France’s Elle magazine is at the center of a firestorm after one of its writers made some racially bizarre comments in a blog about the Obamas and their fashion sense as it relates to African Americans, the Daily News reports.
The blog post, “Black Fashion Power,” written by Nathalie Dolivo, included a series of comments about the first lady, including that she took on the Jacqueline Onassis role in a “jazzy” way. “In this America led for the first time [by] a black president, the chic has become a plausible option for a community so far pegged to its codes [of] streetwear,” Dolivo wrote.
The most disturbing part of the post was when she said that the Obamas’ style of dress is “black-geoisie,” apparently meaning that they dress “white” while still holding on to their blackness. Their style “has integrated all the white codes of fashion,” but with “a bourgeois ethnic reference,” like a “batik-printed turban/robe, a shell necklace … ”
The backlash came quickly: “How, in 2012, in a France where there are at least three million blacks and mixed people, can you write such nonsense,” a commenter told French Elle. “You are too kind when you write that in 2012 we have incorporated the white codes … what do you think, in 2011, we dressed in hay and burlap bags?”
Here’s what one black French woman at Fashion Bomb Daily had to say: “The saddest thing is that this stupid journalist thought she was doing something positive for us. I’m sure that even educated French people wouldn’t see any offense in this. Yes this what we Black women in France live [with]!!! Sad truth.”
A month ago, a Dutch magazine called singer Rihanna an “Ultimate Nigga Bitch” and seemed to have a problem when it was criticized for doing so. Now we have another European magazine publishing racially offensive material. Does this blog writer really believe that blacks are suddenly adopting the proper way of dressing created by whites?
We wonder if the racial insensitivity that many blacks encounter in Europe has something to do with these countries never having had a civil rights movement. We do have one suggestion for European publications as a first step: Try truly diversifying your staffs, followed by some intensive diversity training.