Kendall And Kylie And Another Case Of Cultural Appropriation

Kendall And Kylie And Another Case Of Cultural Appropriation

Remember the black identity behind black culture.

It’s time again to ask the question: What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?

Sisters Kendall and Kylie Jenner recently released a "vintage" t-shirt line titled "Rap vs. Rock," each product selling for $125. The shirts feature grayscale images of notable musical artistes, including Notorious B.I.G, Tupac Shakur, and Ozzy Osbourne. Neon images of Kendall, Kylie, or the letters "KK" are superimposed over each image.

The line sparked immediate backlash, most significantly from Voletta Wallace, mother of Notorious B.I.G. She took to Instagram to threaten legal action against the continuous sale of the shirts, claiming that the Jenners had not received permission to use her son’s image. She further wrote, "I am not sure who told @kyliejenner and @kendalljenner that they had the right to do this. The disrespect of these girls to not even reach out to me or anyone connected to the estate baffles me. I have no idea why they feel they can exploit the deaths of 2pac and my Son Christopher to sell a t-shirt. This is disrespectful, disgusting, and exploitation at its worst!!!"

The lawyer for the Notorious B.I.G estate, Julian K. Petty, later sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Jenners, asking that the shirts be withdrawn by 5 p.m., on Friday, June 30th. He commented, "This is misappropriation at its finest. I’m curious to hear the justification. I’m even more curious to hear the proposed resolution."

The sisters then posted an apology after pulling the line on June 29th, stating "These designs were not well thought out and we deeply apologize to anyone that has been upset and/or offended, especially to the families of the artists." The post closed with "We will use this as an opportunity to learn from these mistakes and again, we are very sorry."

Cultural appropriation, defined as "the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture,” is something that the Jenners have faced backlash for numerous times, and this incident adds to the list.

The "trends" taken from black culture that are often monetized and profited off of by white business owners are often praised as edgy or innovative, but when black culture is practiced by black communities, it is stereotyped and often criticized. While Marc Jacobs is hailed for taking "something that's so street and raw," and making a "total look" when dressing Kendall Jenner in dreads for his Fall 2016 runway show, South African pupils at Pretoria High were forced to chemically straighten their afros because they were deemed "untidy." When Kendall Jenner wears cornrows, Marie Claire praises her for taking "bold braids to a new epic level," but when students at Butler Traditional High School in Louisville, Kentucky did the same, their hairstyles were banned by the dress code.

These t-shirts were no different. Cultural appropriation is far deeper than hair; it is the erasure of the black identity behind black culture. The images of Notorious B.I.G and Tupac Shakur are, as Wallace rightfully claims, exploited for their popularity, and the superimposition of images of Kendall and Kylie demonstrate irreverence for the communities for whom these artists are significant. They cannot stake claim to the legacy that these artistes have cultivated.

Accusations against the Jenners aren’t new, but are part of a much larger and overwhelmingly relevant issue. It is vital that the sources of and communities behind the culture be recognized and lauded. Their work is not done to be reduced to passing trends. If influencers wish to partake in a culture, then their engagement with the social responsibility that accompanies it should be equally profound.

Being "very sorry" is never enough.

Cover Image Credit: Disney, ABC Television Group / Flickr

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The Key To Ending Your First Draft Blues

Or at least getting through the next chapter with your hair intact

Ah, the first draft. We’ve all been there as writers. The day we decide to turn a blank word document into a 70,000 word (or more) masterpiece. Or, at least, that’s always the aim. Often as first-time writers, we go into the experience blind, learning as we go, and never really knowing whether what we’re doing is right or wrong.

It can be frustrating at times, as most first drafts are a test of sanity. As somebody who had written ten first draft books (nearing eleven) in six years, I have had my fair share of ups and downs when it comes to first drafts.

My first book ever took me four years just to write it, I started at the age of sixteen and finished by the time I was twenty. A year later I had written another. I then wrote one in thirty days, and nowadays I write about three to four books a year.

My point is, there is no science to writing. It is all about learning how to do it, and finding the methods that suit you best. I just wish I could have had someone to tell me all of that when I started.

With that in mind, here are my five pieces of advice on how to write your first draft:

#5 Embrace the Terribleness

The first draft is always the worst version of any story. The sooner you accept it, the easier it is to move forward with your work. So you misspell a few words so bad that even Word can't help you. That shouldn't stop you from going with the flow. Your dialogue will feel hammier than a "Star Wars" film, but you'll clean it up the second time around. You're not expected to create a masterpiece on the first go, so just enjoy the ride.

#4 Suffer for your Art

Writing can be hard. I've said it enough times already, but it's true. You have to be prepared to suffer for it. The reason my first book took four years to write was because I didn't commit to it. The reason I wrote 80,000 words in thirty days was because I committed myself to write at least 1,000 words a day. Now I average 3,000 daily. Is it painful to force 3,000 words to the page every day? Yes, but that's what you have to do to get the draft finished.

#3 Take your Time

Now I know this goes against what I just said, but it's important that you go at the pace you want to. I was happier writing 1,000 words a day, but I was eighteen then. At twenty-three, I'll never get everything done going at 1,000 words a day. Commit yourself to writing every day, even if its only 200 words. Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. You'll get to the finishing line quicker if you jog a steady pace rather than adopting a sprint and rest mentality.

#2 Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Yes, it's important to remember what colour your character's hair is, which one is taller, and what weapon they are carrying. Although with that said, it is important to keep going forward. In my editing, I go over everything with a fine comb, often with a character profile at my side. Don't get bogged down giving every little detail the first time around, you'll have time for that later. The hardest thing is getting it down the first time.

#1 Keep the Story Going at All Costs

This kind of goes without saying, but it is by far the most important step for me. You have to keep moving forward. It doesn't matter if you have to use the biggest Deus ex machina to get your plot going again, you can always edit it away in the re-draft. I use a technique called automatic writing, which means that I don't plan every detail of a chapter. I simply write it as I go. This allows me to give my characters natural reactions as events often come as a surprise to me too.

Obviously it is good to have a rough idea of what is meant to happen, but as long as you can get your characters from A to B, then you are half way there. The other half will be polishing it to the point you can see your reflection.

Good luck, and happy writing.

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4 Steps To Writing a Haiku

It's Fun I Promise

You've probably had to write a haiku for English sometime in your school career. You most likely found it boring, or difficult, or just plain stupid. I am going to try and show you a more fun way to write a haiku.

1. The Basics: What You Should Know

In case you don't know, a haiku is a Japanese poem that is only three lines long. It is usually taught that the syllables in each line should go 5-7-5. But really, as long as there are 17 syllables or less in the three lines, it's a haiku.

2. Write to Get a Reaction

When you write a haiku, you are aiming to get one of three reactions: Aaaahhh, aha!, or ha ha! For example...

Aaahhh: Laying in bed/dog next to me under blanket/my furry heater

Aha!: Life is too short to love people/who do not deserve/your whole heart

Ha ha!: I'm on the toilet/and my stomach drops/the roll is empty

3. Create an Image

In your writing, you want to create a new image in your readers mind with each line. Take my first haiku for example. I first talk about laying in bed. Then, I say there is a dog next to me under the blanket, so you picture a lump under the covers. In my last line, I call him a furry heater so you imagine a heater covered in fur. The image you create is more important than the syllables.

4. Performing

Lastly, you need to think about performing your haiku. As always, when you're speaking in front of a room of people, you need to project so the whole room can hear you and you need to make eye contact. Another thing to remember is the tone of your voice while you are saying your poem. Dramatic pauses can keep people on the edge of their seat, waiting for what you're going to say next. You also have to remember to be confident! And if you're not confident, fake it till you make it!

Cover Image Credit: Imgur

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