Personally, I have been over the Kardashians for quite some time now. Their “paper thin” cover for adoration for all things Black culture-related is in all honesty cultural appropriation at its finest. The entire Kardashian klan has discovered a way to use Black culture to its advantage by aligning themselves with the trendsetters in black culture and positioning themselves as the “ultimate.” They date Black men, they wear Black hairstyles and use hip-hop culture as their playground. They have realized that African Americans are loyal consumers and they have reaped the benefits from appealing to that market. There is nothing wrong with any of this on paper, in fact it speaks to the business savvy of Kris Jenner and at this point the rest of the Kardashian brood, however, this new image with Khloe Kardashian standing over an androgynous looking model who kneels at her feet adoringly has pushed the boundaries.
Last year, there was outrage when Kendall and Kylie Jenner (the little sisters to Kim, Khloe and Kourtney) superimposed their images on faces of rock and hip-hop legends for a line of T-shirts. Although people spoke out against it and social media gave them a hard time, there wasn’t any real fallout. The Kardashians are known for capitalizing on pop culture trends that are associated with African American culture, however, instead of acknowledging their admiration and or respect for the culture, the Kardashians instead seek to take the credit as the originators because of their immense popularity, much of which has been gained because of their association with African American celebrities, athletes and influencers.
In addition to their brash approach to African American culture, the Kardashians are repeat offenders of disrespectful situations. Kylie was involved in a Pepsi commercial that trivialized imagery from the Black Lives Matter movement. Social media dragged both Pepsi and Kylie Jenner for their participation in the ad, which resulted in Pepsi apologizing and pulling the ad.
Being associated with numerous rappers, strippers and Black Hollywood A-listers has undoubtedly worked to establish the Kardashian brand, so to see Khloe standing over this Black model is beyond disrespectful. It would be nice to suggest that race doesn’t play a factor in any of this and that the picture is just a coincidence but that’s not the world that we live in. To see a privileged White woman standing over a Black model with piercings is a distinct sign that the artistic director, photographer and those involved in the imagery must take responsibility for. This image suggests the subject kneeling is inferior and the one standing is superior and is very irresponsible, especially in this political climate.
Whether or not this ad will be pulled remains to be seen, but what we do know is that the Kardashians have been warned numerous times about insensitive actions toward minorities. Perhaps they need a class on racial diversity and how to respect other cultures, etc.