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Teen Vogue’s Senegalese Twist Editorial Featured NO Medium or Dark Skinned Black Women

Avatar • Jun 24, 2015

elaine-africa-braids-07

It all started when Teen Vogue beauty director, Elaine Welteroth (pictured above) documented her trip to Kigali, Rwanda in an online editorial. Welteroth highlighted her trip to a braiding salon to receive the Senegalese hairstyle.

Adopting this hairstyle became an integral aspect of drinking in the cultural experience as a first-time visitor to East Africa—women sported braids and twists everywhere. But I wasn’t sure how people would react back home in New York City,” said Welteroth.

Um. Pretty sure folks in New York are used to seeing Senegalese twists and box braids. You mean you’ve never heard of the talented NYC-based @HairbySusy? That’s another story for another day.

What really got folks riled up was the printed edition of Welteroth’s piece. The piece was no longer accompanied with photos of Welteroth in the East African braid hut. Instead Welteroth’s images were all but replaced with an ethnically ambiguous model, Phillipa Steele. On a model.com profile, the model describes herself as “half Fijan, and also Tongan, French, English, and American.”

teenvoguespreadbraids

That’s when twitter uses went AWF.

 

The discourse eventually made it’s way back to Welteroth who responding to one commenter on her instagram:

elainewelterothIG

But the African women who conceptualized this style are deep/dark brown women, and the women in America who popularized it are overwhelmingly deep/dark/medium brown skinned. Why have they been totally scrubbed from the piece?

Sound off! Do you think Teen Vogue should be obligated to include more women of color when featuring traditionally black hairstyles?

 

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Lena
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Lena

what is AWF?

The article says ‘That’s when twitter uses [sic] went AWF’

Guest
Guest
Guest

The bottom line is–Vogue caters to white people (insert lightskin, ambiguous model). When are we finally going to get this ?!? The solution was, is and always will be for us to MAKE OUR OWN!!!!

Enough of this begging for the crumbs of white people.

And yes, call out Vogue, but while we’re at it, why are we not calling out Essence, Ebony, Jet to present these stories?!?

I cannot wait for the day when we finally wake up as a people, and realize that the solution to many of our problems is TO MAKE OUR OWN.

cryssi
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cryssi

Teen Vogue I call bullsh*t

Nilotes Love
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Nilotes Love

How about these magazines just stop featuring Brown,Black,Yellow and Red culture just stick to White culture. But I guess white culture includes stealing so I’m sure it will never stop.

fromanotherplanet
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fromanotherplanet

The second to the last tweet basically sums it up my reaction to this whole thing

“The main issue, they went out of their way to find white women with braids. Google Senegalese Twists and Box Braids and see the results…”

Elle P.
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Elle P.

Yes, they should include more AA models of all shades. The issue of colorism hasn’t gone away.

ebaiden
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ebaiden

although that sounds great and all, I put my life on the fact that they will never do it. And if they do, they will misrepresent us as they’ve always done and always will. The only solution is to build our own media. 100 percent by melanated folks. White folks would never empower anyone but their own. Asians would NEVER empower anyone but their own, Indians and other folks who don’t want to be associated with our dark melanated people would never empower us, so WE have to empower ourselves. And the only way to do that is build a… Read more »

k.h
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k.h

Tbh now it’s just annoying. I agree. How do you do a piece on a signature style for people of color and basically leave out the POC? ?lol it’s almost funny how much effort they must have put in to find those pictures because when you Google sengalese twist you find thousands of beautiful black women of ALL shades. However most of them are a medium brown if not darker. I had to scroll down a few pages to find a light skinned woman with the hair style. Smh. Why can’t they just learn.

FreeTea
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FreeTea

They really are just trolling us at this point.I love how I was bullied for these hair styles in my youth, but now they’re all the rage with White and semi-White girls. I define Blackness entirely by phenotype, as genotype isn’t immediately discernible, and there’s something to be said for lived experiences. If you look like you’re Black, you’re treated like you’re Black, and you’re perceptibly Black to most other groups, you’re Black. If you’re treated like you’re White and you have to claim other ethnicities to diminish your Whiteness (like that supposedly Polynesian model), please stop, you’re White. That… Read more »

Ria
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Ria

very sad, but not surprising! there has always been an infatuation with “dark” melinated people yet an outward total disrespect and disregard for the the very people secretly admired, worshiped, envied and marginalized — a love hate biopolar (schizophrenic) relationship. Coming from an ultra biracial, mixed, creole ancestry I think it absolutely DOES matter if beautiful-darker-skinned and brown-skinned woman are included in the representation of their own hair culture.. duh? Teen Vogue got it wrong and should be held accountable for and called out on it (period). That is all. Give Respect and Praise where it is naturally deserved.

Rea Fe Greenage
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Rea Fe Greenage

I have no problem with someone who is not black wearing Senegalese twists. I like to disagree with Elaine Welteroth, because that model does not have any black orgin. Although she may look black, she is lighter than Elaine. That model has a multicultural background, she is Tongan, Fijan, French, English and American orgin. I can see why women of color would be upset that a model who is not black is wearing Senegalese twists. White women would be wearing them as a trend or fashion. Some won’t care where it come from, but there are those who care. But… Read more »

Jayjay
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Jayjay

The website buzzfeed was so insensitive to the issue. Like they had the nerve to title the article “People Are Mad At Teen Vogue For The Model Featured In An Article About Senegalese Twists.”
Like, really? Trivializing the issue.

clever_moniker
Guest

I’m highly suspicious of the editor’s response. What fact does she really want to establish by asking someone to define blackness? If she is as black as the model, then she should already know blackness is complex interplay of genotype, phenotype and experience. I suspect she is gunning for the colorblind route which attempts in this case to separate darker skinned black people from their culture which is a blatant disrespect to the women who actually did her hair. As to the question of appropriation, it’s not for everyone else to feed you this information. Find out for yourself. Besides,… Read more »

ebaiden
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ebaiden

i have a solution to all of these problems going on in the media. Black people, melanated people, people of african descent, blue black people, anyone black and brown.….ITS TIME TO BUILD YOUR OWN MEDIA.

Ms. Vee
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Ms. Vee

Zero shits are given.

Again it is important that we have our own flourishing black media outlets that showcases the real deal. Let teen vogue and the like be nothing more that cheap imitations while we stop expecting white media to show blackness in a positive light.

Coffeeandfingernails
Guest

I don’t have a problem with the women they included–it’s the women they excluded. As BGLH pointed out, that she started by questioning how women in NYC would react to a style that’s been ubiquitous in black American communities since the late 80s was the first red flag. What is actually a story of African migration and entrepreneurship in the United States, along with African-American reconnection to lost history (followed thirty years later by mainstream culture’s use of African/African-American style) is transformed into the story of a Vogue editor and assorted celebrities adopting an “exotic” style they recently discovered (reading… Read more »

brianna
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brianna

its AAVE (or ebonics) for off.

Lena
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Lena

oh okay. It makes sense that it is like ‘off’.
You never know with the internet. I thought it was new
word that everyone decided they liked.

n. king
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n. king

the comment section on the buzzfeed (read: mainstream) reporting on this issue make me want to pull my hair out. Some people will just never get it smh

SKEEWEE
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SKEEWEE

It’s fine if White women want to sport our styles, but WHY DO THEY HAVE TO BE PRAISED FOR IT??? Since the beginning of time, these are the styles that OUR ancestors perfected and adored. This was the style that also helped them to manage their hair, and now, it has to glorified on White bodies. The absolutely nerve…how disgusting.

A Israel
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A Israel

Why do you think they do it? Because, their are brown women, who just as yourself, think it’s okay for them to wear it, but not allowed to represent it. That’s a contradiction in itself, either they can or they cant. I feel they shouldn’t and don’t have the right to. We can end a lot of this hostile cultural took over if we stop excepting there wanting to wear or sporting our hairstyles and looking at it as flattery but get mad and outraged when we aren’t used to represent it. You can’t cry over spilt milk when you… Read more »

SKEEWEE
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SKEEWEE

Well, we can’t really stop ppl from wearing particular hairstyles; we don’t have that kind of control over others, but we can call out the media when they put these Black styles in the spotlight when being fetishized on races of other ppl.

A Israel
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A Israel

I agree with you sis we can’t stop others from wearing our hairstyles and I agree that we don’t have control over them. What I’m saying is, if we stop saying we are okay with them wearing it but in the same sense turn around and ululate when they have emulated it, used another nationality to represent it and then protest when it’s not us, we really don’t have a leg to stand on. What do you think their rebuttal will be? Your people said they were okay with it so why should we have to use WOC to show… Read more »

ebaiden
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ebaiden

so basically you’re saying that they shouldnt wear our hairstyles, like WE shouldnt wear their hairstyles.…. right?

Nicole L. Mack
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Nicole L. Mack

I have been a subscriber to Teen Vogue for over 10years & they always to a wonderful job of showcasing people of color in all shades as cover models, in interviews, and as contributors in general. It’s just 1 article don’t disparage the entire publication for dropping the ball once.

FreeTea
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FreeTea

Haha, this certainly isn’t the first time they dropped the ball.

And it’s not so much that they’ve dropped the ball, it’s more another issue of cultural appropriation because “it looks cooler on White womenz”. Brown girls are getting sick of it, and we have every right to voice our distaste on the issue without being labeled as “too sensitive” like your comment implies.

Ngozi Ikweke
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Ngozi Ikweke

Thoroughly sickened by the way black women’s identity is highjacked by white media. I think black women need to create our own media platforms and support them and represent ourselves because not white people or black men will represent us correctly. Only we black women can collectively represent ourselves and stop this nonsense misappropriation of our identity.

Ness
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Ness

It’s short for “awful” but a play on the word too as saying they went off (awf).

Oratilwe
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Oratilwe

Talking about white women hijacking black identity when very few black people know their own history but know that of white people, would much rather wear a pantsuit to work than, for example, traditional zulu maiden wear and speak English incorrectly while other white people try learn Swahili. The irony.

Muriel Vinson
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Muriel Vinson

This “irony” is the result of hundreds of years of mental slavery, external oppression, internalized oppression and self-hatred that most of us have never healed from…

Victoria Owl
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Victoria Owl

To the black community, I think we should spend less time and energy focusing on these types of magazine articles and more time supporting black blogs/online magazines, black journalist, power pinterest users who dedicate their time, creating boards dedicated to the beauty of black women, black artist, youtubers and the likes. Black people who are dedicated to empowering their communities. Let’s continue to create positive spaces of our own in order to uplift, love, enlighten,and inspire one another. Due to the power of the internet, there are so many bloggers, pinterest pinners, youtubers, artist and the likes that showcase the… Read more »

fromanotherplanet
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fromanotherplanet

Preach girl. Agree 100 percent.

ebaiden
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ebaiden

as you’ve recommended, let’s.
Please recommend any that you currently know.
Im looking suspiciously at the Root Magazine.

Andrea Lewis
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Andrea Lewis

I think Black parents should take this opportunity to unsubscribe their kids from Teen Vogue. The reason these magazines do this shyt is because they know most BP will put up with it! We have a choice. We do not have to patronize any business and we need to stop acting as if we have no choice!

Nicole L. Mack
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Nicole L. Mack

No, your points are valid; I never said they weren’t. I absolutely love; Teen Vogue it’s my favorite magazine. That’s the reason I made the comment; It’s an excellent multicultural publication. My point is there is no reason to throw out the baby with the bathwater. I have the June/July & there are 37 dark skinned people (all with natural hair btw) AND there is a feature on p.22 celebrating ‘curly girls’ with the majority of them being dark ladies with hair in the 4s. This is something very common in this magazine; please don’t complain without knowing the full… Read more »

Nicole L. Mack
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Nicole L. Mack

Please get your facts straight. I’m a decade long subscriber & have the June/July issue. There are 37 dark skinned people (all with natural hair btw) AND there is a feature on p.22 celebrating ‘curly girls’ with the majority of them being dark ladies with hair in the 4s. This is something very common in this magazine; please don’t complain without knowing the full story.

robin
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robin

Not on the cover? But on pg 22? Wow!

brianna
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brianna

ah yes! 37 black ppl out of Hundreds of white or racially ambiguous models?? Yes! Dr. King’s dream came true! NOT I too was subscribed to Teen Vogue and had to cancel it because of its lack of diversity. Rarely did I see any models resembling me (a plus size, dark skin black girl with natural hair). So not only was your comment unnecessary and rude, but it was wrong and one sided. Look at the bigger picture, it’s not just about teen vogue; it’s about how this is common among many magazines and we let it happen because we… Read more »

Andrea Lewis
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Andrea Lewis

It’s a “fact” that I don’t have to adopt YOUR opinions as my own and I can “complain” about whatever I wish, and I do not require YOUR permission to do so. SMH.

Frankly, it’s high time that BW and girls stopped looking to White media to validate their beauty. It’s great that Teen Vogue has deigned to show a few token Blacks in their mag, but that’s not the only issue with these types of magazines; therefore, my opinion remains unchanged and no amount of shrill comments from rude strangers will change that fact.

HeavnsGirl
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HeavnsGirl

And how many white folks?

I’ll wait…

ebaiden
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ebaiden

lol! and that is progress?
MAN we’ve fallen so far back it’s not even funny.

Myesha
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Myesha

The fact that you can count how many black people .….…proves the exact point of what Andrea Lewis was trying to say.

StraightShooter
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StraightShooter

I define Blackness by genetics. Both of parents are Black, all of grandparents are Black, and all of my great-grandparents are Black. Therefore, I’m Black. The reason we have such a hard time defining Blackness in America is because we allow anyone to be Black and we shouldn’t. That’s the reason a Pacific Islander can be paraded around in a magazine as if she is Black.

FreeTea
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FreeTea

You do know that you’re not 100% Black as an American, right? 10–30% “other” resides in our DNA due to our history on this continent.

Thus I judge Blackness by outward appearance. If you can’t pass, you’re Black. If you can, well…

StraightShooter
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StraightShooter

I’m a lot closer to 100% than most. I’ve researched my family tree. So,

StraightShooter
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StraightShooter

I’m a lot closer to 100% than most. I have researched my family tree. The problem I have with judging based on appearance is that biracial people are often lumped into the Black category. To me it forces biracials to only choose Black otherwise they are treated as traitors. Also, many times in the media biracials are allowed to represent Black people, when they aren’t really a representation of Blackness.

BlissfullyAWARE1618
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BlissfullyAWARE1618

No offense, BUT you sound VERY stupid and simple-minded. You know nothing of StraightShooter’s genetic history to state she “ISN’T 100% Black”. What if SS is a FIRST generation American and her parents,grandparents, great-grandparents etc., are from AFRICA? People like that DO EXIST you know! You sound like ANOTHER whitewashed AFRICAN in America (African-American) who has an obsession with being ANYTHING other than JUST AFRICAN as if there is something wrong with that. Black people, time to wake up! Time to realize that it’s your WHITE counterparts that MADE YOU HATE YOUR AFRICANESS, so for soooo many reasons, especially for… Read more »

FreeTea
Guest
FreeTea

Whoa. Doing the most, I see? Please brush up on your reading comprehension, let go of the caps lock, and re-read my comments. Also…paragraphs, girl. I don’t necessarily consider 1st gen Black Americans fully “American”, as they most likely still have close ties to their parents’ culture(s). When I said Black Americans, I meant those of us that have been here for generations and can date their origin in this country back to slavery. I prefer ‘Black’ over ‘African American’, hence my word choice. But that’s an entirely different discussion. You say I’m stupid and simple-minded for making assumptions about… Read more »

Annie
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Annie

Why can;t they just stick to white preppy culture smh.

JS
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JS

Because it had gotten boring.

mmmdot
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mmmdot

How the hell do think Black people may have GOTTEN that way. Shut the hell up and read a book, moron. ::Eyeroll::

Oratilwe
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Oratilwe

I understand that the reason why it is that way is because of the initial oppression of black people but we have more freedom now. We have can make the choice to do all the things black people in the past used to do culTurally.

No need to call me a moron.

lisa
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lisa

How does America define black? When only real black unarmed people are the only ones being shot 377 times in Florida and 150 times in Cleveland. Bi racial people get the white privilege along with their white mothers. It takes two black people to make a black person. There is a real attack going on against black on black love , black families and black women. Black culture created by real black people is the only real culture in the world that is why they have to come and steal from us all day. White women desperately want to be… Read more »

Ahyana Coleman
Guest
Ahyana Coleman

You say it takes to black people to make a black child. Both my parents are black but one is very light skinned with loose curls. People ask me sometimes if I’m mixed or half black. I’m light skinned with very light eyes , would I be black enough for you. My great grandma was half white and both sides of my family have a lot of Native American so we’re lighter skin. Mixed, biracial / light skinned blacks do have some privileges but also we have our own set of stuggle sometimes many of the same because to the… Read more »

ebaiden
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ebaiden

I wanted to let everyone know to please let’s educate ourselves. The original natives were dark complected to the point that they kind’a looked African in some ways.
PS: I do not doubt your Native American heritage.

Ahyana Coleman
Guest
Ahyana Coleman

By the way — the people shot in Florida and cleveland were not all 100% black

mmmdot
Guest
mmmdot

Cultural appropriation occurs when a style leads to racist generalizations or stereotypes where it originated but is deemed as high fashion, cool, or funny when the racially privileged take it for themselves. When in the position to create opportunities for others, consider if your supposed commitment to “diversity” is at all visible to the naked eye.

Free Tea
Guest
Free Tea

You think you are, or have you actually had it measured? Having generations of only black parentage in your family does not rule out generational mixing. I can trace my maternal side back to slavery, and everyone’s Black–but my mother is still ~25% White. Both of my parents are very clearly Black, and I’m 30% non-Black. Yes, it forces some biracial people into the ‘Black’ category, but it also forces those that do not appear Black out. At the end of the day, people are going to box you into the most parsimonious category. Some people are very clearly biracial… Read more »

ama
Guest
ama

The problem is where the mixture entered the family. in the past people who were mixed were usually the result of rape of black women and the children were raised by their black family members and entrenched in black culture. this almost forced blackness on them. More recent mixtures are more likely to be of white mothers and black fathers and grow up in their mother’s culture. this makes a world of difference.

Philly Jawn
Guest
Philly Jawn

Vogue always does this they hate black women but love our style they praise rihanna and bey but thats all whats new

Ahyana Coleman
Guest
Ahyana Coleman

Not everyone is so privileged to be able to research their family tree

StraightShooter
Guest
StraightShooter

I think it’s bit disrespectful to call it privileged. Surely, I could understand if someone happened to be adopted, but most people don’t care enough. I spent a lot of time interviewing the oldest people in my family before some of them passed on. I could only use ancestry for so much, before my family disappeared. It was important for me to my family history. You just seem really judgmental.

Joy Villa
Guest
Joy Villa

Awful. The one chance to feature an array of beautiful brown skinned women sporting wonderful African hair styles, they balk. Why not showcase a rainbow of skin colors and beauty? This watering down of Black culture is sickening and wrong. If it were a piece on Chinese hair styles, or German braids, you would expect to see these beautiful colors. But African hair and no African women? C’mon, are you shitting me?

Lele215
Guest
Lele215

Amen.

Anaria
Guest
Anaria

I just received the June/July issue of Teen Vogue magazine and the same writer who wrote the article about Senegalese twists and box braids has written another article about natural hair or curly haired woman. I still don’t know if Teen Vogue got it right. I believe this article was simply a plug for Dove products, but I could be over analyzing the article. I will put a picture with my comment. What do you guys think?

ama
Guest
ama

I definitely agree with you on this. My brothers’ children have white mothers and none if them could ever culturally tell anyone what it means to be black. They are definitely white culturally and I have told one of them when he said he was black, I told him no you are black and white. I make this distinction and informed him of it so that he will not feel the need to try and represent black people. he can tell of his experiences but he cannot speak on what it means to be black because he has not thus… Read more »

ama
Guest
ama

Agreed, I was like if she as black as you then you myst not be black cuz by that ethnic description the model aint black so.…

BlissfullyAWARE1618
Guest
BlissfullyAWARE1618

I GUESS “YOU TOLD ME” HUH? First off, it DOESN’T matter what YOU FEEL is American or not. Then, you wanna talk about grammar and punctuation (which, btw, was petty)? I know EXACTLY WHY I used what I used, when I used it AND the meanings behind them! (There’s your paragraph you wanted so bad ?? since a white person told you it HAS TO go there!) So cool, let’s also talk about terms. How about first-generation AMERICAN? It’s a very valid term for a reason. Second off, let’s revisit YOUR reading. I said Black PEOPLE, not person, as in… Read more »

FreeTea
Guest
FreeTea

Um, you initiated the pettiness and the discord when you called me out of my name, made vast assumptions about my intelligence and opinions (which I’m allowed to have, btw), and accused me of self-hate when I said nothing to indicate that that is an issue for me. Additionally, using paragraphs does not mean I’m kow-towing to the White man, it means I’m considerate to others reading the comments. Sheesh. You’re doing the exact same things you’re accusing me of doing in your own posts, which confuses the hell out of me–what kind of point are you trying to make,… Read more »

A Israel
Guest
A Israel

What hairstyles have they created that we proudly emulate and wear? Majority of their hairstyles, don’t forget, came from us. We groomed their hair during slavery we kept their hair up even their children. Whenever they went somewhere the hairstyles that they wore was created by us during slavery and even after. When we were so called “freed” when we came up with a particular hairstyle they turned around and emulated it and again laid claims to it. They have been doing that throughout time, going back into time (20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s etc) and just updating styles we no… Read more »

ebaiden
Guest
ebaiden

I look at the long kimkardashianesque hairstyle that alot of us black women wear as an example. I wouldn’t be suprised if was created in the black community, but that whole kneecap peruvian hair hat situation to me is out of control and it’s not an accurate representation of us black folks.

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