Here we go again.
Reality TV stars Kendall and Kylie Jenner pulled their new line of T-shirts after the mother of Notorious B.I.G. blasted the sisters for using the late rapper’s image without permission. This marked the latest in a long string of complaints accusing the Jenner sisters of appropriating black culture for their own benefit.
The sisters recently released the “Rap vs. Rock” collection of T-shirts via their clothing line, Kendall + Kylie. Grayscale images of various rockers and rappers, such as Ozzy Osbourne, Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac, were printed on the shirts. Those images were superimposed with ones of Kylie or Kendall — or the letters “kk” — in neon yellow and pink.
Kendall and Kylie Jenner exploiting very important culture yet again for $125 a shirt pic.twitter.com/vHhRFBthvJ
— Stage Dive (@stagedive_tv) June 29, 2017
Almost immediately upon the shirts’ release, many accused the sisters of being insensitive.
The loudest dissenter was Voletta Wallace, the mother of Christopher Wallace, a.k.a. Notorious B.I.G., who took to Instagram to express her displeasure. Her son and Tupac were killed within six months of each other in late 1996 and early 1997.
Voletta Wallace claimed the Jenners asked neither her nor her late son’s estate for permission to use his image.
“I am not sure who told @kyliejenner and @kendalljenner that they had the right to do this,” Wallace wrote. “The disrespect of these girls to not even reach out to me or anyone connected to the estate baffles me.”
Added Wallace, “I have no idea why they feel they can exploit the deaths of 2pac and my Son Christopher to sell a t-shirt. This is disrespectful , disgusting, and exploitation at its worst!!!”
I am not sure who told @kyliejenner and @kendalljenner that they had the right to do this. The disrespect of these girls to not even reach out to me or anyone connected to the estate baffles me. I have no idea why they feel they can exploit the deaths of 2pac and my Son Christopher to sell a t-shirt. This is disrespectful , disgusting, and exploitation at its worst!!!
Wallace wasn’t alone in her anger. Sharon Osbourne, wife of Ozzy Osbourne, tweeted, “Girls, you haven’t earned the right to put your face with musical icons. Stick to what you know…lip gloss.”
Girls, you haven’t earned the right to put your face with musical icons. Stick to what you know…lip gloss. pic.twitter.com/BhmuUVrDBn
— Sharon Osbourne (@MrsSOsbourne) June 29, 2017
Others who responded mirrored these feelings.
“The disrespect of these Jenner girls to try and sell tshirts with their faces over Tupac and Biggie … or even try to cash in,” tweeted one.
“Kendall Jenner printing her face over famous artists on tshirts and charging $125 per shirt. I’m having second hand embarrassment for her,” tweeted another.
The backlash prompted the Jenners to stop selling the T-shirts. On Thursday, they released a statement, which each posted to her Twitter account.
“These designs were not well thought out and we deeply apologize to anyone that has been upset and/or offended, especially to the families of the artists,” it read. “We are huge fans of their music and it was not our intention to disrespect these cultural icons in anyway.”
“We will use this as an opportunity to learn from these mistakes and again, we are very sorry,” it concluded.
The apology didn’t appear to be enough for the Notorious B.I.G.’s estate, however, which released this statement to People following the apology: “While we appreciate that the Jenners have made an apology and pulled the unlawful and unauthorized items, this matter has yet to be resolved.”
The Jenner sisters have repeatedly been accused of cultural appropriation.
The most prominent example was the now infamous Pepsi ad, which The Washington Post’s Elahe Izadi called “unspeakably tone-deaf.”
In the ad, Kendall wanders through a protest as tensions grow between the protesters and police. At the end, she manages to quell the rising tension by handing a police officer a cold can of Pepsi. As The Post’s Amy B Wang wrote, “The ad was eviscerated by people who accused Pepsi of appropriating serious political and social-justice movements to sell soda.”
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) April 5, 2017
The outrage eventually prompted Pepsi to pull the ad and apologize.
“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding,” the company said in a statement. “Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”
Kendall was also accused of appropriating black women’s hairstyles, alongside fellow models Gigi Hadid, Adriana Lima and others, all of whom wore their hair in dreadlocks in the Marc Jacobs show at the 2016 New York Fashion Week.
“The problem, of course, is not the references or even the fact that these dreadlocks appeared on the majority of white models in the show, but the erasure of any Black influences at all,” Danielle Prescod wrote for BET.
Kylie, meanwhile, has long faced similar accusations for styling her hair in cornrows on various occasions.
She was first accused in 2015 when she posted to Instagram a photo of herself with her hair styled in cornrows. Its caption read, “I woke up like disss,” a reference to a Beyoncé song.
Many called her out on social media, the most prominent voice belonging to actress Amandla Stenberg of “The Hunger Games” and the television series “Sleepy Hollow.”
“When u appropriate black features and culture but fail to use ur position of power to help black Americans by directing attention towards ur wigs instead of police brutality or racism #whitegirlsdoitbetter,” Stenberg wrote.
Others later joined in.
“Given the massive social platforms of the sisters, it would be great to see some type of acknowledgment of where they’re taking the styles from,” Andrea Arterbery wrote in Teen Vogue. “Yes, they are great hair looks to wear, but give true acknowledgement as to where they come from — especially when other people’s race and culture is involved.”
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