Columbusing Our Culture: How Bantu Knots Became Mini Buns

I was having a good day, until this link scrolled down my timeline. I did not want to believe it. I have seen the white fashion world try to lay claim to baby hair, cornrows and durags I guess I should have known they would Columbus bantu knots as well.

Bantu KnotsMane Addicts blog presents a how to on achieving these twisted mini buns inspired by Marc Jacobs. I guffawed so obnoxiously as tears ran from my eyes. They have got to be kidding. Bantu knots, a style I have worn my hair in since childhood, one of the few things that managed to be passed down in a culture that was torn from us, a style that has been mocked politely as silly or rudely as crazy was now a new fashion trend attributed to Marc Jacobs? If you don’t get the f*ck out of here with that bullsh*t!

It probably didn’t mean much when I wore this style myself and made a how to blog post in 2009, who am I right? Bantu Knot Bantu Knot Out

Or when Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren as played by Uzo Aduba wore them on Orange is the New Black two years ago, I mean who has Netflix? Crazy Eyes Bantu Knots


Or when Lauryn Hill rocked them back in the 90’s as a member of the Fugees, that whole Hip-Hop/RnB genre was just a passing phase.

FUGEES MTV EUROPE AWARDS 1996 AT ALEXANDRA PALACE LONDON 024318 PHOTO BY RICHARD CHAMBURY-ALPHA-GLOBE PHOTOS LAURYN HILLOr the fact that African women have been wearing them for thousands of years, I know folks are still caught up on the whole continent/country thing.

</end sarcasm>

The fashion and beauty industries have a long torrid history of stealing aspects of African, Native American, Asian, and Latin culture while simultaneously mocking and shaming that same culture. This is what real everyday racism looks like.  Our culture is not for those in power to pluck and chose when trendy, then pretend as if they discovered something that dates back thousands of years.  They tried it and failed. What will they appropriate next?

I know many of you will read this article and be confused. The fact that culture is not a costume and that appropriation =/= appreciation will be completely foreign to you. I will try to simplify this as best as I can. To “borrow” from another culture and present it as a fresh new idea without citing where the practice originates or take into account the religious or societal meaning is wrong.  For more on this topic check out this article from NPR on Columbusing and this one from XO Vain on cultural appreciation in beauty industry. This following funny video all about Columbusing from the folks at College Humor. 


3 thoughts on “Columbusing Our Culture: How Bantu Knots Became Mini Buns

  1. I just CAN’T with this f*ckery anymore!!! Seems like every month THEY take something they’ve insulted us for doing as their own!

    Just recently Lauren Conrad’s stylist praised herself for inventing cornrows while mocking them as a jail style

    When will it end??? Knowing we can’t do anything about it is the worst part! Fortunately there are those who are trying to educate others about appropriation like Amandla Stenberg

    • I didn’t see the comments about Lauren Conrad stylist and I’m glad because I would have spit fire.

      I love Amandla! She uses her celebrity for good and is such a smart young lady full of promise.

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