Kylie Jenner might just be one of the most divisive celebrities around at the moment, and it’s not hard to see why. She comes from a controversial, fame-addicted family, she’s not opposed to showing off her cleavage on a regular basis, she pretended that her lips naturally grew three times their size, and she was totally probably in a relationship with a mediocre rapper while she was underage. Aside from that last bit–sorry, I’m not down for possible statutory rape—I really don’t give a damn. Who cares about the fact that she’s on a reality show or wants to show off her boobs? Not me, and frankly, neither should you.
Here’s what I do care about: The racist BS she’s pulled and has gotten away with recently.
Today, people are (rightfully) having a fit over this birthday cake that Kylie’s friend, Jordyn Woods received:
In case you can’t see the photo for whatever reason, I’ll let you in on what it says: “Happy birthday, nigga!” Whether or not Kylie was somehow involved in the creation of this cake is unclear. But a little Instagram and Snapchat snooping confirms that she was participating in the birthday festivities that day and was there as the cake was presented.
Every black person has their own opinion on the N-word. Personally, my position is this: it’s something for black folks to use, and only black folks can discuss whether or not it should be used. I don’t care about what a non-black person thinks of it, and I don’t want to hear it coming out of their mouth. Either way, I get a little grossed out when black folks are cool with their white friends using the term. It’s corny at best, but I can’t imagine how many people are going to see something like that cake and think it’s okay to call their black friend the N-word. And, frankly, a world where Kylie Jenner is happily calling black folks “my nigga” disturbs the crap out of me.
As frustrating as this cake drama is, I can’t say that I’m surprised. I always sort of feel like I’m waiting for the next racist Kylie drama to pop off, and there’s some pretty good precedence for that.
Remember back in April when she–along with Justin Bieber and big sis Kendall–were in a Vine video that was literally about them fetishizing black men?
I get that this was supposed to be funny, but as a black woman, I’m not laughing. There’s a long history of black bodies being fetishized as sex machines first and human dead last. Black men have been used as a threat to precious white womanhood for centuries. You can even check out a disgustingly racist, yet iconic, movie called Birth Of A Nation that depicts this dynamic, and that was made way back in 1915. In the film, an intimidating black man was basically attempting to rape an innocent white woman; she jumped off a cliff to escape his clutches.
But when this scary black man trope isn’t used to scare white people to death, its used to titillate them. Fast forward to 2015, and people still get all worked up about white women sleeping with black men, because it’s still a taboo that is attached to this idea that black men are scary sex maniacs with big penises, and white women are pure and innocent. Have you ever stumbled into the interracial porn category of a porn website? Notice how many videos are dedicated to black men having sex with white women. Think about how the grotesque video titles accompanying the equally grotesque thumbnails play on the frightening black man trope.
Now, watch that video again, and tell me that this stereotype isn’t being reinforced? Yuck.
Okay, you’re probably thinking, “Well, that wasn’t all Kylie!” True, it wasn’t. But this was:
Kylie Jenner’s cornrows put a bad taste in the mouth of just about every woke black girl on the planet. Why? Because this was another lazy case of cultural appropriation. Cornrows are a hair style that is deeply rooted in black communities everywhere. I mean, I got cornrows on a regular basis for most of my elementary school years. You’d be hard pressed to find a black girl–or boy–who didn’t have cornrows at some point of their life.
With that said, the hair style–and many other hairstyles associated with afro-textured hair–isn’t without controversy. Kids have been kicked out of school for having braids, black service women have gotten in trouble by the army for rocking twists, people have been called ghetto for rocking these braids. So for Kylie Jenner–white girl–to rock them, it felt like a slap in the face. Sure, it’s just hair. Sure, she probably liked the way they looked. But it’s unfair that a hairstyle that can be the cause of derision on black people is cute and unthreatening on Kylie because she’s a white chick.
I’m going to repeat a very famous quote by comedian Paul Mooney: “Everybody wanna be a nigga, but nobody wanna be a nigga.”
As many of us know, actress Amandla Stenberg commented on why the cornrows were problematic, to which Kylie replied, “Mad if I do, Mad if I don’t … Go hang w Jaden or something.”
I’m sure that some people are going to read this post and see it as an attack on Kylie. Well, look at it as an attack if you want, but it’s really just holding somebody accountable for their BS. Again, I don’t care about what bikini Kylie wears, or what color she dyes her hair, or how sexy she decides to be on Snapchat. Most media outlets and observers might, but that’s not hurting anyone. Perpetuating racist stereotypes, dismissing a valid critique of her appropriation, and happily celebrating a cake that says “nigga” on it? That’s what’s worthy of critique, not how heavy her contouring is.
If teenagers and young adults are old enough to experience racism, then teenagers and young adults are old enough to deal with the consequences of being racist. So call me when we’re ready to stop letting her get away with more of this nonsense. Until then, I’ll just wait for the next shoe to drop.
Do you think that people are too hard on Kylie Jenner? Do you think she’s being racist or being clueless?Tell us in the comments!