising and controlling the population it presides over. But this is 2016, the British empire is dead and the Jim Crow era is over, but sadly the ugly entrails of its legacy are left behind, that of the racist language and stereotypes perpetuated by certain members of society. It's frustrating, the very things that we are often ridiculed and made to feel were ugly on us, we then find praised and widely sought after if a usually famous White woman has it, or uses it herself. If we call it out, we are told racism is over and we should 'just get over it', but it's hard to get over it when there is abuse like 'n*&$er lips', 'ghetto hair' and 'ugly fat arses' levelled at us; if racism is over, apparently some people didn't get the memo.
Below are some examples that have appeared recently, but this is by no means the complete list sadly:-
And maybe we could just about handle it, if it wasn't persistent, deceitful and downright dangerous to our personal safety; I'm talking about the rebranding of us as thugs, when the same behaviours get labelled as coming from a 'damaged' or 'mentally ill' person if you're White. When we get slut shamed for having larger bottoms and twerking, when before twerking there was the Mapouka dance and other variations that have originated from West Africa, and of course if Miley does it, it's 'artistic' and she's expressing her 'sexuality'.
Quite frankly It's tiring and infuriating. It's tiring because we shouldn't have to constantly remind people that we exist, that we have contributed to western culture in more ways than we are given credit for and that we are in fact beautiful, intelligent and multifaceted. We're tired of being abused for the same things that others get praised for and we're tired of the verbal and physical violence that's forced on us whenever we 'step out of 'line' or dare to celebrate our features and culture. It's time to stop the cultural appropriation and stop stealing our heritage, our culture and our lives.
If you've ever heard the phrase "You're pretty for a dark girl" and been enraged, then this is the site for you! Celebrating those with more melanin than most, the Pretty Period campaign aims to do away with the back handed compliment that is so often used against darker beauties.
Its creator Yaba Blay, Professor of Africana Studies at Drexel University explained the genesis of the site this way: “Enter ‘Pretty. Period.,’ a (soon to be) trans media project created as a visual missive in reaction to the oh-so-popular, yet oh-so-offensive “compliment” – “You’re pretty for a dark-skinned girl.” Our collective response is, “No, we’re pretty. PERIOD.”
Take a look for yourself, but I warn you, you may not be able to handle all the Black Girl Magic.