All I keep thinking is that famously succinct, but potent statement that legendary comedian, Paul Mooney made once on the “Dave Chappelle Show,” “Everybody wanna be a n*gga, but nobody wants to be a n*gga.” Hina is a 23-year-old Japanese woman who works at a trendy Tokyo boutique called Baby Shoop (tagline: “Black For Life). Why do we know her? Because Dutch photographer, Desiré van den Berg has spent the past seven months traveling around Asia and while in Tokyo last year, she met Hina. And it was Hina’s loyalty to a Japanese trend called “B-Style–” this combination of the words “Black” and “lifestyle” refers to a subculture of young Japanese people who love American hip-hop culture so much that they do everything in their power to look as African American as possible.
Hina describes the products in her store as “a tribute to Black culture: the music, the fashion, and style of dance.” In an interview with Vice Magazine, Desiré van den Berg said that:
Hina, for example, visits a tanning salon every week to darken her skin. I was surprised these tanning salons even exist, because in Japan it is a classic beauty ideal to have your skin be as pale as possible.
Just to be clear: Hina is 100 percent Japanese and naturally has pale skin. She is only dark because of the sunbed and the use of really dark foundation. B-stylers also listen to hip-hop, and visit special African hair salons to get braids or curly hair. These salons are usually found in Tokyo’s ghettos and are run by small African communities. Hina wears colored contact lenses: they are a lighter shade of brown to make her eyes seem bigger.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…and annoyance. As a tastemaker, I’ve grown accustomed to influencing culture and having someone imitate me is flattering, but at the same time, I’m like, “It’s ok to have you own style…” I don’t look down on these B-Styler kids for wanting to be Black, however, it seems their appropriation of our culture is only surface level. They just want to look like us, but they don’t want to adopt our every disadvantage. Blacks have significantly lower income and wealth, higher levels of poverty and even shorter life spans, among many other disparities, compared to other races.
There’s a thin line between tribute and imitation, in this case especially. I’m not offended by the B-Stylers wanting to emulate our culture, I just don’t see what the purpose is. What do you beauties think?
Check out more B-Stylers:
Check Out This Gallery Of Culture Borrowing:
The Best Of The Worst Of Culture Borrowing
1. Ethnic Borrowing
Popular culture is infamous for borrowing, and sometimes outright stealing elements from a subculture and transforming them into something completely stripped of its origins. From cornrows to the N-word, non-Blacks have tried to strip us of our culture. Check out a few culturally Black things that other cultures have tried to steal.
2. Lorde covers Jeremih's Don't Tell 'Em in the Live Lounge
Just...no. From the little bop she's doing to the way she makes the song the creepiest thing we've ever heard...just no. Don't tell 'em? Nah, somebody tell Jeremih.
3. Thug Kitchen
It was recently revealed that the people behind the "Thug Kitchen" brand are indeed White. With a tagline line: "Eat like you give a f*ck," one would assume the opposite. This brand feels like it's making Black people more the butt of the joke, then allowing us to be in on it. Read more: http://bit.ly/YI5AdG
4. J. Lo & Iggy Azalea "Booty"
The New York Times was late to the booty appreciation party that has been going on for a lot longer than J. Lo's career. But they praised her for allowing us to fully appreciate the "year of the booty." It had to be her video with Iggy Azalea, so perfectly titled, "Booty."
5. Taylor Swift's Twerk Team
Taylor's latest video looks oddly familiar, but it looks like the joke is on us. The country singer featured random twerk dancers in her video for "Shake It Off." She was clearly being silly in the video, pretending to not know how to dance, but did she need to have Black women shaking their behinds in the camera? Whatever her reasoning was, the clip isn't funny.
6. Katy Perry's "This Is How We Do"
Perry released the video for, “This Is How We Do,” and we’re scratching our heads trying to figure out what the hell is going on. The “Prismatic” star rocks cornrows, gelled down baby hairs and acrylic tips in the clip. She posed with watermelon and engaged with animated figures that twerked. “Yo, shout out to all you kids, buying bottle service, with your rent money/Respect,” she sings. Have a seat!
7. Katy Perry's Bootylicious Mummies
Katy's dancers are far more bodacious than any dancer you've ever seen on stage, but why? Many would label this creating a caricature out of the Black woman, and they may be right, however, we don't have the energy to take Katy's lost soul to task over this faux pas.
8. Epic Braids
While Kendall Jenner looks absolutely adorable in her braids, Marie Claire's over-the-top description of said cornrows was what lit the internet on fire. "EPIC," they called the braids and Black people everywhere were like, "We've been doing this for years."
9. Full Lips
From Angelina Jolie to the whole Kardashian Klan, full lips have become an obsession for everyone who is not blessed enough to be born with them. But in the quest for getting those lips, many patients end up looking like...
10. Our Skin Tone
Black sure is beautiful--just ask everyone who has ever laid down in a tanning bed, attempting to darken their skin. We've seen several instances where Black people ave attempted to lighten their skin, thinking that light is right. But it's obvious that the darker the berry is the desire. Blackface is certainly offensive, but maybe it's White people's not-so-sneaky way of getting closer to dark skin?
I'm all about diversity, however Hip-Hop is our genre. Can't we just have this? Love you Eminem and Bubba Sparks, you're alright...and don't even get me started on Macklemore.
12. Kanye West
"When they get on, they leave your ass for a White girl." And Kanye did. Well, Kim is Armenian, so kinda. But has anyone noticed Kanye's very different valley-like voice in interviews lately? They've officially taken him.
While Robin Thicke and Justin Timberlake are two of my favorite crooners out, I feel like they were allowed to take over R&B after many Black R&B singers migrated to EDM and more techno sounds. We deserve some Marvin Gayes, Al Greens and Sam Cookes in our generation.
14. Harlem Shake
The Harlem Shake originated as a dance on the Harlem basketball courts. However, a group of White kids made the dance go viral with the upload of one of the most random videos ever. The new craze had absolutely nothing to do with the dance it was named after. So why couldn't they have named it something else?
Twerking's roots go way beyond Usher singing about it on 8701. It goes back to slavery and a dancing of expression. These days, artists like Miley Cyrus have made it into a too-taboo dance that is most appropriate in ratchet clubs.