French Elle writer Nathalie Dolivo is so happy about black people! She’s thrilled that they’ve finally learned to dress well! Yes, after generations mired in baggy pants and rap music and such, they finally have Barack and Michelle Obama to look to. Thanks, Obamas! You’re stylish black people and now other black people can be stylish, too.
See how racist that was? We’re paraphrasing, but it’s not far off from what Dolivo actually said:
In this America led for the first time a black president, the chic has become a plausible option for a community so far pegged to its codes [of] streetwear … But if in 2012 the “black-geoisie” has integrated all the white codes, it does not [do so] literally. [There] is always a classic twist, with a bourgeois ethnic reference (a batik-printed turban/robe, a shell necklace, a ‘créole de rappeur’) that recalls the roots.
So, thanks to the Obamas, black people can dress like white people, with an “ethnic” spin. Like a turban!
That excerpt is from a post written by Dolivo for French Elle called (wait for it) “Black Fashion Power,” which manages to cram an insulting misappropriation into even just the title! There are some amazingly stupid thoughts on display in Dolivo’s post (why did we need to coin the term black-geosie?) but perhaps the most insulting is the suggestion that black people need to be taught by example. That before the Obamas, they were just toiling in their streetwear, waiting to be led. [tagbox tag="racism"]
One French Elle commenter (via NYMag) distilled the insult of Dolivo’s nonsense beautifully:
“How, in 2012, in a France where there are at least three million blacks and mixed people, can you write such nonsense? You are too kind when you write that in 2012 we have incorporated the white codes … what do you think, in 2011, we dressed in hay and burlap bags?”
We’re hoping sometimes things get lost in translation, but–as was the case with that Rihanna “nigga bitch” debacle a month ago–we’re betting this has more to do with racism, which isn’t uncommon in the fashion industry. Anyway, we’ll let you know when Dolivo issues her apology (/announces her resignation?). Expect phrases like “deeply regret” or “never intended to hurt.”