DISCUSSION- CORNROWS

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Alltså, jag behöver er hjälp här! Jag tycker verkligen cornrows är så himla himla snyggt och bekvämt. Ända sedan jag flätade håret förra sommaren har jag varit sugen på att skaffa det igen, men låtit bli på grund av hela cultural appropriation-debatten kring det. Jag är helt med på båten när det talas om direkt religiösa accessoarer som till exempel bindi, men just cornrows har jag svårare att förstå då det använts i så många kulturer i olika tidsåldrar och av olika anledningar. Vad känner ni? Tycker ni att det är okej för mig som vit och privilegierad att skaffa cornrows eller skulle det vara fel? Diskutera med mig!

Guys, I need your help here! I really really think cornrows is a suuuuper cool and comfortable hairstyle. Ever since I braided my hair last summer, I’ve been wanting to do it again, but chosen not to because of the whole cultural appropriation debate surrounding it. I’m totally on board when it comes to religious accessories such as bindi, but I have a hard time to figure out how to think about cornrows since it’s used in so many cultures in different periods in history and for different reasons. What do you think? Do you think it’s okay for me as white and privileged to get cornrows or would it be wrong ethically? Discuss with me!

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44 responses to “DISCUSSION- CORNROWS

  1. Nadir skriver:

    I think the whole cornrow debate is very US-centric and it’s hard to even imagine having this debate in Europe.. in the US, I think it’s disrespectful to wear cornrows, dread locks etc. as a white person because of the discrimination black people face over there; they are not allowed to wear their hair like this on many occasions and receive abuse when they do, whereas white people get praised for it. I’ve never heard of things like this happen in Europe, though, so I think it might be ok to wear them over here. I’m really not sure though, it’s a difficult topic.

    1. ebba skriver:

      Thanks for telling me about this! I didn’t know it wasn’t okay for some people to wear them over there nowadays still! I’ll make some research about that!

  2. Johanna skriver:

    Jag tycker svaret är väldigt enkelt, är du inte svart så ha inte svartas frisyrer. Och jag tror inte det är din mening, men det känns extra problematisk att du ska vissa hur snyggt det är med cornrows genom att bara vissa upp vita människor som har det.

    Sedan är ju jag också vit och har inget tolkningsföreträde i frågan, så det du egentligen borde göra är att prata med någon som faktiskt är svart, men då kanske du inte får det svar du hoppas på.

    1. ebba skriver:

      Tanken med kollaget var ju att diskussionen skulle handla om vita personer med cornrows, därför valde jag att göra ett kollage med vita personer med cornrows, men förstår din poäng!
      Exakt, det är det som är så lurigt. när jag hade cornrows förra sommaren var det 100% vita personer som anmärkte på min frisyr trots att min följarskara är väldigt mixad. Det känns som att hela CA-debatten förs till alldeles för stor del av oss vita när det egentligen inte riktigt är oss den handlar om.
      De svarta personer jag diskuterat detta med har inte alls sett några problem med mina flätor, samtidigt kan ju inte ett par personer tala för en hel kultur.

  3. Jenna skriver:

    Have your hair however you want, don’t let a small amount of people dictate how you live your life. I never pay attention to any of this privilege crap because it’s a form of oppression, even though it’s from fringe and acute percentage of people. Tumblr is as toxic and hateful as 4chan in my opinion. As the great Shia LaBeouf once said, just do it.

    1. ebba skriver:

      It’s so hard to know what to think and where to draw the lines! For example, how many braids would it be okay for me to have? And shouldn’t there be many more hairstyles that has been used in oppressed cultures that should be banned if you want to be 100% ethical then? Ahh these questions really interest me!

      1. Jenna skriver:

        You’re honestly concerned about how many rows you have? Sorry if sounds rude, because it’s not meant to be, but that sounds like you’re trolling me. Next you’ll be worrying about the amount of holes on your belts in case that offends someone. Life is going to suck if you’re constantly walking on eggshells. No matter what you do there will be someone who is offended. Wearing the colour beige is going to somehow cause one SJW to burst out in tears and write a Tumblr post about it.

        I think it’s the quality of Google Translate, so pardon me if I didn’t fully understand what you said about banning haircuts. From what I did understand, however, I do not agree with it whatsoever. Should grade 1 haircuts be outlawed because they were given to prisoners in Nazi concentration camps? Absolutely not. Even though it was used to oppress a people in some way it doesn’t mean my uncle, or anyone else, can’t have that style.

        1. ebba skriver:

          That was a thought experiment to understand exactly what’s considered OK and not, not that I actually care about exactly how many braids I wear for my own sake but for the reactions from people around me. Thank you for sharing your opinions, it’s super interesting to read!

  4. Jasmine skriver:

    Läs på, lyssna på de med tolkningsföreträde, välj eventuellt något annat istället för cornrows. Tänker att det inte är någon stor uppoffring för att undvika skadlig appropriering (vilket är ett problem även i Europa; rasism, diskriminering och kulturell appropriering är inte begränsade till USA).

    1. ebba skriver:

      Exakt, det är så jag tänkt detta år då jag velat ha cornrows men valt bort det. Liksom, varför måste jag propsa på att ha flätor om det kanske finns människor som mår dåligt av det? Det är lite samma tänk jag har med att inte äta kött, varför ska jag äta en korv (även om jag tycker om korv) om det är lika lätt för mig att inte göra det när jag är medveten av hur djur och natur skadas av industrin?

  5. Rafaela M skriver:

    Hey Ebba! Here in Brazil this discussion is new, and half of our population are descendents of African people that came in the past. I’ve been reading somethings about cultural appropriation, some people are against, and in my opinion people are kind of ”overreacting”, because in fact our culture (at least in Brazil) is a mix of white and black culture, so it’s very inconvenient to say that ”because is a black caracterist, if you’re white, you can’t wear it”, ’cause all of our culture was formed in this mix.
    Anyway, if you were here, you could wear it with no problems. But I don’t know how this discussion is going in Europe..
    kisses!

    1. ebba skriver:

      Thanks Rafaela for letting me know that! It’s super interesting to read, and I totally agree that it’s less of a problem in Brazil. I think the question is a little harder to handle here in Europe, at least for me 🙂

  6. Emilie skriver:

    Hi Ebba – I think it’s great that you’re aware of these issues and that you bring them up on your blog. I don’t know exactly how cornrows are perceived, and I would agree with the first comment that the notions of cultural appropriation are most prevalent in the US. However, this does not mean that they don’t also apply to a European context. In my opinion, however, I would think it fine for you to get cornrows as long as you are aware of the problematics around such a decision, and it sounds like you are. If it’s an excuse for you to become more knowledgable on the issues at stake, then even better! I would think that it’s up to yourself to decide, not society, as long as you stay attuned to whichever debates your decision may create 🙂

  7. kristina skriver:

    i like it!!! just do what you love and makes u feel good <3

    xoxo.kristina
    http://blondefashiongeek.blogspot.co.il/

  8. Suki skriver:

    You can also thibk of it this way- i know that you want to be appropriate, you dont want to discriminate against black people, but if you do what a group of people think and dont make your cornrows, this is discriminating against white people, because they arent allowed to do what they want to either! Imagine that someone wants to wear a headscarf but gets bas reaction of it because he or she is not realigious, thats not the buisness of the person who wants it as long as he or she is happy with it. He or she should not be limited because of that. Your hair can get the form and style you want to and no one should have the right to say something, same goes for black people, they were oppresses for thausends of years, it is their right to chose how they want tl live. I am really sensitive to such stuff as well like yourself, but when it comes to judging such things you have to ask yourself (not a belief in society , because society changes but priorities should not) whether sth is right or wrongi

    1. ebba skriver:

      Thanks for sharing! 😀

  9. Philine skriver:

    I think you should not do it again! Because it is not on us as white privileged girls to decide if its cultural appropriation. I know black people in Germany who feel disrespectet by white people wearing cornrows and dreadlocks. There will be people seeing you on the street and they will feel offended. As you are already thinking about, it you can’t say ” I didn’t know about it”. So you have to decide if you want to look ”suuuuper cool” and accept to hurt somebody’s feelings because your look is more important to you. The problem is, wearing them is like saying ” i don’t care about cultural appropriation”.
    There are a lot of other hairstyles you didn’t tried yet 🙂 What about short hair if you are bored? Would be a shocker, but i am sure it would look great too.

    1. ebba skriver:

      Thanks for your thoughts. I really agree with all your saying and it made me think about it in a new way. 🙂

  10. MOA skriver:

    Jag skulle undvika cornrows även fast jag själv också tycker det är snyggt som fan. Men i och med att det mest är och har varit en stor del av den svarta kulturen då det är ett praktiskt sätt att hantera svartas hår så blir det lite fel när en använder det som en mode grej och det helt tappar sitt värde som det faktiskt har i den svarta kulturen. kolla in denna superbra videon om precis detta: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1KJRRSB_XA

    1. ebba skriver:

      Fattar precis vad du menar. Tack för tipset! <3

  11. Selina skriver:

    I’m so undecided on the subject. I do think you should wear any hairstyle you want but then there will always be someone who will dislike it for the cultural appropriation. I’ve seen many black women with milkmaid plaits across their head which is traditional European and nobody says anything about that because it’s a great way for these women to do their hair without damaging it too much. I just can;t decide whether it’s racist or not. No help to you I know but ultimately I think it is down to your individual interpretation

  12. Sars skriver:

    Jag tycker inte det är okej.
    Titta på denna video av Amandla Stenberg så kanske du förstår mer.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1KJRRSB_XA

  13. anonym skriver:

    The style originates in BC Egypt, so yes African, and has many and varied associations across multiple ethnicities; but there’s a lot more to get a lot angrier about than hair. If e.g. hip hop hadn’t been ’culturally appropriated’ by some white mega stars, it might not now be the biggest selling music form out there, or at least got there as fast. And that’s coming from someone who might be labelled by some as ’SJW.’ Bear in mind though that some people enjoy getting angry.

  14. Rosa skriver:

    I wouldn’t do it – there are multiple issues surrounding it and I don’t think it’s up to you as a white person to decide if you think it ”crosses a line” or not. The thing is, your options are to either take the cultural appropriation factor into consideration or not take it into consideration really… And I personally think you should. Yes, you can read up on what POC have said about cultural appropriation and its different forms, but even if individuals feel like it’s ok, it’s a wider issue than that.

    Also, I completely disagree with the person who said that this sort of thing is a form of oppression – it’s not. Oppression is systematic, structural, continuous discrimination and that’s not what this is about at all.

    1. Rosa skriver:

      With the last bit I was obviously referring to the comment about people ”dictating” what you (as a white person) do with your hair is somehow a form of oppression.

  15. Janne skriver:

    I would meet and ask an african / afroamerican hairstylist in Berlin to get more information about it.
    Also love the pictures you hace chosen as inspiration.

  16. Emma skriver:

    I don’t really know what to say about this whole cultural appropriation thing. These issues are all very complex and the perception of cultural appropriation changes with each person. In my opinion though, it’s much more beautiful on black girls, it’s kinda like dreadlocks or Afro, every time i see a white girl/boy wearing these types of haircuts, i just don’t think it suits them. There are exceptions of course, but most of the time it looks misplaced. It always looks like some kind of weird rebellion for privileged white kids… Maybe it’s because I’m not used to see these haircuts on fair skinned people. I think doing one side of your hair would be a good compromise and not look offensive in any way 🙂

    1. ebba skriver:

      Hi Emma! It’s okay to think what you want about the visual. But it was the etichal questions i wanted to focus on with this post. 🙂

  17. Karine skriver:

    Hej Ebba, in my opinion, you should totally do it if you want to. Not just for the sake of ”it’s my body and I do what I want with” (which I also approve), but also because I think discrimination issues will never progress if we respond negation with negation (aka hate with hate, etc.) ; to me the best way to diminish racism and discrimination is to mix, get to know the ”others”, and break the boxes. Everybody should be allowed to take the ”white dressing” codes, and everybody should be allowed to take the ”black dressing” codes (and the same should go for all the others cultures), until we stop seeing them as distinct, separated boxes that are exclusively linked with one culture, one group of people. Little by little, it will hopefully lighten their exclusive caracteristic, as well as their historical and political burden.
    I think it’s not an offense to wear cornrows as a white person, but rather a sign that you’re open into other ”cultural symbols”, which is positive. Besides, it’s a choice to see a hairstyle as political and/or personal, for you and for other people. You’re not responsible for other people’s way of seeing it. And you’re also not responsible for the fact that some people are seeing humans in distinct boxes, such as black, white (hetero, homo, handicaped, etc.).
    I understand that for some people it seems disrespectful to see a white priviledged woman ”taking” a bit of the black culture. But it’s wrong to agglomerate ; you as an individual are not responsible for all the injustices and discriminations that are commited to, in this case, the black community. Not to mention the past, where you didn’t even exist ! And the fact that you do or don’t wear cornrows is actually independant from your actions for or against discriminations, and it’s wrong if people make quick conclusions based on a hairstyle.
    Nu slutar jag min roman. Förlåt om jag låter som en lärare ! 🙁 Hoppas att du kan nu bilda din egen åsikt !
    Cheers 🙂

    1. Fantastic Mr. Fox skriver:

      Dear Mrs Karine,

      I absolutely agree with everything you write.

      Ebba, this kind of micro-thinking removes the focus from more important and stressing topics and. If you’re worried about being perceived as ignorent or racist – don’t be one! Make a good example via being informed, open and curious about other cultures and embrace them like your own. Help the people you believe are being oppressed actively instead of passively trying to ”not offend” them. People are dying in Africa as we speak, and it’s not because of your hair.

      Speaking as a fox, I can tell you, there are better ways of helpling animals than refusing to wear their dead furs.

      Fought for thought: Would you also feel like you were offending the homo-society via dressing queer? Then wouldn’t the Pride-festival be a hell of a CA

      All the best,

      Fantastic Mr. Fox

  18. Sarah Klarberg skriver:

    Kolla in instagramkontot makthavarna. ”Separatistisk plattform för personer som rasifieras. Gäller även kommentarsfält”. Jag var faktiskt också väldigt sugen på att skaffa det ett tag, speciellt när du lade upp bilder där du såg skitsnygg ut i det, men lät personligen bli efter jag läst diskussionerna där. Just nu är jag väl själv i ett läge där jag inte till fullo tagit ställning till vad jag tycker, men jag dömer inte vita som har det (inte min sak att göra ändå) men skaffar det inte själv. 🙂

  19. Ines skriver:

    Jag tycker inte att du ska ha det alls då det är oerhört problematiskt.

  20. Daisy skriver:

    Tycker du fått många bra svar men vill också förtydliga! Det är bra att du är öppen med frågan men bara det att du tänker att du kanske inte borde göra det just av dessa anledningar borde vara tillräckligt? Cornrows är inte ”bara en hårstil”. Det är en hårstil som för oss svarta är skyddande för håret, tillsammans med braids och andra hårstilar. När svarta har dessa är vi ghetto, har svårare att få jobb för att det inte anses som passande frisyr, etc. Medan när vita börjar ha det så blir det plötsligt trendigt, just för att vita bär det. Inte ens då slipper vi undan diskrimineringen ”bara på grund av hår” utan även om det är trendigt för vita att ha dessa frisyrer så fortsätter vi kämpa. Därför handlar det inte bara om hår, det är så mycket mer än så och därför är det så himla provocerande när vita ska ha det för att det är trendigt nu.

  21. Natalie skriver:

    Det är precis lika tillknäppt och nedtryckande att ”vita inte ska ha svartas frisyrer”. Vafan?
    Det finns INTE frisyrer som enbart är gjorda för svarta alternativt vita personer. Frisyrer är personlighet. Stil. Känsla. Bekvämlighet.
    Att du som vit inte skulle kunna ha detta pga. enbart gjort för svarta är mer rasistiskt anser jag. Ska det inte vara så att Vita och Svarta, mulatter och all kinda fucking people ska kunna ha ALLT, göra allt oberoende på hudfärg!?

  22. siri skriver:

    Jag tycker inte du ska skaffa det!

  23. R skriver:

    Vet du vad. Skit i allt förutom dina känslor. Du vill ha det och då ska du skaffa det. Människor kommer reagera olika men det är aldrig OKEJ att attackera någon även om den personen är vit. de som tycker det är dåligt kommer tycka det och det är ok. Du vet själv varför du har flätor och vad du vill med det. Man kan inte leva utan att röra om lite omkring sig.

  24. R skriver:

    Tänk på barn. De skulle aldrig shamea dig för att du har flätor. Det är bara vuxna som gör sånt.

  25. Marie skriver:

    Hallo Ebba! I just saw your Instagram picture and got curious. I think it’s great that you are showing concern and that you’re spending thoughts on decisions like this.

    I actually don’t have a say on this – I’m a white girl – but from what I’ve heard and read, I would not get dreadlocks. There are plenty of cool ways to experience new hairstyles without upsetting people. I feel as someone who already knows about cultural appropriation and who considers herself a feminist as well, it wouldn’t be okay to do it.

    I don’t regard this as a form of oppression, really.
    I think it’s a matter of respect.

    This hairstyle has been used in plenty of cultures, but apparently not ours, so it’s not up to us to decide if it is okay to wear it (I don’t understand why this is so hard to understand for many people here in the comment section).
    I study cultural anthropology (which is why this is going to be extremely long, I apologize haha), but this is something that is really easy to understand. If you want to appreciate a thing of a culture, listen to the people who belong to this culture. Listen to what THEY think is respectful! If you want to appreciate THEM, listen to THEM. This really applies to all sorts of items and things. Bindis, native headdresses, etc. Some people don’t want you to embrace their culture. If you ignore this, you are not being respectful and it’s not a good things whatsoever. (But on a sidenote, there is no such things as „white culture“, so things like jeans can’t be appropriated. Whites are not being oppressed. This does not mean that you can never have problems or anythings. It just means that you won’t experience racism.) It’s not discriminating that you are not allowed to wear certain things that don’t belong to you, but this is hard to grasp, because sacred items in our culture are rather rare and we are not used to something being „forbidden“ for us. I know that nowadays it’s seen as a positive things to say that you get in touch with a culture, that you want to embrace it and that you find it fascinating. But embracing can also mean to not do certain things. Read about the culture that fascinates you, get in touch with it. But do it the way that is perceived as respectful, and not what only you think is okay.

    I know that many people like to think they are being open and tolerant and totally not-racist when they say things like ”But we are all human! I don’t see color! Why do you distinct between people? It doesn’t matter what you are! (black/white/hetero/homo/trans/etc).” I get this point of view. I used to think like that, too. But the truth is, we are different and, more importantly, we are being treated differently. And this won’t go away by pretending that people are creating the problems by pointing them out. This is basically just acknowledging that you don’t care about the struggles they are facing. Don’t get me wrong, it would be amazing to reach this point where you actually can say this and it would be true. But right now, it’s not, and ignoring doesn’t help!
    Also, people of color don’t say „You are white, don’t wear that“, and decide to segregate themselves for fun. It’s more like this: „We have a history of being oppressed, which continues to this very day. When we do this hairstyle that belongs to our culture, we face discrimination but when you do it, you get praised. Don’t do it. This belongs to us.“ If you don’t like that they’re being angry, go ahead and research what makes them angry in the first place. The anger of the oppressed is something entirely different than the anger of the oppressor.

    I agree that we’re here in Europe and not the US and things here are different, but I don’t see why this should matter. When there are people being hurt, why would you ignore that?
    Also it’s interesting that your montage only showed white women wearing cornrows. I know that you probably did it because this relates to you, but it’s also evidence how little the people who this hairstyle actually belongs to get credited.
    This whole topic is pretty difficult. Of course, you having cornrows won’t lead to people not getting jobs or being discriminated. Of course, you are not responsible or at fault for the things that happened in the past.
    But as long as this does happen, that people of color have to face oppression while white people get praised for it, I would not do it, but instead be an ally and listen to them.

    Also, I realized that I said „you“ a lot of times in this text. This whole thing is not directly aimed at you, Ebba, I’ve been following your blog for years. English is not my native language (german is), so I struggle a bit with expressing myself. I do not intend to hurt you or to be aggressive towards you, I really hope you don’t see it this way! Much of this is just a general statement or a response to the comments I’ve read. It’s a topic that I’ve spent a lot of research on, so my rambling got a bit out of control, haha. I hope I haven’t bored or offended you- this is a bit of the knowledge that I have gathered. In the end, it’s your decision.
    Alles Liebe,
    Marie

  26. Rosa skriver:

    And here’s a bit of evidence about the discrimination black people face because of their hair: http://prettibutdeadly.tumblr.com/post/127032262147/and-this-is-why-black-girls-get-irritated-about and http://www.diversityinc.com/news/hairstyles-of-black-women-cases-of-discrimination/ (there are loads more of course, but always also worth reading the comment sections as people have shared their own experiences there as well)

    Additional reading: http://time.com/3107647/military-black-hairstyles/
    http://racism.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1554:blackwomenshair&catid=72&Itemid=215

    1. ebba skriver:

      Thanks for the links and you opinions. Hugs!

  27. Marjolein skriver:

    Jag tycker att det är jättebra att du tar upp diskussionen på din blogg, för att debatten då kanske når ut till en del ickemedvetna personer. Jag tycker också din plattform är en av de starkaste anledningarna till att du inte borde göra det. Jag (som vit privilegierad person) tycker att det absolut inte är okej för vita att ha cornrows eftersom det är definitionen av ca ungefär, men framförallt en publik person som du, som dessutom är såpass medveten om problematiken, borde avstå, eftersom det sänder signaler. Som modebloggare kan du bidra till trender och just den typen av appropriering som du vill undvika. En (vit) privatperson som vill ha cornrows är illa nog, men som offentlig person med en plattform inom modebranschen tycker jag extra mycket att du borde avstå, vilket jag är rätt övertygad om att du kommer göra baserat på dina svar på tidigare (mycket kloka) kommentarer 🙂

  28. There is definately a great deal to learn about this subject. I love all of the points you made.

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