Kendall and Kylie are culture vultures

Kendall and Kylie Jenner are notorious for intertwining themselves into the cracks of black culture. The duo has a reputation for seeing the work of people of color and repackaging it for the consumption of their loyal following.

It is time to stop buying into the idea that two privileged white girls from one of the most expensive zip codes in America are somehow down with identities they’ve never even seen in real life.  

I’ve always known that freedom comes with a fee, but my culture is a commodity I won’t allow to be taxed.

Kendall and Kylie launched t-shirts for their brand, which is sold online and at PacSun, superimposing their Instagram pictures over the faces of Biggie and Tupac.

To fully appreciate the two artists’ impact on African-American and hip hop culture is to not have to use RapGenius to understand their lyrics. To put your image over the faces of individuals who defined an era of east coast / west coast rivalry that so many grew up with is to literally put yourself above their legacies.

I wish I could say this was their first offense, but it’s just one of dozens. Again for their fashion line, Kendall models a flannel buttoned only at the top like the cholas she’s probably only seen on TV, paired with hoops bigger than the ones black girls are called ghetto for wearing. 

Kendall and Kylie repackage “hood” fashion, sprinkle their privilege on top and sell it to make millions. Meanwhile, the people they draw inspiration from are compensated with discrimination and violence while they watch others wear their culture like a costume.

Perhaps the most painful offense is Kendall’s Pepsi ad. In the commercial, Kendall arrives at a protest that resembles a Black Lives Matter demonstration. She walks to the front of the crowd where there seems to be tension between protesters and police, hands a cop a Pepsi and creates world peace.

If only it were that simple.

Kendall inserted herself in the front of a conversation she never had a place in to begin with. In the wake of political and social turmoil revolving around police brutality and immigrants’ rights, she undermined struggles and showed a complete lack of understanding and empathy.

After the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the ad on social media, Kendall said “I feel like my life is over.”

Trayvon Martin’s life is actually over. Eric Garner, Philando Castille and Sandra Bland don’t get to come back. They were killed by police, and not because they didn’t have a Pepsi. For them, black culture wasn’t something to turn on or turn off or flip for a dollar. They don’t get to choose when they want to be black. They were killed for it.

When they took us from our land, all we had was ourselves. As our spines bent daily to work their fields, we lifted our spirits with rhythms and hymns.  We were given scraps and made delicacies. We took the beats of our ancestors and created one of the most influential music genres. We set trends for an entire country, create stories that become headlines.

Five generations after slavery and we are told to get over it. Now, we are said to have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So why are they still stealing from us?

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