While looking at a post saved as a draft, I hopped on twitter and came across a post that spoke a lot more eloquently about an issue that bothers me; “Ghetto fashion” and the celebration of others who emulate the culture while black women have been mocked for it. While my original post was a lot broader, “Black Girls From The Hood Are The Real Trendsetters” by Wanna Thompson focuses specifically on us; black women. I’d be lying if I said some of the aesthetics I see on social media don’t remind me of aunts, cousins, women in the hair and nail salon, etc. I saw growing up. I’d still be lying if I said it didn’t make me think about how some things are dubbed “ghetto” until, well until they are deemed fashionable by the elite. By those who may have passed by ghettos, hoods and projects but may not know what it feels like to watch their single mom miraculously create meals + experiences for her babies…or stop by the blood bank to give blood so they could have an extra $10 for their kids (hey mama). By those who think black women are at the bottom of the totem pole but freely adopt the things that come natural to us and get praised for it while we’re told by statistics, ashy men and brands that we’re worthless. I could go on and on.
As infuriating as all of this can be, I’m also staunchly more aware of the influence of black people, especially black women. It’s everywhere, whether people want to acknowledge it or not. And the best part? The best part is that black women are collectively rolling our eyes and pretty much refusing to let stale jokes or misguided anger/insecurity make us fearful of standing tall. We refuse to stay hidden, quiet and “in our place” as the so called mules of society. Although Janelle Monae may have been referencing something else, I think this line is fitting from her song “DJango Jane,“ “they been trying hard just to make us all vanish. I suggest they put a flag on a whole ‘nother planet.”
It’s taken me a long time to realize why I hated hearing things like, “you’re the perfect black girl, not too ghetto but not too white” growing up. I don’t want someone to ever feel comfortable telling me I’m a “safe” black woman or that they don’t see my color or race. No, SEE ME. Don’t erase my blackness so you can find a reason to justify the bigoted thoughts you have about black people. Don’t think it’s okay to express your grievance with “ghetto black people” as if I somehow don’t mirror any of the characteristics you think are “ghetto.” There are levels to me and just because you haven’t seen all of them doesn’t mean you get a pass to let your fear start representing for you when you decide to come for black people. And as it was spoken in Girls Trip, the colloquialisms and mannerisms you’ve picked up from rap songs, films, television shows, and books? I won’t say you can’t use them but if you do use them, be mindful of the way you treat the people where you picked these things up from. We’re a little over the whole “I’m adopting x,y,z from this culture but I don’t actually like the people in the culture attitude.” It looks like a certain kind of privilege that some people have but get upset when you say they have it and that will never be fashionable.
1. Distressed Denim Jacket x Make Me Chic
3. Black Faux Croc Heels x Simmi