I believe that there is an incredibly large double standard between black women and white women. It is often shown throughout white women appropriating black culture (wearing or doing things that are “cool” but wouldn’t be if black women had done it).
Take, for example, “twerking.” Twerking is one of the newer and longer dance trends that are still around behind the Milly Rock and The Whip. Twerking is something you either hate or love, whether it’s doing it or watching someone else do it. But let’s be honest for a second: What is twerking? Twerking is defined by Wikipedia as “dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance.” The actual term “twerking” comes from New Orleans’ early 1990s bounce scene popularized by New Orleans’ own Big Freedia.
Twerking derives from the dance style of Mapouka, from southeast Cote d’Ivoire and traditionally by people of Aizi, Alladian and Avikam decent. For centuries, this dance has been popular in certain societies of southeast Cote d’Ivoire. An Progressive Pupil Blog article titled “African Origins of Twerking” describe Mapouka as “a celebratory dance for festivals by Africans and was widely accepted because people believed that this dance led to encounters with God.” At the same time, no matter how spiritual it was the Mapouka to the people of Africa, it was seen as being to “sexual and provocative”. In the Cote d’ivoire, the government banned Mapouka from television due to its “vulgarity.” As ridiculous as that suppression is, my former high school has done little better.
Madison West High School, which has a 46 percent minority population, surrounds itself with a “diverse” and “inclusive” veneer, and still only get one of those right. The school is diverse, with a mix of many different cultures and ethnicities, but does not always feel inclusive.
For example, West has a dance team, and also had a consistent drill team until 2013. The dance team consisted of predominantly white girls while the drill team was all black girls. Although the drill team calls themselves the drill team, they still are mainly dancers. The dance team has always done wide ranges of dance styles from salsa to ballet, until recently they’d been mostly focusing on hip-hop. The dance team has twerked in their routines on multiple occasions in leotards and spandex to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”s and a lot of early 2000’s rap songs. No one ever thought that is was “inappropriate” or “provocative” when they do it.
Meanwhile, the drill team was denied the opportunity on multiple occasions to perform at school activities such as sporting events because their dancing was too “inappropriate” and “provocative” and that parents were complaining about it as well.. What makes it inappropriate and provocative? Twerking.
The same double-standard exists when it comes to attire. White women who wear short shorts and crop tops are empowered. Black women who wear shorts and crop tops are detrimental to society. Is it because they are more curvy?
As we obviously see throughout social media and other news outlets, and even outside of our homes, social culture IS black culture. Wearing two french braids to the back of my head is trendy when Kim K. wears it, but no matter how popular it is in my community, it will always be “hood” when we do it. Latina and black women have been being called ghetto since the beginning of time for wearing large hoop earrings while being appropriated by white women who are seen as being “fashionable” or “hip”. It’s even the same with clothes. Now I think it’s pretty obvious that generally, black women tend to be fuller and curvier than white women, and that how some things that fit Beyonce may fit Taylor Swift a lot differently. I can guarantee you that whoever “wore it best” would be based on two conclusions: because of body shape/type, or simply because of their race and or culture. On many occasions, I have experienced being belittled for what I’ve worn while my white counterpart would have her buttcheeks hanging out the bottom of her high waisted shorts and be ignored.
Administration at Madison West has asked me to make me change my half-shirts because they appear to be “distracting to boys”. Yes, they really said that. On most occasions, white girls can freely wear “booty shorts”, half shirts, and even bralets without getting targeted by administration — not surprising, considering that they aren’t administration’s target to begin with. On most occasions, as a student of color at West, you cannot walk through the halls without being targeted by administration. Most if not all of my black friends have experienced this, and we can’t really pinpoint why.
So the obvious point that I am trying to make here is that even if you don’t have intentions to be racist, it can still happen in the name of cultural appropriation. If you are confused as to why people see a problem with how you dress or the manner that you act in, and that they receive a different reaction towards it than yourself, it’s probably because you’re appropriating culture. If you do this or know someone else who does, you are now informed on why it’s wrong and can pass on this message. If you really want to be apart of the solution to a problem in society, it is your job as an ally to a movement to address your wrong doings and also address the wrongdoing of others. Don’t be a contributor to the oppression and dehumanization of black women.