OPUS Mag

Far from timid • Caveat Lector

Dear, Marc Jacobs...Signed, A Black Man

Dear, Marc Jacobs...Signed, A Black Man

“All who cry ‘cultural appropriation’ or whatever nonsense about any race or skin color wearing their hair in any particular style or manner — funny how you don’t criticize women of color for straightening their hair. I respect and am inspired by people and how they look. I don’t see color or race — I see people.”

Dear Mr. Jacobs,

As you are well aware in the fashion industry people of a certain color or nationality have been marginalized with extreme prejudice. Just take a look at yourself and your peers and you can see the lack of representation. When you look at the models both male and female you can see it there too. The lack of inclusion doesn't stop there it also has shown itself when it comes to women of a certain size and weight as well. However you dismissed the idea of cultural appropriation when challenged by your blatant use of white models with the colorful Rastafarian style locks.

Dreadlocks or locks as it is called dates back to Ancient Egypt (Egypt is in Africa by the way) when the mummified remains of its people were found at archaeological sites. Rastafarianism was birthed in the 1930's when Ras Tafari was crowned emperor of Ethiopia. When the emperor was forced into exile during an invasion, guerrilla warriors swore not to cut their hair until the emperor was reinstated.

"The religion resonated with the ideologies of the day, for example socialism, Marxism, nationalism and black power. It was therefore, seen as a threat to Christianity and came under attack by the authorities that tried to suppress the 'Rasta' movement and imprisoned those who possessed 'ganja'. Rastafarians smoked cannabis because they thought it prompted a clearer state of well - being. Their dreadlocks were thought to be disgusting and frightening, hence the term 'dread' which was later reclaimed by the 'Rasta' community."

Mr. Jacobs if you choose not to honor the culture or it's origins you are appropriating said culture. Just like when Elizabeth Taylor played Cleopatra, white media and entertainment only wish to borrow and reinvent culture. I wonder how many people of color you employ as designers or models? I wonder if you are aware of the brothers and sisters with natural hair who are forced to tailor themselves to fit a white corporate image? Of course these are rhetorical questions because a worldly man such as yourself would have experienced the many cultures you choose to borrow from instead of cultivate. You see what most people like yourself do, is feign ignorance because it is more profitable to steal culture than it is to PAY the people you're stealing from. Instead you lie and say things as "I don't see color or race" as if you can't tell the difference between a white woman and a black one. No one can see race, I agree, race was assigned to the American people to divide us even further but color, ah as a creative person how can you deny color? You're in fashion Mr. Jacobs your eye is all about shades, hues, and how fabric dances delicately on skin. For you to deny your ability to see color is not only an insult to people's intelligence but a discredit to your work.

Also straight hair isn't white culture. Straight hair can grow out of the heads of people of all colors. For you to compare those ugly faux dreads your models wore to black women straightening their hair is not only ignorant; it's plain old wrong. People like you Mr. Jacobs; a man of wealth and experience will no longer be allowed to hide behind feigned ignorance. You can pretend all you want that you and your peers have never appropriated culture but I'm here to tell you to stop lying to yourself.

Signed, A Black Man

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