Hi Tracy,

Thank you for your well thought-out response. I have complex opinions on this one. Let's start with the part I knew nothing about: Aso-Oke.

According to this site, Aso-Oke is a cloth that is worn on special occasions by the Yorubas, usually for chieftaincy, festivals, engagement, naming ceremony and other important events. So I, personally, wouldn't wear it unless it was on a special occasion, unless this site is inaccurate. Somebody gave me a kente cloth scarf one time, but it just felt disingenuous to me, not Nancy Pelosi-level disingenuous but more like, "I cannot tell you five things about Ashanti people from Ghana, and that's even including dusting off my memory back from a Ghanaian pen pal I used to have."

St. Patrick's Day: I have never worn green on St. Patrick's Day. I don't have any green clothes, so let's start there. But it also, once again, just felt like I would be bandwagon riding to do that but then not show up and show out for Juneteenth or Kwanzaa or stuff that directly relates to my origins. I'll celebrate everybody's everything and learn about it. But just as I'm not buying feathers in bulk for a pow wow, it is so easy to just ENJOY the celebration and LEARN without me going, "Oooh ooh, me too! Me too!"

Bantu knots: As stated, the Jamaican flag bikini made total sense to me, considering the occasion (similar to your scarf). I wouldn't bat an eye at it. Those knots just bug the shit outta me because I know black women would catch pure hell wearing that to most white collar jobs. I do get that in an "artistic" job, it'd probably work. But even in the modeling industry, black women are so often told to assimilate (i.e. wear weave, be thin, downplay physical features, tuck in the ass). Looking at her in Bantu knots feels like I'm listening to someone talk about how Ashley Graham or Kim Kardashian are the "first" plus-sized models.

Appreciation vs appropriation: This takes me back to the post on me dressing as a "Native American" for Halloween without knowing squat about the culture. I fully understand the misguided view that it's a "cool" thing to do. I do believe that there is this misguided view that white people are making it that much cooler when they do it (refer to Miley Cyrus and 30-year-old twerking dance). But I ride the line here, too. Miley never came out and said she invented twerking. She just twerked and everyone gave her credit for it. What makes POC nervous about white people showing appreciation for something is the mainstream world will too often go "[insert white person here] started it." Just smooth ignore the entire history. So as soon as I saw the Bantu knots, my first thought was, "Expect a bunch of white girls to say, 'let me get a hairstyle like Adele'" and totally ignore the history of the hairstyle. Just like that, it becomes Adele’s. In my opinion, that’s where the uproar about cultural appropriation really manifests.

Anyway, thank you for reading. I appreciate hearing your view.

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Check out her five Medium publications: Doggone World, Homegrown, I Do See Color, Tickled and We Need to Talk. Visit Shamontiel.com to read about her.

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