Musicians and designers make culturally insensitive decisions


Model Karlie Kloss modeled the controversial Victoria Secret look.

A couple years ago, it seemed like people displayed their latent racism during Halloween.

Every year, some guy would dress up like Lil Wayne including his teardrop, his grill, his dreads and his black skin. They would dig up some blackface paint and smear it all over their faces. 

But that was only during Halloween.

Despite the thousands of terribly insensitive examples, the most troubling displays of ignorance are in recent fashion shows and music videos by beloved celebrities and innovators.

In late September, Dolce & Gabbana debuted their spring 2013 line at Milan Fashion Week. Amid the vibrant colors, detailed patterns and interesting textures was one repeated image: the mammy figure.

Hanging from the ears of models and printed on the outfits was the image of the mammy, the stereotypical caricature of a female African servant. 

From her incredibly dark skin to her massive lips to the fruit on her head, this image was a mammy.

After a literal decade of anticipation, No Doubt released their new studio album on Sept. 25. On Nov. 3, the band released the video for their newest single “Looking Hot.”

Fans watched as Gwen Stefani sang in the desert dressed as a Native American woman. Meaning she was wearing a bikini while riding a white horse then later posing in a teepee with a wolf.

At one point, in the video her band mates tied her up in the town square as if they were going to publicly shoot her for being Native American. 

It is one thing to be dressed as Native Americans, but to have Gwen Stefani tied up was quite offensive.

The video has since been pulled.

On Nov. 4, Victoria Secret fashion show was pre-taped. The show will not officially be aired until Dec. 4; however, the company has already had to remove one of their featured looks from the broadcast.

In some weird attempt to honor Thanksgiving, model Karlie Kloss strutted down the runway in a fringe bikini adorned with turquoise jewelry and a gigantic feather headdress placed sassily on her head.

The feather headdress is actually one of the most sacred regalia in Native American culture. It is a symbolic adornment that must be is earned. 

This ceremonial piece was worn exclusively by men who were regarded as the most respected and powerful in a tribe.

Both Victoria’s Secret and No Doubt have issued public apologies. Essentially, both claimed to not realize their images were offensive.

Here’s the thing: feigning unawareness over the display of racism and ignorance of their product does not absolve them of their racism. 

Claiming that they did not know just reinforces that they have no respect for any culture/race/sexual orientation/religion other than their own.

If their frame of reference is only within their homogenous group then they are just ignorant. 

Not all consumers look the same. To assume that their only demographic looks like them is not acceptable.

Also, anyone who tries to claim that none of these situations depict racism, or that people are too sensitive these days, has obviously never been discriminated against.

No one is overreacting. Not enough people are reacting.