In a time where blacks are being killed at the hands of authorities at an astronomical rate and the hashtag #blacklivesmatters reigns supreme, it’s impossible not to feel the discord between America and black people….but not our culture. Also moving at an astronomical rate is what some are calling “cultural rape” and the rise of culture vultures who only look to take from black culture while failing to appreciate or credit it for the trends that white America grab ahold of every day. From hair styles to facial features, it’s impossible not to notice America’s obsession with black culture. But that isn’t the problem. What bothers most of us is the misappropriation and lack of attribution.
Braids and locs, which are staples of black culture, are only acceptable and trendy when worn by non-blacks. Black actress and model Zendaya Coleman received backlash for rocking faux locs on a red carpet while non-black Kylie Jenner’s faux loc look was called edgy and fashionable. In it’s August 2015 issue, EBONY Magazine delves into the clear distinction between America’s relationship with black people versus it’s relationship with black culture.
The magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, Kierna Mayo, penned a letter to share the behind the scenes details and thought process behind the controversial issue. Check out a few excerpts from her letter below.
On the events that took place during the making of the issue
During the making of this issue, the following happened to have happened: Nine beautiful Black people were gunned down in cold blood, in Charleston, S.C., while in church, while studying the Bible—just for being Black. Nine beautiful Black people’s families faced their loved ones’ White alleged killer and said to him—and the world—you are forgiven. Days later, President Barack Obama performed the eulogy for the most well-known of the dead, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was also a beloved state senator. Delivering a word on the subject of grace, the POTUS was apparently enraptured by the spirit in the room and had what some called his “Blackest Moment Ever.” Not only did he indict America for the inclination to hire “Johnny” over “Jamal,” but the president also led the congregation in singing the old hymn “Amazing Grace.”
On taking a break from celebritydom and entertainment for this issue
So for this issue, we chose to take a slight pause from Black celebrity and all the hoopla that often comes with that, and reset our gaze on our most serious times. To do this, we knew we had to focus on three central ideas: Black wealth (play our financial game “Started From the Bottom…,” pg. 88); Black power (read our report on Black media, pg. 90); and Black respect (return to Ferguson, Mo., to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown Jr.’s tragic death, pg. 104).”
Read Kierna’s entire letter here and pick up EBONY magazine’s “America Loves Black Culture” issue on newstands now.