Stop the presses. No, really stop. Stop all the racist and insensitive white wo/men at Vogue, Marie Claire, the L.A. Times and other professional papers and rags from printing right this minute. The attack on black culture and womanhood has got to stop. We ain’t playing. Are these people trying to be the linchpin to the revolution and uprising?!
First, US Weekly wanted to be painfully clear to all black women everywhere that Ciara’s dreadlocks were not graceful nor elegant enough for a wedding – because white people declared it as so (they’ve since deleted their statement). Then Vogue proclaimed that white women are the ones who are solely responsible for making fat asses acceptable because white people have finally declared it as so (so goes the Edwin Epps and Mary Epps twisted thought dynamic over a black woman’s sexual agency). But that’s not all folks. These subliminal racists are trying to snatch edges. Literally. You see, the LA Times has decided to jump in on the currently trending historical re-write of American history and redefinition of black culture by publishing an article stating their claim of why white women wearing corn rows are less urban and therefore more acceptable. They even got a hair stylist to back them up going as far to declare: “Cornrows are moving away from urban, hip-hop to more chic and edgy. […] “Just one cornrow or a couple on the side is really cool [as opposed to a headful], but they have to be on the right person with the right clothing. Obviously, McQueen is very gothic and strong, so that customer is looking for that Elizabethan or ‘Game of Thrones’ edginess.”
“The right person with the right clothing.” The richness is overwhelming.
As opposed to a headful. As opposed to the cornrows we recently celebrated in “Where Have All The Girls Rocking Fly Cornrow Hairstyles Gone?”. As opposed to the cornrows Susan Taylor donned while reigning queen over the pages of Essence. As opposed to Cicely Tyson, Tyra, Queen Latifah, Tracee Ellis Ross, Alicia Keys, Jill Scott and Jada Pinkett Smith’s braids…As opposed to my corn rows. As opposed to yours. As opposed to black people in Africa because that Elizabethan (?!) and “Game of Thrones” edginess is much more refined than the braids found on black people from what people of the Elizabethan era would have called “the dark continent.”
In the article, Bo Derek’s (no, that’s not a typo) influence on cornrows is cited as well as other big players in making “cornrows with a punk vibe” Caucasian chic including: Cara Delevingne, Rita Ora, Kristen Stewart, Madeline Brewer and the Alexander McQueen, DKNY and Marchesa runways. Not nary black woman was mentioned in the article. Instead, it’s thin white women we have to thank for taking the “urban” (which is obviously new way to say “black” or “ghetto” just like “thug” is the new “nigger”) out of cornrows and making them elegant. How in the world can something we created move away from us? They out here in these streets colonizing hair styles now?!
The author seems to go out of her way to not mention black people at all because it would seem that to admit that something is inspired by black fashion or culture is just too glaringly honest. The issue with this L.A. Times piece is not white women deciding to wear cornrows, the issue is the celebration of white women wearing them and appropriating them as their own and as if they were the first to do it while blatantly ignoring that black people have been doing this since 500 B.C. according to some studies. You can’t erase a group of people from history because it sounds good in theory and looks good in print.
The act of getting your hair cornrowed is deeply rooted in black culture and represents not only a hairstyle but familial bonds and African history. Cornrows even survived the middle passage and the brutality of stripping away a people’s culture. To throw this out as meaningless and adhere their significance to a few white women rocking cornrows for fun is ridiculous.
It’s articles like these in these past few weeks that continue to emphasize what we already know – black women have to continue to support one another because no matter if we live on the block or own the block, the only thing the world sees us as is ghetto, angry and black.