10 Times Black Culture Was Appropriated In 2015

When will America learn? 😒

America loves appropriating black culture -- even when black people themselves, at times, don't receive much love from America.

From dreadlocks to dashikis, white America has taken black traditions and used them for their own gain by failing to give proper credit, ignoring historical context or blatantly perpetuating stereotypes.

2015 was no different.

This year was full of white people receiving praise for the same hairstyles people of color are looked down upon for wearing. Cultural staples were dubbed "new trends" and black people were often erased from black spaces.

The meaning of cultural appropriation has gained more attention this year, with people like Amandla Stenberg schooling the country on how harmful it can be.

"The line between cultural appropriation and cultural exchange are always going to be blurred," Stenberg said in her "Don't Cash Crop My Cornrows" video. "Appropriation occurs when a style leads to racist generalizations or stereotypes where it originated but is deemed as high fashion, cool or funny when the privileged take it for themselves. Appropriation occurs when the appropriator is not aware of the deep significance of the culture they are partaking in."

It's more than "just hair," "just clothes" or "just slang." And many times, it's the livelihood of marginalized communities, but unfortunately, America still didn't understand that this year. Take a look at 10 ways white people have appropriated black culture in 2015:

Elle U.K. thought Katy Perry inspired baby hairs
In a July article, Elle U.K. wrote that baby hair was a "new trend" that was "inspired by Givenchy and Katy Perry." The only thing new about baby hair is that its now appearing more on white celebrities. But gelling down baby hair began with the little black girls who, for decades, have had their moms slick down their edges with a brush and a jar of black gel.
Kylie Jenner's dreadlocks


A photo posted by King Kylie (@kyliejenner) on

The Jenner sister wore faux dreadlocks for a Teen Vogue cover story and she was heralded as edgy, raw and beautiful. However, when Zendaya wore the same hairstyle, at the Oscars in February, "Fashion Police" host Giuliana Rancic said she looked like she "smells like patchouli oil or weed.” Although Zendaya responded with the utmost class, this is just another example of white women being praised for the same styles black women are derided for.
Kylie Jenner's cornrows
Jenner received a lot of backlash after she posted a photo of her wearing cornrows in July. For actress Amandla Stenberg, this was her boiling point for Jenner's consistent appropriative practices. Stenberg called out Jenner for abusing black culture and not using her platform to speak out about issues plaguing the black community. Stenberg later followed up with a separate and more detailed note where she asked: “Do female black lives matter, too?”
Teen Vogue used a white model for a Senegalese twists feature
Senegalese twists are a go-to protective hairstyle among black women. Instead of using a woman of color for a feature on this style, however, Teen Vogue chose white model Phillipa Steele to showcase the look in June.
Taylor Swift's depiction of Africa in her music video
Despite part of Swift's "Wildest Dreams" video being filmed in Africa, it showed NO people of color. Instead, it featured an all-white cast that romanticized colonialism in an African country.
Elle Canada calls the dashiki the "newest it-item"
Twitter Screenshot
Elle Canada caught some major heat when they called the dashiki "the newest it-item of note," and it showed several celebrities, both white and of color, wearing the garment. When Elle called this West African garb "the new kaftan," they completely disregarded its origin and the people who've worn them for ages.
Miley Cyrus' dreadlocks
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin via Getty Images
Many people on social media deemed Cyrus' long, blond faux dreadlocks offensive when she wore them while hosting the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards. This didn't come as a surprise, as Cyrus has been accused of using black women's bodies as props in the past. Seemingly unfazed, as many of those who appropriate are (see Kylie Jenner), Cyrus has worn dreadlocks again since her VMAs gig.
Allure magazine gives white women an afro tutorial
In Allure's August issue, it presumably instructed white women on how to achieve an afro, and used a white model for the feature image. Considering how significant the afro has been to black people's identity and political history, it doesn't seen like Allure put much thought into how offensive this could come off.
Jeff Kravitz/MTV1415 via Getty Images
The notion of mainstream media snatching up black lingo and running it into the ground isn't new. But when the word "squad" became synonymous with Taylor Swift's inconsistent friend group and not a Waka Flocka Flame ad lib, it was downright insulting. The number of squad goalexplainer articles without a mention of the word stemming from black slang is just... UGH!
Rachel Dolezal’s entire existence
Rachel Dolezal is the icing on top of the appropriation cake. After her white parents exposed her for trying to pass as black, the former NAACP chapter president told Matt Lauer that she identifies as black. Despite her curly hairstyles and bronze complexion -- in comparison to her 16-year-old appearance -- Dolezal said she wasn't trying to be deceitful. Dolezal has been criticized for effectively using blackface to pass as black for her own agenda.

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