Giving black culture credit

Shasa Sartin, Features Editor

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Within the past week, 21-year-old model and Nike representative Bella Hadid has been dragged (1) incessantly for her embarrassing appearance in Complex Magazine’s sneaker shopping video series. Hadid has been criticized for sounding like an undercover cop as she describes her “sneaker turn offs.” That’s how bad it was. While shopping in KITH NYC, also known as hypebeast (2) heaven, Hadid said, “If homeboys coming through in these, it’s quiet for him,” as she picks up a pair of Nike shoes that aren’t “fresh” enough. Hadid continues: “But if he comes through in like these, got some air maxes out here, got some Jordans, homeboys gonna like, get it.” In a short 45 second clip she managed to expose (3) herself as a culture vulture.

Hadid is an up and coming supermodel—though fashion bloggers are hesitant to place her alongside icons such as Naomi Campbell. Modeling since 2014, she is incredibly successful in her field. She is adored by everyone from Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel to Virgil Abloh of street-wear brand Off-White. In the complete interview, Hadid appears out of her element, however. She attempted to use “dope” and “homeboy” so painfully that I writhed in my chair while watching the video for the first time. Hadid does this in order to gain some kind of cool points as a young person and as a celebrity. The way to get those cool points—to let people know you are on trend and “in touch”—is to utilize black vernacular, also referred to as African American Vernacular English (AAVE).

Black culture is stolen, packaged and sold at ludicrously expensive prices for the consumption of overwhelmingly non-black Americans. Hadid’s racial identity as Palestinian American does not excuse her from this issue, either. It is an American classic. A recent and notable example of this is a young woman named Kayla Newman from the suburbs of Chicago who created the massively famous phrase “eyebrows on fleek” in a Vine video in 2014. The word “fleek” has since been on countless t-shirts, mugs, and stickers. Newman has yet to receive any royalties from the countless companies that committed intellectual theft from her. This is just one example of how black Americans often watch their culture pried out of their hands by non-black people looking for a profit.

It is important to make clear that the words and phrases that dictate our popular culture are almost always thanks to black queer people, namely transgender women. You can thank black queer communities for “yaaas!,” “queen Bey gives me life!,” “hunty,” and “throwing shade,” just to name a few.

Taking that into account, have you noticed that most of the American people throwing these words around, sounding like a model we know, have some things in common? These are the people that love Beyoncé but don’t understand why she would dare include Black Panther imagery in her Superbowl performance. The same people who haven’t watched a second of BET (Black Entertainment Television) but Stanley Hudson on The Office is their favorite character. The same people who tweet “*sips tea*” but have never watched RuPaul’s Drag Race. The same people who claim to love Migos and know every word to “Bad and Boujee” but would not dare to kneel at the homecoming football game.

White America loves the distant, abstract, and assumedly ‘meaningless’ aspects of black culture. When it comes to caring about actual black people, Hadid said it best: “it’s quiet.”

  1. Ones ego is figuratively dragged through a pile of dirt for doing something deserves chastising.
  2. Someone who wears Supreme everything, wants to be Luka Sabbat, and retweets everything that fashion blog Four Pins posts.
  3. To reveal the truth hiding behind the fallacy that someone creates.
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