There is a very thin line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation. Those who are lucky enough to know their roots, to know where they came from and who they are, are truly blessed. To a certain extent, I can trace my roots to Ghana and to the Dominican Republic, but most of the stories died along with my Poppa (Great-Grandfather) a few months ago. Still, I have no idea of what ethnic group I belong to in Ghana, or if I still have family in Ghana or the DR. And because my Poppa went by his American name rather than his Ghanaian name, I will probably have no way to trace my ancestry.
What does all of this have to do with cultural appropriation? Some who have the privilege of tracing their roots to a specific ethnic group in Africa, have accused Black Americans of appropriating African culture for a trend. As a Black American, I have a differing view. I believe that my generation is reconnecting with it's roots, distancing itself from the American culture, and discovering the culture of Africa. A culture of budding of differing ethnic groups, diversity, a variety of spoken languages and traditions and livelihood I will forever wish I had the opportunity to know and love on a more personal level. Until the opportunity arises, I will always embrace African culture, and specifically Ghanaian culture, as my own.
My goal of today's look was to be unapologetically black; to completely embrace my culture. My top is a concert tank purchased from The Formation Tour. It is probably unavailable elsewhere besides her tour merchandise stand. If you pay close attention to the details of the shirt, you will notice that Beyoncé is wearing traditional tribal face paint (I'm sure this probably has a more specific name, but after hours of research I have had no luck with locating any info - let me know if you can enlighten me). Since the release of Lemonade a month ago, I have already seen this look pop up on several popular models and in store lookbooks as a "new trendy makeup look for summer." I'm here to tell you that it is not a trend, and is rather a part of a specific African ethnic group(s) tradition. It should be your duty to make sure you aren't appropriating a culture that you don't belong to for a new trendy look.
I wanted my outfit to reflect the look of an African cloth, which is also known as "ankara," "kente," or "dutch wax," depending on who you speak to. The closest print I could find in my closet to reflect my "look" is this skirt from Forever 21. I purchased it while in Chicago on clearance for only $4.39 during their Extra 30% Off Sale. What I love most about the skirt is the bronze bead detailing in the waist ties. It creates a rustic and worn look which adds to the entire look.
I limited my accessories for this look, in order for the top and skirt to stand out more. I simply choose a bronze, floral print, brass necklace and gold hoop earrings. To complete the look, I added a large straw hat from Forever 21. I purchased this hat last season, but similar hats are still available at the store or other stores. My shoes are last season's sandals from Target.
If you still don't understand what cultural appropriation is, I suggest Goggle or reading journals from well-known activists to enlighten your mind.
- Chelsea Nicole, The Mod Little Melanin 💋
The Mod Little Melanin
The Mod Little Melanin
A Fashion Blog by Chelsea Nicole.