D&G: Racist Fashion?

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D&G: Racist Fashion?

Did Dolce & Gabbana send racist earrings down the catwalk? | Fashion | guardian.co.uk

Drawing inspiration from their native home of Sicily has been a long running theme for Dolce & Gabbana and their spring/summer collections have become known for vibrant, vintage-inspired prints and kitsch accessories. Last year they sent pasta and aubergine-shaped earrings down the runway, so it would only be fitting for them to match it with something equally as wacky this year. And what's wackier than a racist caricature of a black woman dangling from your earlobes? Aren't they adorable? Oh, and there's a dress to match too, so you can go for the full clueless colonial look if you want to.

The earrings are reminiscent of Blackamoor statues that can be found in Italy, but more recognisably to non-Italians, Aunt Jemima dolls. That's the same Aunt Jemima that, initially conceived as part of a minstrel show, became an image that romanticised slavery and plantation life. There's no denying they're offensive. But what's perhaps even more shocking is that no one highlighted this before the show. From the production to the fitting, was there really no one to point this out before they hit the catwalk?

Some might argue that they're harmless, even cute, but there's nothing cute about two white men selling minstrel earrings to a majority non-black audience. There wasn't a single black model in Dolce & Gabbana's show, and it's hard not to be appalled by the transparent exoticism in sending the only black faces down the runway in the form of earrings. Pandering to a long-gone era is hardly surprising in 2012, when people can't even take a photo of a baby without sticking a "vintage" sepia filter on top. Bygone eras and cultures are constantly drawn on by fashion designers to re-appropriate on a whim. But when you're explicitly pandering to such a shameful era of western racism and colonialism, it's time to move on to the future.

Google search that shows the earrings and cloth patterns in question. Racist? Cute? Other thoughts?

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I am not sure if I find them racist? Cute no, but typically catwalk things are meant to be a bit over the top

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It definitely reminds me of the "Mammy" art that you can still see sometimes in antique shops and online, which I do think is racist because it basically glorified slavery and then later the Jim Crow era. It's not just that they are depicting black people, it's more that there is something about these peices that feels kind of exploitive.

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Ugly... yes. Racist... No. If it was a Barbie head instead no one would be saying a word.

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Would you call these racist? I don't see how they are any different.



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They weren't even all black. Nope I don't see how it was racist.

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I think the racist connotation is because of context. Again, a Mammy doll (which is what this reminds me of) is racist where a Barbie doll is not because "Mammy" is a character that was used by whites to imply that black people were inferior and also that they reveled in their servitude to white people. Barbie doesn't have such a checkered past. I don't know enough about the sociology behind the other peices you posted to comment whether or not they are racist. If they were used in the past to perpetrate racial stereotypes in the culture in which they were made, then yes, they probably are. If not, probably not.

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I don't know if they are racist or not. They are definitely not something I'd wear - ever; not because they are black people but because they are people. I typically try to avoid hanging people from my earlobes.

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I think the racist connotation is because of context. Again, a Mammy doll (which is what this reminds me of) is racist where a Barbie doll is not because "Mammy" is a character that was used by whites to imply that black people were inferior and also that they reveled in their servitude to white people. Barbie doesn't have such a checkered past. I don't know enough about the sociology behind the other peices you posted to comment whether or not they are racist. If they were used in the past to perpetrate racial stereotypes in the culture in which they were made, then yes, they probably are. If not, probably not.

Would it make any difference if the earrings had been worn by a black model?

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"myyams" wrote:

Would it make any difference if the earrings had been worn by a black model?

I don't know, I think it would be interesting. I read that there are actually a lot of African Americans that collect the old "Mammy" type memorabilia that do it from a sort of "never forget" type of POV. I think....it's kind of like trying to reclaim the imagery that has been put out there about your people, which is okay, but doesn't necessarily make it okay for other people (outside of your group) to do it.

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I don't know, I think it would be interesting. I read that there are actually a lot of African Americans that collect the old "Mammy" type memorabilia that do it from a sort of "never forget" type of POV. I think....it's kind of like trying to reclaim the imagery that has been put out there about your people, which is okay, but doesn't necessarily make it okay for other people (outside of your group) to do it.

So it's sort of like how black gang like people can use the N word but others shouldn't due to historical context.

I'm not sure still about it being racist; I'm still out on this. I think it's extremely (culturally and every way) tacky for sure and plain ODD.

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The author must never have been to Jamaica, they sell these and wear them everywhere...and have been since at least 2005. She's way behind, as are D&G I guess.

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I don't know, I think it would be interesting. I read that there are actually a lot of African Americans that collect the old "Mammy" type memorabilia that do it from a sort of "never forget" type of POV. I think....it's kind of like trying to reclaim the imagery that has been put out there about your people, which is okay, but doesn't necessarily make it okay for other people (outside of your group) to do it.

My grandmother used to collect a lot of the Mammie memorabilia. She lived on a large working ranch in Texas and had a "Nanny" that was African American that she loved more then her own mother.

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I think the racist connotation is because of context. Again, a Mammy doll (which is what this reminds me of) is racist where a Barbie doll is not because "Mammy" is a character that was used by whites to imply that black people were inferior and also that they reveled in their servitude to white people. Barbie doesn't have such a checkered past. I don't know enough about the sociology behind the other peices you posted to comment whether or not they are racist. If they were used in the past to perpetrate racial stereotypes in the culture in which they were made, then yes, they probably are. If not, probably not.

I collect Madame Alexander dolls. They have a collection of dolls representing countries with their native dress. The Dutch Doll has little wooden shoes, the African doll has a headwrap much like this earring, as does the Brazilian doll. Each has the native dress from their country. That is not racist. It is cultural.

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I think the aspect that has me not sure is I kind of feel like if the earrings are to be called racist, there should be an attachment of the wearer in a negative connotation toward Black people. I'm not sure that is happening. To me these look more tropical or Caribbean like than the mammie plantation kind of projection. I know a lot of slavery existed in the islands, but something doesn't scream racism to me. But I am white and so I might not be offended unless it was extremely obvious and I knew the intent etc.

ETA I just saw Gloria's picture of the White person earrings. See it's just Island-like decor, making a whole Island look. That's what I see anyway.

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Gloria - I agree that your Madame Alexander dolls are not racist.

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I don't like the earrings and I've been thinking about it for a few days. I'm not sure I immediately would jump to racist but I see that side now.

Gloria~your collection is not racist.

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If the dolls aren't racist I don't see how the earrings are. It is the same thing.

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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

If the dolls aren't racist I don't see how the earrings are. It is the same thing.

I don't think it is the same thing. Not neccessarily anyway. I think the historical context of the image does matter, at least to a certain extent. I don't think that your Madame Alexander dolls have an historical context. I'm not sure that these earrings do either, since they aren't explicitly "Mammy" images, that's just what they remind me of. "Mammy" is totally racist, again, because it was an image that white people came up with to portray blacks as reveling in their servitude to whites. Basically, "Mammy" made it sound like (to white people, anyway) that slavery wasn't so bad because slaves were just like part of the family who loved their masters but knew their place....you know what I mean? I will admit that these earrings are grey area though, since I don't think they are actually meant to depict Mammy, they're just kind of poorly thought out. Smile

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What about the Aunt Jemima pancake mix and syrup?
Aunt Jemima—Original

Racist?

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"boilermaker" wrote:

What about the Aunt Jemima pancake mix and syrup?
Aunt Jemima—Original

Racist?

That just looks like a regular lady to me. Would have to look back at the history behind the image, but assuming they didn't use it as a way to infer that blacks were inferior, probably not.

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

That just looks like a regular lady to me. Would have to look back at the history behind the image, but assuming they didn't use it as a way to infer that blacks were inferior, probably not.

See how syrup bottles and pancake products have changed...

old aunt jemima syrup bottle - Google Search