Why Can’t the Kardashian Jenners Stop Appropriating Black Culture

Oh, boy. Today in Kardashian news Kim Kardashian released the first promo for her new beauty line KKW and it very clearly showcases Kardashian in a much darker skin tone than she actually has. Fans have already called her out for using blackface to promote her new products.

This comes on the heels of her sister Kylie Jenner’s own controversy: Jenner launched a line of camo bikinis, which very clearly resemble those worn by Destiny’s Child in their Survivor music video back in the day. This was just the latest in cultural appropriations by Jenner, who often wears her hair in cornrows, a hairstyle for which many black women have been banned or even fired for their jobs for wearing.

At this point, you’re probably thinking, WTF?

Yeah, us too.

We’d like to remind you that Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe are all half Caucasian and half Armenian and Kylie and Kendall are 100% Caucasian. In other words, none of the four sisters have any cultural right to exploit black culture.

kylie jenner cornrows

So why, even when they get dragged on social media and called out in the media for appropriating black culture do they get away with it? And why do they continue to do it?

Well, because they can. As you already know, being a white woman comes with a lot of privileges. It means you can drive your car and not get pulled over by a cop; it means you can walk down the street wearing a hoodie with the hood up and not look suspicious, it means you can don cornrows and not be considered to “look criminal” or “like a thug.”

In other words, the Kardashian/Jenners get to have their cake and eat it too: they get to have all the privileges of being a white woman while exploiting aspects of black culture as they like. They get to pick and choose the pieces of black culture that they want without having to face any of the racism that comes along with it.

As for why they get to keep doing it, there simply is never enough of a backlash to stop them. Despite the negative press, despite the haters, their show Keeping Up with the Kardashians is currently in its 13th season. Kylie Jenner’s cosmetics sold enough to make her the youngest member of the Forbes 100 list this year and she’s getting her own KUWTK spinoff this fall.

Of course, it wouldn’t be fair to say that the Kardashian/Jenners are the only celebrities to do this, they’re simply the most famous, or perhaps just the most unapologetic about it. While public pressure will convince others to apologize for their wrongdoings (see: Pharrell Williams for the Native American headdress he donned on Elle or the yellow face Karlie Kloss wore for Vogue), Kim nor Kylie ever come out with a public statement for what they’ve done. And they probably won’t anytime soon.

Lena Finkel
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, Tiger Beat, and Sesame Workshop (aka Sesame Street). She loves all things Real Housewives and Vanderpump Rules. When she's not busy binge-watching TV, you can find her hanging out with her tuxedo cat Tom.