I'm seriously over people picking apart situations that really aren't that deep and don't need a dissertation or think piece to accompany them.
Image Credit: Twitter, @hausmuva
A debate via Twitter exploded down the timeline that crossed into the realms of colorism/ classism, black sterotypes and the degradation of black women.
Here we have Nicki Minaj, the subject of a shoot with Elle Magazine. Kim Kimble, a famous celebrity hairstylist, stepping into the frame to do her job to ensure that her work is seen in its best light. Karl Lagereld, the creative director behind the shoot saw something beautiful in this set up and told Kimble to stay in the frame.
When I saw this image, I thought oh okay, Kim's fixing Nicki's hair. Some behind-the-scenes shot, maybe. I didn't feel like the image was degrading Kimble and displaying Nicki as a high-class, aristocrat who has her maid come in and cater to her needs. I didn't get Mammy vibes. I didn't get a dark-skinned woman being shown as lesser because of her stature and a light-skinned woman being better than because of her appearance and long, straightened hair. I saw a woman being paid to do her job and taking pride in her craft. In this image, two women who are both very wealthy and dominating in their respective fields doing what they came on set to do. The fact that this captured moment is being stripped down to tired archetypes of light-skinned versus dark-skinned women is indicative of a bigger issue. Deep down, these illustrations and situations of classism and colorism are so ingrained in the minds of black people that we can't take things for what they are. A narrative was created here that sparked a conversation that wasn't helpful or necessary.
If we wanted to have a conversation about Lagerfeld and the photographer that made this image possible, we definitely can. Lagerfeld has consistently been problematic for years. Was this his intention with this photo? Was he seeking to perpetuate a negative narrative to stir things up? I wouldn't put it past him, but we'll never really know.
To lend a hand to understanding both sides, I get it: optics matter. There is the assumption that the average person knows who Kimble is, so they simply see a dark-skinned woman being of service to Nicki Minaj, a light-skinned woman. This is exactly how they views us. To me, that's a lazy argument. The only ones arguing about this is us, so is it really just them who believes this narrative? All of that still lends to the idea that the -isms at play have power over our minds, and we allow them to take over every time. Everything is made into a race issue, whether valid or not. It's one thing to recognize that there are outside things at play in a situation; it's an entirely different thing to give power to those things and further perpetuate them.
The way that this image was broken down was a lot, and the mental gymnastics being exercised here are exhausting. It's a shame that these -isms are embedded so deeply in our minds that we always see an issue with something innocent; it is truly sad. An organic moment captured on set was turned into a master/ servant narrative because people can't let go of these types of prejudices, and that's damaging. Kim Kimble, despite her success and stature her industry, was reduced down to her skin color and a tired stereotype, saying a lot more about how dark-skinned women are viewed in society.
Are we seriously that pressed for controversy and to be "woke?"
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