Winne Harlow posted the following on Instagram today giving her raw version of how she viewed cultural appropriation, read below:
I agree & am knowledgeable to these things. & by all means I get it. But It’s one thing to recreate my skin & wear a crown in a photo, & it’s another to recreate my face & then wear a noose (which is not the case). There is a difference in love vs hate & it’s easy to see.
There’s this fine line between stealing & showing appreciation or seeing that something’s are being accepted by the world.
There are things that have been taken without recognition (from Art, to culture, to language and beyond and from many races including our own), this is not one of them.
One big comment I saw on my post was “u can’t play both sides” but it’s that same mentality that keeps us stagnant, sitting in the same mind frame as our predecessors who dealt with things that are & can come to an end if we could Really see each other as equals, & not just claim we do.
I proudly stand on the Gray Line that blurs black from white. I am happily a mix of many races and creeds! I am of African, Indian European and Asian decent and identify as a Proud Black Canadian Woman, and I Never forget the Canadian because that is the Gray. Being Canadian or American should remind you of this beautiful melting pot we are, and that the world is turning into.
People are so prideful that they die & protest to be accepted, & when they are, they still find fault?.
When a white girl wears braids why can’t we say “woooy big up di gyal deh ah show di world and agree seh Our culture is something beautiful to wear and to be celebrated” rather than getting offended and upset.
And when a black fan paints their face to look like mine then what…will u turn it into “appropriation of vitiligo” or will u be able to except something’s as public examples of LOVE? -_- #1LOVE
Winnie was responding to a series of photos where people were creating her face on pictures.
Here is what I loved about the way she viewed the whole thing, she sees love, 100% love, when she thinks about appropriation. I like it because sometimes when we think about such a difficult subject that is the safest place to be.
Many of us are not sure how to view appropriation even now. Every time Kylie puts cornrows in her hair we are disgusted. Every time Iggy Azalea opens her mouth to spit a verse we find fault.
Then there are the magazine editorials, that consistently give props to the white woman for making an African style popular and that really ruffles our feathers.
Winnie is a special woman, she has changed the modeling game by being the only model with viltilgo to walk high fashion runways.
Dear I say if she did not have magic in her skin maybe she would not be where she is today. What could have been a burden for her, was made beautiful and fruitful.
The thing I would tell Winnie is that even with a mix of cultures you are still viewed as black. Canadian, American, Jamaican, Italian are not races, they are cultures and should not be confused with race.
So making the point about appropriation cannot be done with references of the country you were born in or grew up in. Race is a single unit, you can only be one race. As a matter of fact if you had an ounce of black in you, meaning your mom or dad was black you were considered black or mulatto (still black) black in the day.
With that said you can identify with various cultures and ethnicities based on where you grew up and what your experiences are.
The black race has its own cultural experience based on years of oppression, denial based on skin color, loss of basic rights even to live.
There are parts of history that people seek to erase from History books so that children are not exposed to exactly what slavery meant for the African and Caribbean diaspora.
Lets just say the history I was taught on my beautiful island of Jamaica is much different from the history that is taught to the kids (all races) here in America.
I say all this to make the point that there is a rich deep rooted historical meaning that comes with being black and being black cultured.
When a woman don’s cornrows we can all say its just hair until you learn the meaning behind it, you can decide never to comb your hair and grow out your locs till you talk to a real Rasta and know what his locs mean and decide if you can wear his stripes.
When you write an article about a piece of art or fashion or hair that is deeply rooted in black culture it needs to be respected.
Our whole story should always be told regardless of the publication celebrating the culture because it deserves to be told. It does not always have to be a history lesson, but there should be some acknowledgement of where that piece of culture comes from.
So no Winnie if a woman paints her face to look like yours, we wouldn’t call it ‘appropriating vitiligo’ we would call it just love if that is what was.
But if a woman paints her face to look like yours and seeks to profit off the look without wearing your stripes or walking in your shoes, or even acknowledgement of what it is you have been through it is insulting to you whether you feel that way or not.
Appropriation at the surface can mean #1love because many of us love our sisters from other races. At the end of the day we are all just women trying to make it and have fun doing it.
But it doesn’t hurt to be acknowledged and respected for what we have achieved culturally, when you just cash crop our sh*t with no knowledge of what it means or even a single attempt to understand it, is when it gets insulting.
You see, I can always love you for wearing my cornrows, but will you ever really love me for wearing my cornrows?