Supermodel, Leomie Anderson has become a regular in fashion news headlines for her very vocal nature about the lack of diversity, knowledge and inclusion of Blacks in the fashion industry and beauty culture. Recently, Anderson did and interview with Viacom for their International Women’s Day event in which she voiced her opinion about cultural appropriation and Kim K’s “boxer braids” (cornrows) and African influence portrayed on the runways.
Though some may argue that cultural appropriation is a baseless topic or oppressive in nature, in an age where “authenticity” and “free speech” are praised everywhere from the barbershop to Capitol Hill, it is worth noting that the entire premise of the appropriation topic is not to shun people who wish to imitate or draw inspiration from other culture. Rather, the goal of starting the appropriation conversation is to bring awareness to the notion and irony that various cultures in the American landscape are discredited and overlooked in the scope of American culture even though celebrities, mainstream media and pop culture have obviously deemed said cultures as a (closet) muse.
The argument of appropriation is as relevant for Black culture as it is for the appropriation of Asian, Hispanic/Latino and Indian culture. It has become common place for celebs to be credited with making trendy that which is inspired by other cultures without drawing attention to the culture of origin and thus limiting the opportunity to generate interest in another culture’s practices and broadening a general sense of cultural awareness, which America (and the world as a whole) could certainly use a lot more of. So, call it what you wish “unimportant,” “oppressive politics” or otherwise, but change of any kind begins with an identification of error and a conversation about what could be done to better the situation.