Barrettes, beads and braids — everything that made up my hairstyles as a little girl.

While all of the other kindergarten girls with silky hair tossed their ponytails and perfectly curled pigtails on the playground, my barrettes, beads and braids smacked around my face as I scaled the monkey bars.

Back then, I never saw these accessories as vehicles for black hairstyles or really questioned why I was the only one wearing them. I just knew my mother wanted my hair that way and that’s how it would be worn. It was just hair.

When I first heard about the whole Kylie Jenner cornrows ordeal, I didn’t understand what people meant by “cultural appropriation.”

So, of course, I had to look it up and found that, “cultural appropriation is the adoption of elements of one culture by members of a different cultural group,” according to Wikipedia.

Although I now understand what cultural appropriation is, I couldn’t understand why people were upset.

Were they mad because she had gotten cornrows without the black community’s permission?

Were they mad because she took a style that our community has done for years without really embracing or defending any other important parts of the culture?

Or was it her caption describing her new braids, “I woke up like disss,” that threw people into a fit? (I’m pretty sure we’ve all referenced Beyoncé’s “Flawless” track one or two times on our own Instagrams.)

And to those who claim cornrows are part of their black culture, do you even know the history of your culture?

Cornrows date back thousands of years, seen in clay sculptures originating from Nigeria. Back then, cornrows weren’t a style or a trend; they were a way of letting others know what tribe you were from.

Nowadays, members of the black community wear them to look good or protect their hair. So, basically, who cares?

If adopting aspects of other’s culture is so wrong, then we should be attacking white rappers, non-blacks who listen to rap and even those who eat dishes from other cultures.

So do Kylie Jenner’s cornrows upset me? No. Are they an example of cultural appropriation? No.

And do you know why? Because it’s just hair.


Tracy Petit is the president of the Black Female Development Circle at UCF.

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