Black America, please stop appropriating African clothing and tribal marks.
Zipporah Gene

Well, this article and this mindset has been bothering me for a while now. Mainly because, it seems as though people are condeming so called “African-Americans” for their ‘ignorance’ and ‘appropriation’, when actually those who believe this argument are really showing their ignorance, in my opinion. (This is not because I am an “African-American” who owns a “Afrocentric” clothing line for children, either!) I will try to explain simply without writing a whole article: Black people are not some magical African group dropped into America who turned into Americans. When Africans arrived unwillingly to this continent, we did all we could to resist and ‘protest’ our enslavement. European-Americans tried to strip us of our culture — our language, music, family structure, religion, etc. They did this mostly to prevent slave rebellion — for example, some ethnic groups communicated with drums across long distances in “Africa”. Once we arrived, we began commuicating the same way — enslaved africans could communicate to difference plantations miles away. Scary for our captors? Yes. Drumming — outlawed. Speaking a language other than what they could understand — outlawed. Conjuring up the spirit of our ancestors to help us overcome our enslavement — outlawed. Some people say our culture was lost because of this. Actually, it was not lost, but transformed. We can’t speak our language, okay we will use English and mix in coded language. We can’t call on spirits in ceremonies? OK, we will go to your church but dance, shout, and ululate there. Obviously, we didn’t have sewing tools or materials to stay in our clothing, but we could still wrap our heads in the raps we were given, use beads found here instead of cowry shells, and try to style ourselves in the way we were when we were free. We could still tell our children of stories of our homeland, and pass down those stories from generation to generation. We should be IN AWE that our people, in such an hostile environment, were able to keep the LOVE and PRIDE in our culture, and keep the stories going for GENERATIONS, all ORALLY. Imagine an enslaved African woman comforting her preteen child who has just been raped by an overseer, wiping away her tears, replacing them with tribal markings, telling her the story her mother told her about how brave our women used to be during initiation or times of war? Then imagine your African brothers and sisters who were not captured said “stop copying us”. . . . . . What? Copying?

Over time, the story changes, more details are lost, but the underlying culture is still there. We gain more and more freedoms, and our leaders continue to encourage us, like lots of others affect by European colonization and domination, to resist cultural imperialism, to make sure we stay connected to what belongs to us. Because Europeanism would love African-Americans to disconnect from the continent. How powerful would our children be if they had a history, a culture, if they knew what was taught in school — that they were from nothing and nowhere, was false? Yes, that would be dangerous for them. We don’t SEEK to wear OUR traditional clothing for fashion, we do it to show unity and RESIST the further destruction of our community. Even still today we are fighting battles to wear our hair in braids and dreadlocs to school. Now not only do we have to fight the European to be African, we have to fight the African him/herself. Educate us? Please . . .

Plus, you don’t see us asking you to stop copying hip-hop and rap. Lots of my African friends wear clothes popularized by Black Americans, or more importantly, using lyrics that they really have no idea what they mean give the realities history of our people. I don’t tell them that they’ve watched to much A Different World or Boyz in the Hood, I’m just glad that we have a connection.

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