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Just as some ladies love to tote around their Michael Kors bag as a status symbol, quite a few folks are of the belief that some men of color pursue white women for the same reasons. Playing around with the concept, Black artist Nate Hill pinched a few nerves by wearing unclothed white women around his neck — literally!

His photographic project is called “Trophy Scarves,” according to a Vice interview, and the Brooklynite artist has been traveling around town draping unclothed white women over his shoulders. Hill wanted to tackle the notion of non-White males using Caucasian women to elevate their own social statuses. He told Vice:

“There are people who see certain races as status symbols, and someone had to comment on that.”

While the Vice interview didn’t delve into the true essence and meaning of “Trophy Scarves”, the internet gobbled it up and used the artist’s work as a platform for a discussion on race.

“Marrying/having a relationship with a white woman seems to be something many successful black men do immediately upon gaining success and they do it for a number of reasons: because white women are the beauty standard, because of internalized racism, because they want children with lighter skin than their own so that their children don’t have to go through as much discrimination as their black parent. That’s what this art piece is criticizing,” commenter Iman Carol Fears said.

One commenter on The Rootwho identified herself as a white woman, said she was offended by Hill’s art project — at first. But then as she continued reading about “Trophy Scarves”, she supported the overall symbolism behind the controversial photos:

 “I have been on several (first and last) dates with black men who will for some reason think that it is ok to disclose to me that they don’t date black women.  At that moment it becomes clear to me that this person is not the least bit interested in me as a person, they are merely using me as an accessory because they believe that my pearly white skin makes them appear more affluent,” she said.

While some people grasp what Hill is attempting to convey through his art, some critics are calling “Trophy Scarves” contradicting:

“Your project (since you’re a MAN of color) reinforces patriarchy. Despite what you said right there about “white women being people” and not trophies, your art systematically reduces them to objects just like the men you are intending to criticize,” a Tumblr blogger said, simply referring to himself as a MoC(Man of Color).

In Hill’s photos, he’s dressed in an urbane fashion: tuxedo, bow tie, and large glasses. The white models, on the other hand, wear their birthday suits mostly. The Tumblr blogger highlights that while the artist is subjugated by White supremacy and the subliminal pressure to marry non-Black women, he is, at the same time, uplifted by sexism — and he further supports misogyny by wearing unclothed women as scarves.

As Hill mentioned in Vice, he plans to continue toting unclothed white women for this “Trophy Scarves” project into the next year. “I don’t know how many is enough. I think maybe like 100 trophy scarves. And then after 100, maybe go to 200,” he said.

Along with a bit of outrage on the outside, Hill says that he also gets the side-eye from his wife for some of his risque art projects. But the Brooklyn native simply joked that he blocks her from his social networks. “I blocked her on Twitter, so she can’t see what I’m doing. She just followed me on Instagram, so I’m probably going to block her on there too.”

Sounds like risqué business in more ways than one.

What are your thoughts on Hill’s project?

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