Posted by Kay
Singer TK Wonder has recently been featured in Vogue US, The Gap Holiday plus &Other Stories campaigns along with her identical twin sister, Cipriana Quann (co-founder of Urban Bush Babes).
She is currently working on her debut solo EP as well as fulfilling her role as executive contributor for Urban Bush Babes.
I’m sure you’ve heard this point of view before. In our all-too polarized media it ranges from “People are too sensitive” to “Oh no playing the race card again,” and in response to the recent Fashion Police faux-pas, “Patchouli oil and weed is in reference to hippies, not black people!”
Another side of the argument is laced with cultural misappropriation: ‘racially insensitive is a nice way of saying racist’ and ‘If she isn’t then why did Giuliana Rancic say Kylie Jenner’s faux locs were edgy but Zendaya Coleman‘s smelled of weed?’
Whichever perspective appeals to you, I think the majority of us should recognize that these remarks were made out of simple ignorance.
This does not in any way excuse the words or inappropriate ‘jokes’ from The Fashion Police but it does it touch upon the wide spread lack of knowledge regarding ‘natural hair’, which Giuliana has actually joked about before on this show.
I am an expert on this topic. I speak from experience. A ton of it.
In fact any black woman with natural hair is an expert on this matter, fielding a colossal amount of questions regarding the state of their hair on a daily basis.
Giuliana mentioned in her apology that she didn’t want to be a part of “perpetuating stereotypes.” Derived from ignorance, stereotyping is most certainly perpetuated by mainstream media. So much so that women in Middle America probably think that Madea is a representation of black women everywhere, that a black woman with big or long hair must be wearing a weave or extensions. The belief of a Chupacabra’s existence has a better chance than the belief that a black woman can grow long hair without such assistance.
Let’s face the facts. People stereotype. Hollywood is notorious for it, media coverage is often subliminally cloaked in it, and even the law that protects and serves has proved that they do too. Stereotyping is the popular girl and some people, a lot of people, hover around her either consciously or subconsciously.
Wikipedia the word ‘locs’ and read about multiple cultures that have donned them centuries ago. For some it is a religion and others a fashion statement.
Then, somewhere along the lines Bob Marley became the archetype for locs, and to Americans and various countries synonymous with Jamaica, the culture of reggae music and weed. His influence procreated generations that believe that this are what locs truly represent: reggae music and weed.
You see it on t-shirts and artwork-depicting Bob inundated in a cloud of perfectly coiled smoke. I am not in any way holding Bob Marley culpable. The incredible talent and global popularity of one man and his lifestyle cannot be held accountable for stereotypes that exist today however music is a very strong elixir, and I still taste the remnants.
In the past I’ve had a man remark how much he loved my locs (which I do not have but often mistaken for locs) and in the same breath ask if ‘I had any weed or knew of anyone selling’.
These queries, actions and words are assumptions based on a total lack of understanding.
Remarks that seem completely ignorant and asinine to some do not faze others, especially if they themselves harbor the same stereotypes and find validity in such remarks.
So no I won’t blame it on Bob, but the Bob Marley effect is still very much prevalent in today’s society.
I’ll close my piece with this. Do I believe these remarks were made from the heart of a racist? No I do not.
Do I believe this is a racial problem? Yes and it inflicts millions of people.
If ignorance is lack of knowledge, then acknowledging that Giuliana apologized twice and expecting everyone offended to simply ‘move on already’ is not solving the issue or making anyone more knowledgeable and aware.
At this stage, ‘Moving On’ would be to ignore the problem. These attitudes and assumptions are alive, thriving, have a potency that continues to marginalize and in recent cases, producing volatile results.
We can’t keep stitching up wounds that do not have time to heal because the stitches are incessantly being ripped off before they have the chance to do so.
So whatever your stance, I hope we can all try to understand that lack of awareness is at the root of it, and that it will continue to fester and burgeon without limitations unless we address it head on.
Keep the door open to discuss and leave that painful wound open to have a chance to properly heal. It will take it’s own time but that is the only way one wholly and truly moves on.