White women accused of cultural appropriation are being told to scrap their ‘hoop earrings’ after a group of Latino women wrote, “’White Girl, take off your hoops” on a ‘free wall’ used for unmoderated free speech at Pitzer College in Los Angeles, California.
The message was written after a group of students, identifying themselves as women of color,started to complain that they felt that ‘black and brown folks’ were being exploited by white women. For instance, clothing lines that typically cater to white women such as Marc Jacobs are trying to push the new trend of hoop earrings in their Fall 2017 collection.
It wasn’t untill one student was confused by the message, that Alegria Martinez, Jacquelyn Aguilera, and Stefania Gallo-Gonzalez explained to the school through email, the meaning behind the ‘artwork’.
Martinez, an active member of the Latinx Student Union, wrote an email to the entire student body explaining that hoop earrings are just one accessory appropriated by white people.
“The art was created by myself and a few other WOC [women of color] after being tired and annoyed with the reoccurring theme of white women appropriating styles that belong to the black and brown folks who created the culture.”
“The culture actually comes from a historical background of oppression and exclusion.” She adds, “The black and brown bodies who typically wear hooped earrings, (and other accessories like winged eyeliner, gold name plate necklaces, etc) are typically viewed as ghetto, and are not taken seriously by others in their daily lives.”
“Because of this, I see our winged eyeliner, lined lips, and big hoop earrings serving as symbols as an everyday act of resistance, especially here at the Claremont Colleges.”
“Meanwhile we wonder, why should white girls be able to take part in this culture (wearing hoop earrings just being one case of it) and be seen as cute/aesthetic/ethnic.”
“White people have actually exploited the culture and made it into fashion,” she said.
After the incident received national media attention, Martinez, Aguilera, and Gallo-Gonzalez say they have been harassed by ‘right-wing’ groups and individuals. They have even received death threats through Facebook messenger.
As a result, college President Melvin L. Oliver issued a statement condemning the ‘cycle of violent hate speech’ directed at students.