Friday, September 28, 2012

Dolce & Gabbana's Racist Earrings

There are times when you see something in the media that the shock of how visibly racist it is, is like a shot to the gut.  When it is followed by a denial, it adds incredible insult to injury.  During the showing of Dolce & Gabbana's, Summer/ Spring 2013 collection, they decided to reveal to the world their Blackamoor earrings.

Have a good look at the earring which the White model is wearing.  Do you want a closer look?

Can there be any doubt that this earring is racist as all get out? Don't they just scream mammy?  How could anyone create something like this and not see the racist nature of it?

The following is Dolce & Gabbana's response according to The Global Grind
The show jewelry is reminiscent of ornate ceramics that often appear in Sicilian homes, restaurants and hotels. The head is inspired by traditional Moorish people, a term used to describe the Medieval Muslim inhabitants of Sicily - a place that consistently inspires Dolce & Gabbana designs and the native country of Domenico Dolce. Traditionally, the heads are then covered with an Italian tin glaze that gives a shiny finish and painted in vibrant colors to symbolize stories and legends from Sicilian towns.
Right, so the fact that these earrings specifically turn Black women into a  racist caricature is acceptable because they are of a Sicilian origin.  Look, just because something has been historically acceptable, does not mean that it is acceptable in the modern world.  Culture constantly shifts and grows and this means the context that counts is the modern one. Even more importantly, nostalgia 
belongs to the privileged because it constantly harkens back to a time when they had more power than they did today. It quite specifically romanticizes the most brutal of oppressions.

When I look at that earring, what I see is the long suffering mammy, up in the big house cooking masters food.  I see her working on swollen feet, with no ownership of her body.  Images like this were readily deemed acceptable for years.




There have been countless products marketed with Mammy, with the most famous of course being Aunt Jemima and each and every single time, it was offensive and racist. What makes things different today, is that overt racism is far more likely to be called out than covert racism.  It is understood that such images are demeaning, though as Dolce and Gabbana proves, they are still deemed marketable.  

What Dolce & Gabbana should have done is apologize -- rather than justify -- but then that would mean admitting to racism. As we all know, being an admitted racist, has somehow been deemed worse than living with racism.  The fact that they put these earrings on a White model, compounded the offense -- as it turned an already problematic item -- into an extravaganza of White privilege.  You cannot change the historical context of mammy and even if it were possible, it is Black women who should be doing the reclaiming.  Mammy needs to be put to rest.