on cultural appropriation and self-love

Last Thursday night I drove to LA to take a couple of dance classes. On my way to class I was walking up Hollywood Boulevard when I crossed paths with two Asian girls who had Senegalese Twists in their hair. Like, with synthetic kinky hair and shells adorning them. I had never seen this in my life; non-black non-celebrity individuals wearing a very Black hairstyle–with kinky hair at that. After witnessing this I experienced negative emotions but the fact that I was late to class ended up overriding those initial negative thoughts and I bypassed them and kept walking speedily to class focused on my tardiness. As I speedily walked up the stairs to the studio, on my way to sign in to class I crossed paths with a White girl with blonde synthetic-kinky-hair cornrows in her hair. “what?!” I thought to myself. “Is this a thing?!?” I went on to dance class 15 minutes late and it was the most amazing experience; I cried in one class. over-comer tears. On my way home I was blasting my music while singing and dancing along still on an emotional high from the experience I just had when the image of those three girls I saw before class came to my mind mid song and I burst into laughter. I thought to myself ”Their hair is as long as the synthetic hair, probably longer! Use your own hair boo you’re defeating the whole purpose!” and “They wanna be us so bad” also came to mind. But as I let the experience sink in, I was reminded of the defensiveness that my community gifts anyone who we perceive is attempting to invalidate us and our experience with. Given our experience here in the US defensiveness is totally understandable. But inevitably the defensiveness is filled with historical baggage that needs addressing and healing.

White is a color. I repeat, white is a color. Being ‘colored’ isn’t about skin tone its about which skin color society decides to exploit in order to make one people group feel better than another. Being one color versus another does not make one right or wrong good or bad—more melanin obviously is not bad since everybody is trying to be tan with a big but, big lips, big ass and now they even want to have nappy hair too!—it just makes us different. When each and everyone one of us makes an attempt to be beautiful we are emulating what ever image that we believe will give us the best opportunity to feel desired, wanted, fulfilled, complete and loved. People of all ethnic backgrounds are emulating the whole BlackQueen-BoxBraids-Cornrolls-TanSkin-BigAss-BigLips-BontuBuns trend because Black Women are just as capable of reflecting beauty as the next person. Everyone else recognizes this, but when will us Black women realize this? Wear it. When will we realize that we are just as able to be beautiful and attract love as the next? When we get upset at these cultural appropriators our messaging is “This is my only opportunity to feel pretty and be considered beautiful and you’re taking it away from me!” and that is not true. This is not our only opportunity to feel beautiful and be considered beautiful. Physical beauty might get you some attention from men but it sure as hell wont make your relationship work. It sure as hell wont make you feel fulfilled. It sure as hell wont make you feel complete and happy. Our beauty is eternal Queens. Our beauty comes from a place of peace when we realize our completion. This is true beauty and no one can take that opportunity to be beautiful away from us and everyone is attracted to it!

All anyone can do is take responsibility for ones starting point in life and play to win. I don’t want to carry historical baggage with me anymore but its not going to be shed overnight. Today I have decided to realize my equality in beauty, to take imitation for the compliment that it is and decide that what I think of me is all that matters and everything else is just a reflection of that. Today I am beautiful because I am and no one can take that opportunity away from me…except me. Today I declare that this is my truth.

-Amber B

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