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“Most people don’t see themselves as a racist but maybe instead as individuals who view people through society’s eyes.,” says Vox Media Cafe writer Charli. “Of course, most are unaware of it, but it relentlessly co-exists with them.”

Left to right: Myleena, Charli , Rachel, Jennie

Fashion, Racial Stereotypes and the Freedom to Like What You Like

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We all have our differences. It’s what defines us. It makes us us. Our own person in our eyes. We have the freedom to choose whatever we want. We have access to almost any clothing store in the world with all types of suits, dresses, shawls, blouses, and jewelry at our fingertips (if you have the money, of course). Upon further inspection, you’ll probably find many of the same types of people wearing the same types of clothing. Vineyard Vines being worn by white girls at your school, black girls choosing to wear Gucci flip flops and denim jackets. You’ll even find hairstyles that seem to stick with certain races, like female Latino teens wearing their hair long and straight.

Music isn’t much different. A labyrinth of tunes, each one special to us in it’s own way, or just a cute beat we want to dance to.  Some girls enjoy smooth jazz, a soft trumpet playing in the background. Others prefer hard rock, heavy metal-electric guitars echoing loudly throughout a room. Where am I going with all this? you might ask. Please, stay tuned, because I’m getting to the good part. 

If you were accused of being racist, you’d probably gasp in horror with wide eyes and beg to differ for an unreasonably long amount of time. Most people don’t see themselves as a racist but maybe instead as individuals who view people through society’s eyes. Of course, most are unaware of it, but it relentlessly co-exists with them. For starters, this could be categorized as racial profiling. 

If you were to see a Latino girl rocking it out to Queen, you’d probably be surprised. I mean after all, Queen is a white band, listened thoroughly by white fans. So why is this Latino girl listening to such a white band? The problem here is your usual assumption with music genres and their fan base. The fact that your judgement comes so naturally is what makes the other person feel so exposed. How would you feel if someone called you out for listening to your favorite band because of your complexion or culture? Pretty bad, right?

“Everyone should be able to wear whatever they want and be into whatever they want, no matter their race or gender. Fashion shouldn’t have a race. If a Latino girl wants to do Harajuku she should do it without negative people putting her down, saying she’s not acting ‘Latina.’ If a black girl wants to listen to music genres other than rap or R&B she should.” — Mimi (aka Babibratz), 18

 

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Imagine this: you’re walking through the city streets one day and you come across an odd group of teens. Each one of them Asian, but all wearing braids like it’s a normal day. At least for them it is, but for you and countless others, it’s probably going to be stuck in your memory for a long time, labeled as “completely out of the ordinary” and maybe even “just flat out wrong.” You wouldn’t tell them that, of course. That’d just be rude. But what makes silently judging them from your possibly corrupted point of view any different? That’s just it. It doesn’t. Not in the slightest. 

Here’s the question: are you offended in some way because this person’s clothing/music taste doesn’t associate with their race? Do you feel threatened by that? That maybe one day, they’ll all rebel and overthrow their own people’s taste and takeover all the others? Sounds crazy and stupid, right? Then why do people act like that’ll happen when they see something they think is weird? Anyone can put on a pair of basketball shorts and go on with their day. But if you’re a female Asian wearing it out in public, you’d probably get the stank-eye. What people don’t know is how much you could lower a girl’s self-esteem. 

“It’s as if our own race is stereotyping itself, which I find hypocritical because if someone were to make a stereotypical post about a race, that same race would get mad. So overall I think  a person of any race should be able to enjoy any/everything even if it’s not the typical stereotype that their race lives by.” — Mimi (aka Babibratz), 18

A lot of people assume that because we are interested in things that aren’t associated with our race/culture, that we want to completely throw away who we are. This is most definitely not the case. A Muslim girl who is interested in goth culture does not make her any less Muslim. It just makes her unique.

“When I first started developing my style, I always felt strange in my own skin. My style is mostly inspired by J-Fashion and grunge culture and I felt stupid for a long time because I thought that black girls weren’t supposed to be into these kinds of things. It never helped that my parents even think I want to become Japanese. They say things like ‘Isimiyaki, my little black Japanese girl’ or sometimes ‘Please stop trying to be Asian’ It hurts to the point where at times I want to give up my style but at the end of the day you have to do what makes you happy.” — Rachel Young, 16

 

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So before you jump to conclusions, think about how you’d feel if you were called out by society for the things that you love, the things that make you you, even if no words are said. People have the right and freedom to like whatever they want. There’s never been a law against it, and there certainly isn’t one now. What someone likes doesn’t change who or what they are, and it doesn’t make them anything less. It just makes them an interesting person you should treat with respect, as you do (hopefully) with others.

For more check out our interviews with Georgia State Students and Instagram Influencer Frokyo.

Also, listen to our podcast featuring the voices of four black girls and Adaku Oneyka, the Senior Counselor from The National Women’s Law Center in D.C.



VOX Media Cafe reporter Charli Brooks, 15, attends North Atlanta High is a rising sophomore.

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comments (8)

  1. Khadijah Kharleed-Hawkins

    The article was spot on! It was well thought out and written! Beautiful job!

    1. Charli Brooks

      Awww, thanks🥰🙏🏽

  2. Rasheedah Kharleed-Tedder

    Great article and it’s really so right about how most people think. Looking forward to listening to the Pocast.

    1. Charli

      Thank you! ☺️

      1. Fatimah Kharleed-Goode

        The article is very good and it is great to see young people so enlightened and aware of our beings. Continue to bring the light. ROCK ON.

  3. Chawk

    If only we could live free of society’s norms. But in saying this I understand we all need checks & balances. Live for who you are as long as it doesn’t hurt yourself or others!

  4. Emil(Cheyenne)

    Hey, this article I could relate to quite a bit. Similar to Rachel who’s draws from Japanese fashions—I draw from k-fashion. And sometimes wonder myself if is this what I SHOULD be doing. But I’ll end this by saying this hit a chord with me. And just glad I’m alone in feeling this way. Great job by the way!

    1. VOX ATL Post author

      You do you girl! 🤗