Let's Talk Black Culture: The Problem with Celebrities like Kylie Jenner

Flashback to even just a few years back. Black women were ridiculed for their afro-styled hair, cornrows, their 'lips being too large,' the way they spoke, and multitudes of other racist, stereotyped, and bigoted prejudices on their appearances.

Flash forward to today. White women style their hair into cornrows. White women start to 'twerk'. White women suction their lips into shot glasses at a last-ditch attempt to look more like their black counterparts.

The appropriation of black culture is even more prominent than ever. One of the most prominent, publicized examples of this that I can think of would be the case of Kylie Jenner, a member of the ever-so-infamous Kardashian family. From lip injections to cornrows, Kylie Jenner takes the cake when it comes to black appropriation, and unapologetically so; she often attempts at making her own features look "more black", regardless of the fact that she has yet to show any inclination or care towards black people, or their culture. Jenner even went as far as to darkening her skin for an Instagram photo (commonly known as 'blackface') captioned "wish I looked like dis all the time thank u".  After backlash, the photo was soon deleted.

This is where the problem begins. A young black actress, Amandla Stenberg, most well-known for her role as Rue in The Hunger Games, recently called Jenner out on her antics, stating things such as "black features are beautiful. black women are not", indicating popular culture's overall disinterest in black culture and the lives of black people, picking and choosing the more glamorous parts of black lives instead. Stenberg argues that those two are not interchangeable, and will never be, but the white people who constantly appropriate, simply do not seem to understand this.

How many celebrities have you seen twerking and appropriating black slang ("bae", "thot", etc.), and turning their backs on black people when the Ferguson riots were happening? Even with celebrities aside, how many people did you see doing the #KylieJennerChallenge on Instagram and Facebook, where people suctioned their lips into shot glasses to make their lips look bigger, and how many of those people didn't even bat an eyelash during the Sandra Bland case? I've actually had a friend come up to me and say that she wished she was black—and that comment alone horrified me, knowing that by that, she meant she could have all of the attractive features of black women. Nothing else. Just that. No one is angry at white women for wearing box braids or twerking; celebrating black culture is, of course, allowed, as it is with any sort of non-white culture. But celebrating black culture also requires understanding the ins and out of the culture itself, and not appropriating everything that black people do, without the current social consequences of actually being black. The erasure of black history in favour of wearing braids and getting lip injections, guilt-free, is where the problem lies.