C: I’m in a class about African American psychology and there’s this white couple in front of me that will not stop flirting. They don’t take notes and the guy never pretends to pay attention. I don’t care if you aren’t interested, I know it’s 9 a.m. class, but don’t make a class about the underrepresented and understudied psychology of black people the backdrop of your dry-ass romance. It’s really gross at best and it’s incredibly disrespectful. If I had the chance, I’d knock ‘em out.
The core of Amandla’s discussion about cultural appropriation had barely settled on America’s consciousness, much less our subconsciousness before this happened…..
and then swiftly this happened.
This “conversation” between 16 year old Stenberg and the now 18 year old Jenner caused a huge uproar. Immediately Amandla not only was accused of being a race baiter and of being the stereotypical “angry black girl” she also became Andy Cohen’s “jackhole of the day” for her counter of Kylie’s cornrows. Many people were astounded that this situation was all about hair. Anyone should be allowed to wear their hair in any fashion they want. Even the styles that have been traditionally worn by black women and girls for decades. The styles that have been worn traditionally by black women and girls for decades, primarily for function, secondarily for fashion. The styles didn’t seem to be on anyones radar or worthy of praise until Miley,or Iggy, Kendall Jenner started wearing them.
When Amandla Stenberg called out Kylie Jenner’s cultural appropriation many came to her defense. Cries of: shes young (she had allegedly been in a relationship with a now 25 year old man since she was 16), “shes just trying to figure it out” the words of Justin Bieber, and that shes can do whatever she wants flooded the interwebs as the dispute between the girls became the highest trending hashtag.
I agree everyone should be allowed to wear their hair the way they want. A London boy in 2011 shouldn’t have been sent home because his cornrows were believed to be too closely associated with London’s gang culture. White children were also prevented from shaving their heads for fear of its association to skinheads.
7 year old Tiana Parker should not have had to leave school because of her hair in 2013. She had attended her school for a year before her dreadlocks caused an issue.12 year old Vanessa VanDyke should not have been threatened with expulsion for wearing her hair in the natural form that grew out of her head.
A Native American boy, 5 years old, was sent home on his first day of kindergarten because his traditional braids did not meet the required dress code for little boys.
Okay…clearly the issue also lies in the school dress code policies. Policies that seem to make it very difficult for children of color or of other cultures
to wear their hair in anyway that is different from their straight haired counterparts. So no, Amandla’s comment was not a jab at Kylie but instead were the actions of a young woman trying to inform a privileged, young, soon to be adult celebrity with a massive fan base of impresionable individuals, to not be so careless and ignorant to the value that has historically been placed on hair and hairstyles by other cultures. It is possible to appreciate that culture without appropriating it.
After these events I imagine that amandla would have had one last question:
What would America be like if we, as a society, defended the freedom of children of any and all color to be who they are the same way we defend young girls/women, like Kylie Jenner, to do what they want?
Vanessa was featured on the real 11/13/2015 and her Afro still looks amazing.
I have the most vivid memories of being seven years old and my mom picking me up from my grandmother’s house. There were the three of us, a family tree in an ombré of mocha next to the caramel complexion of my mom and light-skinned, freckled me. I remember the sense of belonging, having nothing to do with the color of my skin. It was only outside the comforts of home that the world began to challenge those ideals. I took an African-American studies class at Northwestern where we explored colorism; it was the first time I could put a name to feeling too light in the black community, too mixed in the white community. For castings, I was labeled ‘ethnically ambiguous.’ Was I Latina? Sephardic? ‘Exotic Caucasian’? Add the freckles to the mix and it created quite the conundrum. To this day, my pet peeve is when my skin tone is changed and my freckles are airbrushed out of a photo shoot. For all my freckle-faced friends out there, I will share with you something my dad told me when I was younger: ‘A face without freckles is a night without stars.’
Photo: Awning of the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, New York.
The Savoy Ballroom (1926-1958), famously known as “the home of happy feet,” was a world renowned dance ballroom in Harlem, New York. The “world’s finest ballroom” scaled a full city block, from 140th to 141st streets on Harlem’s Lenox Avenue, and was two story’s high, it’s signature marquee stretching well over the sidewalk and nearby stores.
Founded by Moe Gale, a Jewish man, and managed by Charles Buchanan, a Black man, the Savoy from its inception was the first and only integrated dance ballrooms in the whole of New York. On the “track,” its block long dance floor, working class African-American Harlemites and wealthy whites from downtown would lindy hop, jitterbug jive, and rhumboogie the night away under the same lavish cut-glass chandelier.
Gif: 1920s Couple doing the Lindy Hop.
The Savoy Ballroom attracted the talents of jazz and bebop greats like Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakley, Teddy Hill, Johnny Hodges and Thelonious Monk. So great was the dance scene at the Savoy Ballroom, some of the clubs most talented dancers ended up performing in theaters across the world and in feature films.
Photo: Hodges, Johnny Savoy Ballroom (Lenox Avenue, Harlem, New York), Duke Ellington Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
The drag of the Great Depression and technological advancements in radios and record players made dancing at home and at smaller and cheaper venues more popular. The Savoy closed in 1958 and demolished in 1959 to make way for the Delano Village housing development, known today as Savoy Park. A commemorative plaque was erected in the Savoy’s memory in 2002. The ceremony was attended by swing legends Frankie Manning and Norma Miller, and enthusiast from around the world.
Plaque commemorating the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, NYC., Lukeholladay.
As we’re getting really close to The Hanging Tree, I’ve had some thoughts about how we (meaning mostly “the active Tumblr fandom” and “me, specifically”) talk about RoL and representation, which I’m gonna cut for length, but I want to get out before we get a whole lot of new canon.