Tag Archives: race

Last Tuesday morning I announced to my Facebook friends that I would be going to see John Mayer in concert and that I was excited. Instead of my friends joining in my excitement, I got reposes like: “You know John Mayer hates black people” and “well his penis does”.

The “killjoy” has arrived.

by Bianca Clendenin

by Bianca Clendenin

These comments and others are just some of the responses I got when I first announced I bought these tickets back in September on Tumblr. All my fierce black revolutionary social justice tumblrs were like, don’t know the terrible things he has said and done?

Of course I do. Of course I’m aware of John Mayer’s problematic comments. For one, I am fan, and two I’m not oblivious to his comments. For anyone who isn’t aware of the comments I’m talking about, his comments on the his racial preference when it comes to the opposite sex.

As a young black woman, I was disgusted. Though these were jokes, there is still this gross underlining racism that is still entangled in people who have “racial preferences” when it comes to dating. Right now these comments are almost 4 years old, and anyone who was following pop culture at the time knew that John Mayer was a PR disaster. Everything out of his mouth was just terrible. His personal life was messy, and as public figure it was for the world to pick and prod. This could lead anyone to have word diarrhea. Unlike you and me, we don’t always get publicly outed and shamed for are comments. Unless your comments go viral, like Justine Sacco racist tweet that took the world by storm almost two weeks ago. Thanks to social media, it’s easier to be dragged out online and for the world to see. You may even lose your job over things you post on the social media. Just ask Justine Sacco.

Now I’m not excusing for his comments or his past behavior. As a fan I’m aware and always conflicted. When our “favs” do something problematic or we supposed to stop supporting them or do we acknowledge that these people are just as flawed as us?

No one can really answer this question. I think of this Tumblr blog called, Your Fave is Problematic. A blog that calls out celebrities and lists everything wrong they’ve ever done (or at least what they’ve had done in the public eye). Blogs like this are educational because one, people can learn that the celebrities they look up are not God and that they are flawed just like you and me. And it makes you think twice about the people you idolize.

However one my biggest problems with blogs like this, is that now that you know everything wrong “you fave” has done. Now what? Your Fave tries to answer this question(s):

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 10.36.25 AM

So according to this, I can still like John Mayer, but I can’t come up with excuses for his behavior and as real fan I need to educate other fans on his behavior. Check, plus check.

Here is list of celebrities created by Your Fave is Problematic.

My second question however is, when does it become unforgiving to like something or someone?

I think of two major celebrities that have been in the news or blogosphere lately. R.Kelly’s alleged exploits of being a sexual predator on teenager girls, was all over the news again. At first it was a bit weird that people were surprised of all the allegations he had against him. This is the same man who was married to singer Aaliyah when she was only 15. It’s interesting how casually folks still bring this tad bit of information up, but people rarely question that this was a predatory move.

The general public tends to have a short term memory when it comes to our celebrities, especially when it comes to the abuse of women. For the first time in years R. Kelly is getting mainstream success, thanks for his collaboration with pop start Lady Gaga and his buzzworthy new album ‘Black Panties’. He’s hot right now. Now we can’t deny that talent of R. Kelly, but is his alleged abuse of young black teenage girls enough to ignore because he is talented? Do we give him a pass and still support his music?

I ask the same about Ani Difranco. A popular singer songwriter whose music is seen as bible for many young queer feminists. In high school I was obsessed with her music, especially when I went through my acoustic guitar phase. Difranco and her fans are in hot water, after she announced on her Facebook page that she will be hosting her Righteous Retreat Song Camp next year at the Nottoway Plantation in Louisiana. Considered a feminist songwriting retreat, it frustrating to see another blatant example of “white feminism” excluding the intersectionally of what true feminism is about.

Yesterday, the controversy took to Facebook, as fans debated over the location of the event. Even one alleged fan defending the location. There’s even allegations of a fan creating a fake account and posing as a black woman who agrees with the supporters of the location. From what I’ve read so far, there are a lot of messy allegations, but at the root of it all are that many people are upset with the choice of the venue. It has also bought to light the contemporary history of plantations being used as hotels and whether this is racially insensitive.

Ani Difranco has yet to issue statement, but it makes me wonder what will be her excuse that she or her organizers thought it was ok to have this suppose feminist gathering at a former slave plantation?

Here is another person I liked and at one point looked up too, and here they are doing something that I definitely don’t agree with.

But as a fan, we acknowledge that the entertainers we like can and will be problematic. No one you truly like, love, or stan for will be perfect. Even Beyoncé has her slip ups. If we stopped liking every problematic thing, there would be nothing to like.


Last night my mother called me into the room to ask me if I’ve heard of this new deadly trend amongst young women the 10 o’clock news likes you to believe.

“Have you’ve heard of this? Girls are trying to achieve a thigh gap!? These magazines are airbrushed and edit photos so that can make it seem like they have a thigh gap.”

Screen Shot of Google Search of 'Thigh Gap'

Screenshot of Google Search of ‘Thigh Gap’

I sighed a little, “Yeah I’ve heard of this, but it’s not a trend. If anything this story is bogus.”

“But this is on the news, they wouldn’t report on it if it wasn’t a serious thing.”

Smirking at her, I went on a mini 10 minute rant saying buzzwords like “generational gap”, “culture of fear”, and “internet hoaxes that turn to cultural phenomenons”.

Of course my parents probably don’t pay half attention to what I say because I always have something to say about everything. What they and many people in their age group don’t understand is that whenever some controversy story hits the news that deals with today’s youth, there’s always a hint of paranoia to it. It’s the Baby Boomers and Generation X’s way of trying to understand us Millennial Kids. Kinda like their active use of works like selfie and twerk. They’re trying to be hip, but essentially it just pushes the disfranchise youth further away.

Our recent obsession with Thigh Gaps has addressed important issues many women face. Body Issues, illness like Anorexia, and extreme body dysmorphic disorder.

I’m not denying that there isn’t an issue. A quick search on Tumblr has led me to the proana and thinspo part of Tumblr. It shows the bleak reality of some young women and men who strive for a thigh gap, even if it may kill them. My question lies, when did Thigh Gaps become such a strong desire and is the media to blame?

Screenshot of Thigh Gap search on Tumblr.

Screenshot of Thigh Gap search on Tumblr.

Which comes to my point of our society’s obsession with living in fear.

One of my earliest memories of college was my one of the first classes I ever attended at Purchase.

It was an 8:30 College Writing course with my learning community, which in reality I wasn’t supposed to even be in. During my senior year of high school I took College English, so I could avoid taking the class in college and to have some credits under my belt. However I was placed in Advanced College English, which in reality just meant the same English course the rest of my learning community was in.

Freshman year they place you in learning communities so it can be easier to make friends. Our learning community focused mostly on the Mass Media. This interests me because as at budding journalists, I felt this was the closes community to my major. Everyone in my suite had the same class, so we were able to essentially create our own little community. Thus the name fits.

I fondly remember my first professor. He was this short buggy eyed white guy who always looked exhausted and perpetually anxious. He was fairly laid back and treated us like adults. He was a stickler for being on time. So showing up late was out of the question.

The class ended up being one of my most memorable classes. Besides the fact that we were small tight-knit group that not only all lived together on the same floor, but we also shared similar beliefs. Some of us did butt heads, but that’s college.

I can say most of my time in undergrad was spent reading or half reading books I barely remember, The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things by Barry Glassner was a book I still quote to this day.

This book dispelled a lot beliefs I had about our culture, like the threat of people putting razor blades or poison in children’s candy during Halloween. It is nothing more than a few isolated incidents that became an annual scare feast for parents. Til this day there’s at least one story during Halloween about how parents should check their children’s candy for hazardous items.

Which leads me to my second story. The recent exposure of the “Knockout Game”. Another trendy story my mother bought to my attention. Unlike the Thigh Gap phenomenal, The Knockout Game was news to me.

The Knockout Game, according to Urban Dictionary, is a game that “urban youth” are part of in which they knockout unsuspecting victims, usually white and in some cases are Jewish. Urban Youth is just a politically correct way of say black kids and a less racist way of saying Nigger.

Death and Taxes did an amazing editorial  titled “Supposed ‘knockout game’ is just a new name for an old racist panic” in-which they looked into similar trends in recent history that ended up being “white panic” rather than actual trends.

For example, with the Central Park 5 case, a landmark case in which five young black and Latino teenagers were arrested and charged for the rape and beating of a young white woman started white paranoia in the 80s in New York City. This idea of ‘wilding’, similar to the Knockout Game, where mostly black youth would supposedly attack innocent white people. Sounds familiar? Just another attempt to paint black and brown men as animals and criminals.

However with all the media panic on the game, there hasn’t been any actual proof that this game even exist.

Via The New York Times:

Yet police officials in several cities where such attacks have been reported said that the “game” amounted to little more than an urban myth, and that the attacks in question might be nothing more than the sort of random assaults that have always occurred.

And in New York City, police officials are struggling to determine whether they should advise the public to take precautions against the Knockout Game — or whether in fact it existed.

“We’re trying to determine whether or not this is a real phenomenon,” Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said on Friday. “I mean, yes, something like this can happen. But we would like to have people come forward and give us any information they have.”

Yet we have folks like CNN’s Don Lemon participating in the media frenzy by “teaching” people how they can protect themselves.


Watch the video:

So like the question I proposed for the thigh gap trend, is the Knockout Game really a trend or a reality the media is eventually going to try to make true?

We do know that violent crimes happen everyday and in all major cities. There’s no denying the fact that these crimes are happening. However proposing that these crimes fall in a pattern, when in reality they are isolated incidents perpetuated by criminals. Why are we so quick to call it a trend?

Because that is the epitome of living in a culture of fear.

Being black in the suburbans is a story that rarely gets told in mainstream media. The Cosby Show was one of the better depictions we have of the black middle class family. The 90s had a slew of black sitcoms that depicted black middle class families. We also had a few depictions of young black women from these backgrounds. Movies like Clueless and She’s All That, had prominent young black women who in a sense were playing second fiddle to their white costars, but they still made their presence known. They were fierce, fabulous, and outspoken teenage girls who had a wardrobe to kill for and the looks to pull it off. Much respect to Stacy Dash and Gabriella Union for playing some of the coolest teenage girls on the silver screen in the 90s.

On television, characters like Moesha (played by Brandy) and Angela (Boy Meets World), gave a glimpse of the life of middle class teenage black girls. That essentially they were just as normal as any of the hundreds of white girls that have been plastered on our TV sets for decades.

One of my first posts on here was deconstructing a popular 90s cartoon show, today I will be deconstructing a popular 90s teenage drama known as Dawson’s Creek. I’m sorry that I’m falling in the stereotype of kids born in the 90s obsessed with the 90s. Currently working at home and dealing with life post college, I have a lot of time to watch TV shows and movies on Netflix and write about whatever I want. What I want to write about today is about the black girls perspective living in suburban America.

What really inspired me to write about this topic was the Atlantic’s article, Black Boys Have An Easier Time Fitting in At Suburban Schools than Black Girls. It really struck a chord with me because looking back at my high school experience, it wasn’t always easy. Sure we’re all dealing with angst when we are teenagers, but when race and gender get tied in it can make going through puberty excruciating.

“But recent research published in the American Sociological Association’s Sociology of Education journal shows that my gender (male) was one of the determinative factors in the relative ease of my social integration. In an article published last year, Megan M. Holland, a professor at the University of Buffalo and a recent Harvard Ph.D., studied the social impact of a desegregation program on the minority students who were being bussed to a predominantly white high school in suburban Boston. She found that minority boys, because of stereotypes about their supposed athleticism and “coolness,” fit in better than minority girls because the school gave the boys better opportunities to interact with white students. Minority boys participated in sports and non-academic activities at much higher rates. Over the course of her study, she concluded that structural factors in the school as well as racial narratives about minority males resulted in increased social rewards for the boys, while those same factors contributed to the isolation of girls in the diversity program.”

From personal experience, this is true. My brother and cousin had an easier time navigating high school than I did. Unless you ‘assimilate’ yourself with white teenage suburban culture aka “act white”, you’ll have a hard time fitting in. You”ll then be labeled an oreo or the whitest black person. All throughout high school comments like this was thrown my way. Especially since I was mostly in honor or college level courses, I was propped up as a good ‘negress’ and considered ‘above the average’. Comments like that created a lot of confusion with identity issues. Being of mixed race, these skewed notions of blackness and whiteness we have seriously pigeon hold us as a society. The way one speaks, dresses, or hobbies they like shouldn’t measure in with their racial identity. However as we all know teenagers have a hard time not placing judgement on their peers.

It was like had to choose between two one sided ideas of being a young black girl. I was either asked to be more ‘hood’ or ‘ghetto’ or be a black white girl. There was no in-between, that is until I started forget the so called “racial rules” we have in place.

Yet most of my friends were of color. Growing up I attended two different high schools and both of my major friend groups were extremely diverse. We could of been the UN with how many backgrounds we represented in our little cliques. It made for for an smoother transition, from confused high schooler to self assured college student, but it wasn’t easy.

One of my earliest memories I have from my high school years was when I was awarded for being both black and smart. During my freshmen year at my first high school, I and three other students were given an award for being the smartest and most active black students in our high school. Of course there was already only about ten of us to begin with, and that didn’t mean we were the smartest, but it meant with had the highest GPA.

Out of the four of us, I was the only girl. Including myself and two other boys, we were technically biracial or multiracial, so it seemed getting this award of being both black and smart was humbling but also strange. Never in my life was I pin pointed because of my intelligence and my race in such an obvious manner. Mostly because up until this point I went to school with people who looked a little like me. If I got awards for having good grades it was because I did well in school, not because I was the little black girl who did well in school. At 15 I had to process that because of my achievement in school, I would get treated differently because of my race and my gender.

There was an award ceremony that took place at the local community college. My parents and brother attended. When I got there I realized how much of monopoly my award was. Schools all over the district had students awarded. 10, 20, even 30 students at a time for different schools were given the same award. So when it was time for my high school to be awarded, it was almost sad to see the four of us up on that stage. Granted our school was small and at the time the ratio to white and black students was low, but it felt odd. All these other schools had tons of kids to award, and here I was the only black girl and three other black boys representing our entire school’s black race. It was daunting, it was frustrating, it was kinda cool, but also had so much weight that it took me until just now to realize that moment would sum up my entire experience in high school. Probably my entire experience in life.

So how does this tie in with Dawson’s Creek? The answer is, everything.

Currently on the sixth and final season, I realize the lack of people of color on the show, well at least in their main cast. There’s Joey’s sister Bessie and her black boyfriend. They end up having a baby together. Her boyfriend, Boatie, is rarely seen in the first couple of seasons. I also have a theory that Joey, played by Katie Holmes, is actually biracial, but they hide this because she has the ability to pass for white. Also because as progressive as they think their town is, they felt like exposing the truth about her race would only be one more thing against her.

For some reason I always felt like the character of Joey could of been black or biracial, however I can see why the creators of the show would never do this because she would of essentially been a stereotype. Hey, if there’s a theory that Jay Gatsby could be black, this is totally plausible. Maybe I’ll defend my theory another day.

Then there was Principal Green and his daughter, Nikki.

I think the introduction of Bianca Lawson’s character, Nikki Green was important. I was sadden they didn’t have her character arc on a bit longer. Not only was she’s the principal’s daughter, she was the epitome of black girl excellence. Not only did she show up Dawson at the film festival, she sort of destroyed his perfect cinematic Steven Spielberg is the greatest director of all time lily white world. It was her talent that eclipsed him, and damn near stopped him from making films all together. It was also her budding friendship and healthy rivalry that gave him the inspiration to truly find himself. Loving films wasn’t going to make him a great filmmaker, but also loving life was.

One can argue that she played the “magical negress” in the series, almost a manic pixie dream girl to the already romantic dreamer that was Dawson Leary, but her presence seemed important to me. We Nikki’s of the world have to be twice as good as our white male counterparts. Papa Pope [of Scandal fame] powerful quote echoes in the homes of many overachieving black kids:

Rowan: Did I not raise you for better? How many times have I told you? You have to be what?

Olivia: Twice as good.

Rowan: You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have.

After that episode premiered, every black person I know who watches the show said that quote was their life mantra. I call this The Nikki Greene Effect.

Being a black girl in suburbia is not only just about worrying about academic achievements and striving for excellence, but also worrying about safety.

Currently my high school’s district is entangled in controversy over alleged Anti-Semitic slurs and insults to their Jewish student population. A few Jewish families are suing the district for allegedly doing nothing when their children complained about bulling and anti-Semitic remarks. The story was published in The New York Times, giving my small-town high school in upstate New York national attention and painting the image that the town is Anti-Semitic.

Having only lived in Pine Bush for six years, I’m aware of the racist history the area had. Once a safe haven for the Klu Klux Klan, I’ve had teachers who have taught some of the children who’s father was a major leader in the group.

I can attest, that during my time in high school, I don’t remember ever having to deal with any outright racism. Some racial profiling and discrimination by local police (another story for another day) here and there. Once a little kid called my brother a racial slur on the bus, but he had no idea what it meant. However that doesn’t mean there are folks in my town that don’t hold prejudice attitudes. This story is ongoing and filled with a lot of missing pieces.

Then there’s an even more deadly aspects of being a black girl in suburbia; the untimely death of Renisha McBride.

19-year old Renisha McBride was shot and killed in Detroit on November 2nd when she was seeking help after being involved in a car accident. According to a toxicology report, there was both alcohol and marijuana in her system. That her blood-alcohol level was about 0.22, more than twice the legal limit for driving.

She was in a predominately white neighborhood on the outskirts of Detroit when she was killed.

The man in question, Theodore Wafer, was charged with manslaughter on Friday.

This story echoes much like the Trayvon Martin case. Quickly gaining national attention, the family of Renisha McBride want justice and supporters are calling this a racially motivated crime.

Her story is a remainder that black women are not always safe in our suburban towns. Just being black in the “wrong” neighborhood could cost you your life. We don’t just have to worry about if our peers don’t think we’re as smart as them or think we’re pretty enough, we have to think about will I be called a nigger to my face or will I be shot for walking in the ‘wrong’ neighborhood?

We Nikki’s of the world will collide into many Dawson Leary’s during our time. We will challenge them in ways they never could thought were possible. We may befriend some of them. We may fall in love with some of them. We may work for them, we may even have them work for us.

We must also remember that we Nikki’s can also be Renisha. We may not be perfect, but we deserve to live.

Like many people, I consider myself a big Law & Order fan. I will sit there and watch a Marathon on USA all day even if I’ve already seen the episode a million times already.

I can recite the opening dialogue perfectly.

I like to guess the plot twists early on.

And I feel like I’m one of the only people that was happy that Olivia and Elliot never got together. I cherish their platonic relationship. It meant that men and women can coexist together and love one another without jumping into bed.

I’m also one of many people who were upset to see Elliot leave.

However I’ve been happy with the new faces in the last couple of seasons. Amanda and Nick have been good editions to the show. And so has the new ADA.

Law & Order was actually really good tonight. One of the stronger episodes I’ve seen in awhile with tonight’s “October Surprise”.

It was also pretty diverse. It mostly focused on the ADA Rafael Barba (played by Raul Esparza) and his former childhood friend who is also running for NYC mayor (and in this fictional world would be the 1st Hispanic mayor). They grew up together, and both wanted to leave their low income areas to become successes. Barba becoming a lawyer and now the ADA and his friend running for Mayor.

There was a lot of spanish being spoken and a lot of brown faces. To me, this was great. To see more people of color on television is always a great thing, especially if it’s a show I love.

I know NBC Universal bought a major Spanish speaking network and are trying to diversified their Network (especially in the Latino department). 

Tonight’s episode dealt with race, class, culture, ethnically, and ‘passing’ (i.e passing for white). The storyline similar to the Anthony Weiner situation seemed like just a backdrop. But the political scandal of it all ties in all of these topics quite nicely.

So I give my applause to them. I was expecting a corny ripoff of Weiner, when in reality I got a fleshed out episode about friendship and loyalty, with race and class used as a tension filled backdrop.

Two Sundays ago when Nina Davuluri of New York won Miss America, the racist backlash on social media sites like Twitter was not surprising.

Miss Davuluri is the first Indian-American to win Miss America. Exactly 30 years ago Vanessa Willaims for the first black woman to win.

Crystal Lee, Miss California, was the runner up was also Asian-American.

However on September 15th Miss America was called anything, but her new title. People went to twitter to discuss their hate for the 24 year-old winner. Comments like, “And the Arab wins Miss America. Classic.” or “9/11 was 4 days ago and she gets miss America?

Or even the most grotesque by comparing her to the terrorist’s group Al Queda, “Miss America is a terrorist. Whatever. It’s fine.

These tweets and more only show that many racist Americans don’t know the different between someone who is Arab and Indian and that they love linking terrorism and 9/11 to things that have nothing to do with one another.

People forget that the internet is written in ink. Once you put it out there, it’s kinda hard for it to be erased.

Another image that got circulated around a lot that night was this:

#MissKansas a real miss America ” @nateypoo14 this is why everyone is freaking out over #MissAmerica

To be honest, I forget how big pageants are America. With shows like Toddlers and Tiaras and Honey Boo Boo, beauty pageants are as American as apple pie.

However American is code for white by many people. Use I am technically American, but society pictures an young American girl as blonde, blue, just fresh out of college working where she is. Not me and not Nina Davuluri.

This got me to thinking about the concept of the girl next door.

According to Urban Dictionary, The Girl Next Door is someone who is “someone you could bring home to your parents”or a “sweet, virginal, pure girl who you always admired, but could never actually go up too.”

I most admit The Girl Next Door concept is problematic because it place the Madonna/Whore complex on women. That women can only be one way or another, either prude or a whore. However woman of color rarely have the opportunity to be placed on such a pedestal. They are usually overly criticized, objectified, and sexualized. So being seen as “pure” or “virginal” is usually out of the question.

Women like Nina Davuluri could never been seen as the girl next door in a mainstream concept, even though she has the qualities of one. Miss America is supposed to uphold this idea. A beautiful, smart, and sweet unattainable woman. However her “otherness” cancels this out.

Her racial and ethnic background shouldn’t exclude her from this term (in reality we shouldn’t put such general labels on anyone) or from her being America. Racists White Americans forget that America is melting pot and that there is no one way to be American.

Julie Chen revealed on the daily talk show “The Talk” that she had undergo surgery to enlarge her Asian eyes. Chen, an American news anchor and and producer for CBS. She has done everything from CBS Early News to Big Brother.

While working as a local news reporter in Dayton, Ohio, Chen’s boss allegedly told her that she would never sit at the anchor desk due to her Chinese heritage. ” ‘Let’s face it Julie, how relatable are you to our community? How big of an Asian community do we have in Dayton?’ ” she recalled him saying. ” ‘On top of that, because of your Asian eyes, sometimes I’ve noticed that when you’re on camera and you’re interviewing someone, you look disinterested. You look bored.’ “

via The Hollywood Reporter

Here is another woman who was openly criticized for not looking American enough.

Even though she was born in Queens, New York, because she is of Chinese decent, this erases her Americaness.

When asked about her opinion on Julie Chen’s surgery, this is what Nina Davuluri had to say “Unfortunately, I don’t agree with plastic surgery, however, I can understand that from her standpoint,” she replied. “But more importantly, I’ve always viewed Miss America as the girl next door, and the girl next door is evolving as diversity in America evolves. She’s not who she was ten years ago, and she’s not going to be the same person come ten years down the road.”

Regardless of how you feel about plastic surgery, to see someone change their looks to appease people’s racial insecurities is upsetting. As someone who hopes to work on TV one day, maybe even on screen, the idea that you may have to change your natural looks to fit into a more European Beauty Standard just be successful in this line of work is frustrating to say the least.

Women like Nina Davuluri and Julie Chen, are reasons why I want to work in media. To show that woman of color come in many different molds.

We can talk about how beautiful Nina Davuluri is, but we can also talk about how smart she is. Right now she is going to use the money she won with Miss America to apply to medical school, in hopes to become a cardiologist. Davuluri graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in brain behavior and cognitive science, earning Dean’s List, Michigan Merit Award, and National Honor Society Award honors along the way.

Is she the girl next door? Maybe or maybe not. But she’s our new Miss America and she really can be whatever she wants.

“Statement Making Compton Tee”:

“N.W.A Muscle Shirt”:

“Ice Cube Cropped Sweatshirt”:

Hip-Hop has been commercialized for years now. There’s no denying that. Your parents or grandparents probably know a few Biggie or Tupac lyrics, or at least are aware of who they are.

The know Jay-Z as the rapper and the business man.

They know that people couldn’t stop talking about Kendrick Lamar’s verses on Control.

Like any other genre of music, portions of Hip-Hop is mainstream cool.

People have been complaining that hip-hop has been completely white-washed. Thanks to the popularity of rappers like Macklemore and Iggy Azalea. However you feel about them, you can’t deny the fact that in mainstream pop music they have become the faces of new hip-hop. Easily digestible for people who may not have been raised on rap and hip-hop culture. They also have crossover appeal because of their whiteness.

As someone who listens to all kinds of music, I find it refereeing to know other people who a diverse taste as well. This summer I went to an old school hip-hop show and was surrounded by a bunch of white fans who were rapping along to the MC’s like Big Daddy Kane and Naughty by Nature. Hip-hop has become universal and there’s nothing wrong with that.

However my biggest problem with Forever 21’s N.W.A shirts is because of lack of knowledge of what the words and faces on those shirts mean.

For one, N.W.A stands for Niggaz Wit Attitudes. N.W.A was popular rap group that rose in the late 80s in Compton, California. They were considered the pioneers of gangsta rap on the west coast. Their music, heavily criticized at the time for being violent, disrespectful to women, glorifying drugs and other criminal like behavior. However it was also a response to what was happening around them at the time. Drugs, crime, poverty, and violence was what consisted for people living in urban areas. They were able to take what was going on at the time and talk about it on a worldwide stage. Folks who lived in urban areas all over the the nation was able to relate. This is at it’s core what made N.W.A great and want makes them a legendary group in hip-hop.

So why can’t pretty young blonde girls not wear a N.W.A shirt? The majority of buyers at Forever 21 probably know nothing about N.W.A. The fact that the website’s models are conventionally pretty, skinny, blonde, white girls who are wearing these shirts seems ironic. A group that almost 20 years ago who would have never cater to this audience is now being sold at a store where 13-18 year old girls could spend all of their allowance.

I wonder what was going through the heads of the designers at Forever 21: How can we sale edginess and Miley Cyrus to our preteen set?

Hip-Hop and Black Culture will always be discussed and dissected. Because it’s not created in a vacuum, black people aren’t the only ones who will appreciate it. However how can we distinguish between appreciate or appropriation?

What do you guys think, do you believe Forever 21 was right for having white models wear N.W.A shirts or do you think that they should of used black models? Or do you think they should have never made the shirts in the first place?