Khloé Kardashian just posted a photo of herself wearing bantu knots, and pissed off a whole lot of people. For Khloé, it may be just a hairstyle, but for many within the black community, the hairstyle has roots that are so deeply tied to blackness that it is impossible to strip the style of its origin. As a result, the look becomes yet another form of cultural appropriation carried out by the Kardashians.
The problematic hairstyle
As you can see, she has her typically straight hair in bantu knots, a style worn by black women to keep hair neat and protected and to add curl.
Khloé’s usual hairstyle
Here, Khloé’s hair is completely different. The issue isn’t that she can’t wear different hairstyles. The star clearly switches up her look on a regular basis, and we totally support her playing with her style! The issue is that the look is appropriating black culture.
Why cultural appropriation isn’t cool, according to Amandla Stenberg.
“Appropriation occurs when a style leads to racist generalizations or stereotypes where it originated,” Amandla explains, “but is deemed as high fashion, cool, or funny when the privileged take it for themselves.”
Last year, queer woman of color and everything icon Amandla Stenberg explained in great detail why cultural appropriation is such a problem. The educational piece, uploaded by Hype Hair Magazine, got *so* real about what it means when non-black women wear black hairstyles.
It isn’t just a hairstyle.
As Amandla explains, “On a smaller scale but in a similar vein, braids and cornrows are not merely stylistic. They’re necessary in order to keep black hair neat.”
The issue here is that it’s never just a hairstyle, or just a bindi, or just a headdress. When someone from the majority culture pulls a look from a marginalized group, they’re completely ignoring the cultural and social implications of what they’ve done. In a world where natural hair is regularly banned from schools and costs people their jobs, it just isn’t okay that it’s cool and trendy for someone like Khloé to rock the look, but unprofessional, unattractive, and even “ghetto” for black women to have bantu knots.
If you’re going to rock black styles, you have to be there for the black community.
Something we just don’t see from the Kardashians.
As people say time and time again, it isn’t just that black people are bitter. It’s that people love to be ~cool~ by wearing black styles and listening to rap and doing other things that originate from the black community, but when it comes to things like police brutality, racist dress codes, and structural racism, they’re silent. You can’t have the good parts and ignore all the bad that comes with being black.
At the end of the day, it always come down to this: Why risk hurting so many people when there are so many trendy hairstyles that are up for grabs that don’t have a negative impact on marginalized communities?