Seanne N. Murray
Dear, Kardashians. Reign On. Signed, Black People.
There’s been a lot of controversy and questioning lately about the Kardashians as it relates to Black people and Black culture. We live in a very unusual and for many, probably most of us, unexpected time. We have a Black president who, as he approaches the end of his second term, is presumed by some to be letting the Black out, meaning becoming more aggressive and forth right as if somehow that puts him in the realm of a winning NBA star or award winning, though contentious, drug dealer turned rapper. If that means he’s a brilliant educated man who’s withstood adversity, has a strong belief system, maintains the sanctity of his family and is willing to sacrifice himself to put others and his objectives first (i.e. the betterment of our country), then yes, his Black flag is flying high. We live in the time of #Blacktwitter and #Blacklivesmatter, where social media hashtags are used to bring attention to bigotry, social injustice and intolerance resulting in awareness and change. We live in a time where the Confederate Flag is front and center, congregations are being murdered and Black churches are being burned to the ground. Is it 1968 and who will be the modern Dr. King? We need her stat! We also live in a time where millennials like Raven Symone prefer not to be categorized racially or sexually believing that it is not necessary or beneficial. And we live in a time where the reigning royal family of social media marketing, a family of Armenian descent (Is that considered white in America?) has an affinity toward all things Black - clothes, men, hairstyles and even nail polish! Are they appropriating or misappropriating Black culture? Are the Kardashians feigning Blackness? These are the questions that float through our minds, daily, as we look at their chemically tanned skin, sizeable asses (natural or not), cornrowed hair and plumped up lips (thanks for the truth Kylie) as displayed on every media outlet in the country. Many, including the likes of Amandla Stenberg (Is that a Jewish name? Sorry for that question, Raven.), believe that the Kardashians are utilizing the benefits of Blackness, taking advantage of those things that we find unique and appealing, while refusing to stand up for current inequities. The reality is that the Kardashians, in their oblivion, have made so-called Blackness culturally acceptable. Since their entre onto the scene Black women seem to flaunt their style and grace, their bodies, their natural hair (Don’t get me started on the topic of hair or I’ll never stop.), their lips, etc. far more freely. Keep in mind that no two Black women (or women in general, for that matter) are or look alike, that stereotypes do not hold true for any sex or race, but since this is the topic, let’s go with the flow. If it took the Kardashians to get American culture to publicly verbalize their adoration and attraction for sumptuous Black women that avoids subjugation and rape culture as cultivated via a history of slavery, then I’m all for it. Are the Kardashians using Black men to elevate themselves? This question is beyond fascinating! In a country where Black men and the business of prison are intricately linked, where unarmed Black men are executed by the police (Garner, Brown, Ford, Parker, Rice – a list too long to include them all), where my Dominican friends are pursued by Nazi’s in Miami (true story), where my Black friends are publicly shamed and ostracized on DC subways, the “N” word like a stab to throat (also a true story) this is an interesting concept. Is there some segment of the country that now considers Black men highly favored and desirable or does that only apply to ballers and shot callers? If Kanye were an uneducated, less than successful dude riding on a bicycle in Atlanta, would he be coveted and pined for? By the way, the same goes for George Clooney on a moped in Kentucky. Would Amal Alamuddin, Esq. still want him then? The bottom line is that women are drawn to what they consider successful men by whatever standard they make that assessment. It varies by location, economics, education, and social standing, etc. This is not new. What is new is that there are more Black men in the public eye that meet the standard of success as defined primarily by the media. And let’s get real, Black men are sexy as f*ck and always have been. That cat is securely out of the bag and so, the Kardashians being who and what they represent are reaching for the stars. Can you blame them? Are they using Black men? If you want to recognize that they’ve tapped into a pool of power, commitment, sensuality, love, confidence, vision, etc. Then yes, Black men are being used and I am happy (though perhaps this was best kept a secret for Black women) that the news has hit the press. Black men are awesome! So, if American and world wide attention to and affirmation of the charisma, beauty and appeal of Black people, women and men, is the side effect of the Kardashian eminence, then I’m all for it! Reign on!
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