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To think of cultural appropriation as merely “one culture doing stuff from another culture” is to be painfully obtuse. To say that Black women wearing straightened hair and colored contacts is the same thing as Kylie and Kendall wearing cornrows and dreadlocks is to completely ignore the power dynamics of race and fame.

(One of) the sad thing(s) here is that you could have just gone on a run-of-the-mill tirade against Black women because you don’t like us, or, even better, you could have actually put something good into the world and reminded those of us who unfortunately do still intentionally and exclusively aspire to Eurocentric standards of beauty that our Black is beautiful.

There is absolutely a case to be made against the pervasiveness of mainstream media’s definition of beauty as Whiteness. You could have fought that enemy instead of doing battle with us. Instead, you actually let us in on how the rusty wheels creaking forward in your head led to your terrible decision to write what you wrote, saying; “I could rip into the backwards logic of those who disagree with Kylie Jenner’s decision to enhance the size of her lips and rear-end.  I could probably come up with 100 reasons why she isn’t guilty of appropriating black culture. Or instead, I could turn the argument around and accuse black women of appropriating white culture. It would be easy: all I would have to do is compile a list of common practices that black women use to make themselves look more European.”

Did you think that my ire at reading your words, being a Black woman, would lead me to say well he has a point there… C’mon, son. You can’t disprove something you believe to be false by likening it to things that are proven to be true. All you’ve done is assign an incorrect label to practices that have, indeed, gone on for decades, but you being incorrect and unclear on vocabulary doesn’t alter the thing you’re describing, just the language you’ve erroneously used to describe it.

In completely bulldozing the actual concept of appropriation with your denigration of Black women who’ve had rhinoplasty or who’ve dated white men, you’ve told a lie with a grain of truth, but you’re focused on the lie. And even if your despicable misogynoir here was hyperbolic in nature, you took a wrong turn on that route because I’m on the receiving end of far too many attacks on my Black Woman-ness to let you run wild over my spirit in service of your failed point.

But no, your every syllable is so steeped in hatred of Black women that it comes across even in your punctuation. A genuine discussion of that ugly grain of truth, that some Black women have internalized self-hate and aspire completely and intentionally to Eurocentric beauty standards or other standards of whiteness, would not crack whips over Black women’s backs, but rather look us in the eyes and affirm our worth, as ourselves.

Yes, there are Black women who emulate Eurocentric beauty standards to the extent of altering their bodies and hating themselves. Still. In 2015. And there are also Black women with weaves to protect their natural hair as they grow it out underneath. There are Black women who have weaves because they like to whip their hair back and forth when “Drip Drop” comes on in the club. And there are Black women with weaves who have them because they want them and simply don’t give a shit about your opinion and analysis of them or their hair.

If you tell someone, from birth, that their natural assets are not good enough, or not as good as what those other people over there are born with, and then give them the means to acquire what those other people who have been declared better than them have, and they acquire them, you don’t blame that person. You blame the systems that told them the lie that someone else is better than them in the first place.

If they grow to understand and recognize the lie, but still choose to uphold and disseminate it, that’s a different story altogether. And if you tell that other group, from birth, that they are superior simply by virtue of what they were born with, and they recognize that the “less than” group actually had some pretty cool features, and they can acquire them and succeed with them while the “less thans” remain less than, that’s a problem.

That’s the appropriation we fight against when we bemoan the continued celebration of Kylie and Kendall’s “envelope-pushing” hairstyles, while Black women’s natural and braided hairstyles are still often restricted , insulted, or at the very least, not exalted and encouraged at a mainstream level.

For Colored Girls Who Consider Clapback When Attacks from Black Men* Are Enuf  was originally published on

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