Over the weekend, Amandla Stenberg and Kylie Jenner got in a heated exchange on Instagram after Kylie Jenner posted an image of herself with cornrows along with the caption, “I woke up like disss.” After being dismissively told by Jenner to “Go hang w Jaden [Smith] or something,” Stenberg took the time to write out her thoughts on cultural appropriation, racial fetishism, and the challenges faced by black women who claim sexual agency.
Black features are beautiful. Black women are not. White women are paragons of virtue and desire. Black women are objects of fetishism and brutality.
This, at least, seems to be the mentality surrounding black femininity and beauty in a society built upon eurocentric beauty standards. While white women are praised for altering their bodies, plumping their lips, and tanning their skin, black women are shamed although the same features exist on them naturally.
This double standard is one string in the netting that surrounds black female sexuality — a web that entraps black women when they claim sexual agency. Deeply ingrained into culture is the notion that black female bodies, at the intersect of oppression, are less than human and therefore unattractive.
As culture shifts and racial tensions are tested through the vehicle of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, it’s important to question, as Stenberg finishes: “Do female black lives matter too?”
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