The more black fashion appears in mainstream the less black, black people become. When black fashion is pictured we start to imagine black men and women in gold jewelry, wearing Air Jordan’s, and braids. These are just three things that make black people black and give representation to the black community. However somewhere along the line the public—mostly white celebrities—started to notice the stylish ideas that were being created. Although it is uncertain when this phenomenon started to occur, it was visible when white rappers felt comfortable wearing over sized clothing and when white women decided it was a good idea to wear braids and hoop earring. This was not a big problem until they wore it and it was branded as their own to sell and distribute with no acknowledgment of where it really originated. This lead to widespread cultural appropriation and people believing that they could be more socially acceptable and grab the media’s attention if they dressed like a black person. For example, Huffington Post article “On Miley Cyrus, Hip-hop, And The Objectification Of Black Women” by DeAsia Paige suggests that Miley Cyrus’ new style and attitude that was influenced by hip hop culture was the sole reason why she is considered to be demeaning and appropriating of black women.
Black fashion has always been a political statement of freedom and fighting against oppression. According to Buzzfeed’s video, “100 Years of Black Fashion,” natural hair, Afros, and African cloth became symbols of African heritage and pride and were further popularized throughout the 1960s.” From the 1960’s and 1970’s black fashion depicted the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement. Members of the Black Panther movement popularized afros and dark sunglasses. In the 1973 the greatest contribution to music was created, otherwise known as the birth of hip hop. Hip hop music influenced many teens to sport bright athletic track suits and loose-fitting clothes. Black icons such as Michael Jackson, Salt and Pepa, and Whitney Houston brought their unapologetic style and grace to the 80’s with flaming red leather jackets and matching outfits for couples. Finally, we come to the most inspirational era of black culture the 90’s. During the 1990’s, black women were going back into their roots and wearing a multitude of fashionable braids. Janet Jackson, Alicia Keys, and Erykah Badu influenced generations to come that it was okay to be natural and take care of black hair. In today’s era some aspects of black culture are flourishing while others are being taken advantage of completely. According to “Money flowing into the natural hair industry is a blessing and curse for those who built it up” an article on LA Times written by Makeda Easter in 2016, 2.5 billion dollars was spent on black hair care product by black consumers. While natural hair goes up hair relaxers are taking a 36 percent dive in prices from 2012 to 2017, stated by the article “USA: Relaxer sales fall but Black hair care market is booming, thanks to natural hair movement” from the website Brazil Beauty News. Unfortunately, the more black women wear their natural hair out the more attention it grabs as with all black fashion.
Black fashion has always been a major factor in how black people and the world view themselves. The black community has always suffered from the ignorance, oppression, and racism of others who saw them as less. With that being said, black people remember their history through appearances first. The issue of black fashion becoming more mainstream is that a community of people become muffled and silenced by the others wanting to be like them but not like them. To be truly black means to experience the hatred the world has for them and wait for everything that is considered yours to be stolen from underneath your feet. To be truly black is to feel numb every time the news reports of another innocent black victim dead at the hands of the police. Being black means being told countless times in a lifetime that the world was made to be against you. Being truly black means to be called “urban”, “hood”, “ghetto”, and “scary”. These attributes may also find their way into other minorities, but they can never truly understand the pain and the hardships. The styles the black communities wear is a message all on its own that says to the world, “I have a history and it will be recognized.”
In no way am I saying that cultures should stick to their own culture since that would be a terrible world. I am saying that if a person does take ideas or use aspects from a culture they should definitely refer back to their cultural influence. Many celebrities have stolen from different cultures in the past and have gotten away with it countless times. Even though the black community show strong disapproval towards these celebrities’ actions with no apology. Then the media surrounding these famous celebrities increase the exposure of these “trends”. Cultural appropriation happens when a culture, different then the culture a person is in, is worn and is not acknowledge or is demeaning for others outside that community to wear.
The major contributors to the loss off black identity is famous white women and the media. The media is responsible in showing the public what celebrities wear. However, they also set the tone for how the public should respond using catchy words or phrases. Famous white women find inspiration in black fashion from the hairstyles and clothing we wear then incorporating it into their daily lives. Their mistake is not correcting the media on where they got their style sense. When white women say nothing, a culture is silenced because they are allowing this type of injustice to continue. In stead of black culture being credited the white women are accounted instead.