Black and Latinx students at a California college are fed up with cultural appropriation on their campus and they have a message for the accused — “White Girl, take off your hoops!!!”
Women of color enrolled at Pitzer College spray-painted the demand onto a wall dedicated to free speech. After a Caucasian student reportedly expressed confusion over the message, Latina students — Alegria Martinez, Jacquelyn Aguilera, and Stefania Gallo-Gonzalez — offered up an explanation to the meaning behind their artwork, reported the Claremont Independent.
“The culture actually comes from a historical background of oppression and exclusion.
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,” Martinez wrote in an email to the entire student body.”
Martinez is an active member of the Latinx Student Union.
She continued, “Because of this, I see our winged eyeliner, lined lips, and big hoop earrings serving as symbols [and] 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.”
Aguilera echoed similar sentiments, writing: “If you didn’t create the culture as a coping mechanism for marginalization, take off those hoops, if your feminism isn’t intersectional take off those hoops, if you try to wear mi cultura when the creators can no longer afford it, take off those hoops, if you are incapable of using a search engine and expect other people to educate you, take off those hoops, if you can’t pronounce my name or spell it … take off those hoops / I use “those” instead of “your” because hoops were never “yours” to begin with.”
While the artwork has caused an uproar — they have allegedly received a death threat — the three artists do not want negativity to drown out the purpose of the mural: to bring attention to those often invisible at Pitzer College.
“The true meaning of the mural was to reflect the discrimination that women and nonbinary femmes of color face on college campuses when they are rendered invisible. The mural was not meant to police white women but serve as a form of education,” the trio said in a statement to LatinoRebels.com
They explained that white women do not face the same repercussions (i.e. social immobility) for adopting Black and Latinx culture, which would’ve been deemed inferior when on the originators’ skin.
“As long as we conform to their standards, our existences can be legitimized, our voices can be heard and our contributions can be deemed as worthy by the white classmates and faculty that dominate academic spaces,” read the statement. “If we don’t conform, it becomes difficult to access campus resources, find job opportunities and create professional networks.”
The statement went on to say, “On the other hand, white upper-class elite women are able to appropriate fashion created by marginalized groups with no consequences to their well-being, social acceptance, and academic success.”
In conclusion, the women said their artwork was minute in comparison to the troubles minority women face with President Donald Trump.