Amandla is Right. Kylie (and the Kardashians) are Problematic.
The Kardashian-Jenners are no strangers when it comes to public drama. Usually, it’s the older half sisters of Kylie Jenner who are caught in public confrontation. However, a recent spat between Kylie Jenner (best known for being someone else’s half sister) and Amandla Stenberg (beloved Black actress from the Hunger Games series) highlights just how much certain members of this family appropriate blackness while openly diminishing actual Black people.
Jenner and Stenberg have some history. It is rumored that Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith banned their children, Jaden and Willow — woke Black teens from the future, from fraternizing with the Kardashian-Jenner clan. However, Jaden and Amandla Stenberg went to prom together this year. So, clearly, there is some animus between the teenagers. After Stenberg saw an image of Kylie with pursed lips, aqua blue nails, and frankly, introductory-level cornrows on Instagram, she left a comment that can only be described as an epic, wig snatching mic drop.
“When u appropriate black features and culture but fail to use ur position of power to help black Americans by directing attention towards ur wigs instead of police brutality or racism #whitegirlsdoitbetter.”
Jenner replied with the weakest comeback in history, “Mad if I don’t, Mad if I do. ..Go hang w Jaden or something.” Clearly, she completely missed the point or she just didn’t care.
Kylie is exactly Jaden’s and Amandla’s age but her comeback implies that the two are somehow beneath her. In one comment, Jenner managed to disregard the very real critique Stenberg (and many others have of her and her family) while belittling both Stenberg and Jaden Smith. This isn’t the first time a Kardashian-Jenner woman has demeaned Black people while appropriating characteristics which are typically attributed to “Black Culture.”
If you remember, back in February, this was the same kind of language Khloe Kardashian used with respect to model Amber Rose, a Black woman. Khloe implied that Rose was less of a woman than Kim Kardashian (who rose to fame following her sex tape). Khloe then tried to shame Rose for her previous work as an exotic dancer.
While Rose was unapologetic with her clapback, it was still very apparent that, while the Kardashian-Jenners participate in many of the same private behaviors as the Black people they attack, their language implies that they are somehow better. What’s even worse though, is that Kanye West later joined in saying he had to take “30 showers” before he could be with Kim. Again, the implication is that the Kardashian-Jenner women are higher quality and more valuable than other women, specifically Black women, even when they have similar backgrounds.
What underlies this conversation, however, is Stenberg’s key point: the Kardashian-Jenners spend a great deal of time emulating, caricaturing, and posing as Black women but do nothing to support or empower actual Black people. Like Iggy Azalea — who believes she should be able to say the n-word, the Kardashian-Jenners wear “Black Culture” as a decoration, something to be gawked at rather than defended and preserved. In instance after instance, we see White girls like them injecting substances into their bodies, growing lips and butts overnight, wearing fake gold-ones, and co-opting African American Vernacular English (AAVE) for show. Yet, these same individuals are completely silent when Black people face harm in public spaces.
Stenberg is right. White girls do cultural appropriation better. And, the Kardashian-Jenners are a prime case of this fact. Luckily, Stenberg is a free Black girl who stays woke. She said what many can’t and others won’t. There should be a baseline expectation that those who enjoy “Black Culture” also seek to do it no harm. With the Kardashian-Jenners, that simply isn’t the case.
Source: Instagram/Kylie Jenner
Jenn M. Jackson is the Editorial Assistant for The Black Youth Project. She is also the Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of Water Cooler Convos, a politics, news, and culture webmag for bourgie Black nerds. For more about her, tweet her at @JennMJack or visit her website at jennmjackson.com.