Kylie Jenner Is Misguided, Not Racist
“Everybody wanna be a ni**a, but nobody wanna be a ni**ga.”
Paul Mooney hit the nail on the head. Sadly, when African-Americans create and embrace trends, whether it be in music, fashion, beauty or simply in the way we talk, credit and attention to it isn’t given until a White person jumps on the bandwagon. While we champion ourselves and pioneers, until Miley Cyrus brought twerking to the mainstream stage, how many people were celebrating the art of shaking and popping all that rests on our rear ends?
Black culture has been ripped off for as long as clocks have chimed at noon. But with the help of social media and YouTube, Black folks are not taking it anymore. We are more apt to point it out whether through the use of a hashtag gone viral or through a dissertation on a comment underneath someone’s Instagram picture.
So naturally, when Amandla Stenberg and all her perfection calmly schooled Kylie Jenner on cultural appropriation, I applauded the young actress like most of my peers. Her previous work on how hair ties into cultural appropriation made her the perfect candidate to deliver this lesson.
But after looking at Jenner’s photo and caption, and the very vocal reaction to it after the fact, I will say that my cheers dropped a few decibels.
I honestly do not view her photo as a villainous attempt at cultural appropriation. Nor do I think she deserves to be labeled a racist, as some have tried to call her. Where she is at fault is unfortunately being under a constant microscope as someone who grew up under the ever-watchful eye of cameras thanks to her TV family.
Kylie Jenner is a heavily misguided 17-year-old girl whose interests, thanks to those around her, rest more in vanity than race relations. But then again, what did we really expect from the teen? And do we really want to hear her opinion on such serious issues? Would you even take her stance seriously if she tried to give her honest opinion?
I didn’t think so. But back to the picture.
In the image, Jenner is seen wearing cornrows that she initially hid under a bright blue wig. There is no doubt that the teen is clueless as far as the history of the style, but so are most of us when it comes to our own cultural nuances. Still, the picture, the pose, and the caption were pretty standard for a 17-year-old. And yet, it the image brought Jenner a great deal of backlash. A resentment she could only respond to by saying to Stenberg, “Mad if I do, Mad if I don’t … Go hang w Jaden or something.”
*Enter deep sigh here*
Will Stenberg’s comment encourage Jenner to head to Google and do some hair research? Maybe read a thing or two about cultural appropriation and the way the bodies of Black women are viewed? No. I’d bet my savings it won’t. And if the tables were turned, such criticism probably wouldn’t motivate me to do so either. But instead of attacking Jenner and trying to force the cultural appropriation argument down her throat, what we should celebrate is Stenberg, who is undoubtedly wise beyond her teenage years. To be so knowledgeable about such major issues at 16, and not afraid to use her platform to discuss them is an admirable thing. She is starting a conversation that is needed from a youthful perspective, and aims to include other young influencers.
Unfortunately, she tried to include the wrong person and in the wrong place. Despite the influence Kylie Jenner already has, like her sisters, many only expect her to make headlines due to who her parents let her date, what her lips and body look like, and what she does with her hair, rather than to do so due to her stance on a worthy cause or issue. And if you ask me, based on what she’s grown up around and seen most of her young life, that’s not entirely her fault.