Black People are the Blueprint 🤎
An article published in Gen Blk Zine.
Black Americans have always had so much to contribute to popular culture, yet our efforts to bring African American culture into mainstream media was thwarted by racism or our culture was stolen from us and renamed for the comfort of white people. This pattern has been happening for decades. As black people and black culture have become more accepted in American society, we have seen more of our customs and traditions be integrated into mainstream media, but the problem is that our ties to the trends are being lost. Because we are not given credit for the amount of our culture that exists in mainstream media today, it is important that we use Black History Month as a time to set the record straight and educate people. In popular culture of the past decade and even before, black people are the blueprint of some of the most popular trends. Here are examples of black slang, black fashion, and black hairstyles that are integral parts of current mainstream media:
1. The word “drip” or “drippy” is a slang term that is used to describe an outfit or item in fashion that is usually expensive and considered fashionable or trendy. What is or is not considered “drip” is usually determined by young people (a lot of influence comes from social media) and examples of “drippy” items are things like Air Jordan 1 sneakers, a real gold or silver chain link necklace (potentially encrusted with diamonds), and a trendy sweatshirt or clothing item from a popular designer. Many of the designers that are put in the category of “drippy” create more athleisure style wear, but “drip” is not limited to this category of clothing. According to dictionary.com, the origin of the word is debated. Many people think that the word comes from Black Atlanta rappers while others think it comes from New Jersey slang created in the 2010s. The term drip in recent years was revived and brought into mainstream media by Black rappers like Cardi B because of her 2018 song “Drip.” According to genius.com, rappers like Gunna and Lil Baby have also helped make the word more popular. The word “drip” became popular as rap music became the main music genre in mainstream media and popular culture.
2. Within the past few years, the word “periodt” has become a very popular word in mainstream slang. “Periodt” is used as an affirming statement to emphasize and express agreement. It is also used as a way to hype people up. For example, if you see the comment, “periodt!” under somebody’s Instagram post they are emphasizing the fact that the person looks great in the photo. It can also be used as a way to end a discussion with somebody. “Periodt” originates from the black community and was a common word used by Black women and gay Black men. The City Girls, a hip-hop/rap duo consisting of Yung Miami and JT, expanded the use of the phrase through their viral song “Act Up.” “Periodt” then trickled down into popular culture and is now a commonly used phrase among all young people.
1. One of the biggest fashion trends to have come from Black fashion culture is logomania. Logomania is when a brand or designer has their brand/logo displayed across the entire garment or very largely on the front of the clothing piece. According to purewow.com, Logomania became very popular in the 80s because of Black fashion designer Dapper Dan. Dapper Dan used knock-off designer fabrics and logos to create clothing items for hip-hop music artists. He used brands such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton. This created a trend of large logos being popular in fashion and in the hip-hop community. Because of legal issues surrounding his use of the knock-off fabrics, Dapper Dan was forced to stop creating. After Gucci copied Dan’s designs and public acknowledgment of his huge influence in the fashion community was beginning, Dan created a partnership with Gucci in 2018 and was able to design with them. Because of Dan and his influence, logos in the 2000s and 2010s became a part of not only the Black community but all of popular culture.
2. Oversized clothing is another very recent fashion trend that originated in Black fashion culture. Instead of wearing skinny jeans, tighter cropped jackets, and tighter tops, baggy jeans, oversized jackets, and big t-shirts have replaced these old trends. According to purewow.com, this trend originates from black hip-hop culture in the 80s and 90s. Struggling and emerging hip-hop artists during this time wore baggy clothes that did not fit properly because they were handed down to them from older family members. They continued to wear these baggy clothes on stage in order to connect with struggling fans, says purewow.com. This started a trend that made its way to the masses and joined mainstream media.
1. One of the most recent hairstyles that has trickled down from Black beauty culture is the styling of baby hairs. Baby hairs are the shorter pieces of fine hair along your hairline on the front and the side of your forehead. Almost everybody has baby hairs, but black women have been styling their baby hairs since the 70s, according to an article on ebony.com. To style your baby hairs you take gel or pomade and use a toothbrush or specific edge styling brush, to lay them down. You can lay them down straight into a slick ponytail or you can use the brush to create different types of swirls and designs that lay beautifully along your forehead and temples. Within the past few months, we have seen several non-black celebrities appropriate this hairstyle without knowing its history. Styling your baby hairs has trickled down into popular culture, but black celebrities and people on social media are trying to educate people on the cultural significance of baby hairs.
2. Cornrows are the most common example of cultural appropriation. Cornrows began in African tribes and were used as a protective and easily managed style, but different braiding patterns also represented various beliefs or life stages. They became a part of African American culture in the 60s as a way to stand against white beauty standards. Cornrows were then integrated into black popular culture and were worn by hip-hop artists and black celebrities. They used to be considered “ghetto” or “hood” by white people, but when the Kardashians appropriated this hairstyle, cornrows became a part of mainstream media. The problem is that cornrows were now called “boxer braids” as a way to erase their attachment to black culture.
When saying a word, choosing an outfit, or trying out a hairstyle, think about where that trend might have come from. Use Black History Month as a time to educate yourself on the impact black people have had on things you see, say, and wear every day.