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Black fashion: Appreciating vs. appropriating trends they pioneered

Posted at 6:04 AM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-03 19:01:09-05

People who know local transportation planner, Shundria Brewer know that she loves fashion. So when asked about the difference between appreciating and appropriating it, she's passionate about it.

“It’s cool to do Black things, but it’s not cool to be Black,” Brewer said. “Everyone wants to dress Black and listen to Black music, but no one wants the plight that comes with being Black.”

Now you may ask: What is the difference between fashion appreciation and appropriation?

“It’s a thin line between the two. The difference is, paying homage and being respectful of the culture while you’re wearing said garment,” 'The Fashion Psychologist' Dawnn Karen said. “Fashion appropriation occurs when one has no historical viewpoints of the garments, and they may be making a few behavioral mistakes while wearing the garment.”

Some trends these women brought up that are adopted into popular culture but are sometimes not accredited to the Black community that started it are urban-wear or streetwear.

“If we were to wear them in corporate America, we would be deemed as being incompetent, unfit or unprofessional, but other cultures can wear the same attire, and they may call it ‘Silicon Valley chic,’” Karen said.

Other trends Black people pioneered that have adopted in popular culture have been hairstyles like Bantu knots and cornrows.

“Remember when Khloe Kardashian wore what we call Bantu knots, but they called them mini buns? And She was praised for being a trendsetter, for this trend, this hairstyle, that's been in the Black community since the 1800s. when Black women have been wearing them since the 1700s,” Brewer said. “And then women ask ‘why can’t we wear cornrows?’ It’s not that you can’t wear them, it’s just that do you know what they stand for? Do you know that cornrows were used as maps for slaves for freedom?”

Bakersfield-based chef and “fashionable artist, Ora Frink said one way locals can show appreciation for Black fashion is to support Black businesses in town or beyond.

“You know, Dapper Dan is the king of urban streetwear. [He is] the creator who took fashion and remixed it,” Frink said. “I think for the urban culture, the Black culture, the African-American culture, hashave to be recognized and appreciated. When you wear their stuff, say who it is.”

Karen pointed out that the current social climate has led to society move toward being more appreciative than appropriative.

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