YouTuber Accused of Cultural Appropriation Apologizes for Wearing Braids | 22 Words

One thing we must understand as a collective is that even though we're moving towards equality, we're definitely not there yet. In such a progressive society, we still have instances of discrimination based on skin color, religion, and class. In an ideal world, these differences wouldn't prove to be such a barrier, but we can't ignore reality.

A YouTuber has recently apologized after she was accused of cultural appropriation for wearing long blue braids for an ad.

Keep scrolling to see the picture that shocked her audience...

Everyone has the freedom to wear what they want.

via: Getty Images

In the United States of America, we have fought for the right to express ourselves how we see fit.

However, this is taken away from certain individuals.

via: Getty Images

And no one understands this better than the African-American community. Previously, all across the globe, typical features that came naturally to the community were stereotyped as "ugly" and "undesirable."

And these stereotypes were also upheld by laws.

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Natural hairstyles such as the afro and dreadlocks have been banned from the workplace, rejected from society and recently become the prime source of cultural appropriation.

Only last year did things start changing.

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On July 3rd, 2019, California became the first state to ban discrimination against one's natural hair. Governor Gavin Newsom passed the Crown Act law, which banned employers and schools from discriminating against hairstyles such as afros, braids, and locks.

But it seems as though this hasn't made much of a difference.

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Professional and academic institutes have recently been accused of sending a derogatory message about black and natural hair styles. And this comes in all sorts of forms, from hiding behind uniform regulations all the way to being blatantly racist.

This is because stories like this started surfacing...

via: YouTube

In December 2018, a young athlete was forced to cut off his dreadlocks by a referee in front of an audience in order to compete in a wrestling match.

He was given 2 options: Cut them off or forfeit the match.

via: YouTube

Referee Alan Maloney determined that wrestler, Andrew Johnson was breaking protocol by having dreads as it did not align with the regulations of "long hair."

Johnson was taken to the sidelines and had his locks cut off with a pair of scissors.

via: YouTube

That's right, not once was this rule mentioned to him by his coach or any other official. After spending all season training, he felt as though it was the only option, so proceeded with the chop.

An investigation into the incident was filed.

via: YouTube

In the end, a report concluded that New Jersey officials ruled the regulations to be discriminatory against various traditionally black hairstyles regardless of length, which was Maloney's original excuse.

As part of an agreement, wrestling officials had to be given proper training.

via: YouTube

The Guardian reported: "As part of Wednesday’s agreement, the athletic association will provide in-person training to all wrestling officials in the state before the start of the season to emphasize that the rule in question is based on hair length, not hairstyle." Alan Maloney got off lightly as he was only suspended for 2 seasons.

And 2 years after, yet another similar incident went viral.

via: YouTube

DeAndre Arnold, a senior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas has been given a similar ultimatum: Cut off your dreads or you can't attend graduation. The teenager was also told he might not get to attend his senior prom if he doesn't follow through.

Even though the school allows dreads, apparently not Arnold's.

via: YouTube

The school states that all males can't have hair longer than the eyebrows or ear lobes, and must be kept shorter than the top of a T-shirt collar. His mother told CNN that he ties his hair up so he isn't breaching regulations, but it seems as if the establishment is taking drastic actions against him.

It is much bigger than just 2 or 3 cases.

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Ruby Williams, fourteen, was told that her afro didn't allow other children to see the board. However, she took the matter to court and won a 10,947 dollar payout for being humiliated and degraded in the classroom. She claimed it completely destroyed her confidence in her own natural hair.

This is why the issue is so important to the black community, and others that understand too.

Hairstyles that have been deemed "ugly", "undesirable" and "ratchet" on black people are being hailed as a fashion statement on white folk who use take the style for their own personal gain. When white men and women do it, it's suddenly "appreciation" and "beauty."

And this one YouTuber failed to do her research before pulling this stunt.

Aussie influencer Sarah Stevenson was promoting her new line of activewear when her fans noticed that she decided to wear her hair in very long blue braids in the photoshoot.

Her followers quickly went to her comment section to tell her what she had done wrong.

"I’ve always loved you and your channel and still watch every one of your videos, but I’m disappointed to see this use of cultural appropriation in your latest collaboration." While another wrote this: "Might be ‘just a hairstyle’ to some, but to many of us black women, it is what keeps us out of getting jobs, and what we are constantly discriminated against for."

Others even urged Sarah to take responsibility for her actions.

They said: "...You have a huge platform and you can’t seriously be this culturally unaware."

And you know what? Sarah did just that.

The influencer issued an apology saying this: "With a new activewear campaign centred around confidence, strength, embracing and loving our bodies, I’m absolutely heartbroken some people and communities are feeling the exact opposite right now. I am so sorry and I want to make it right."

She continued:

"It genuinely breaks my heart that I could ever offend anyone, particularly surrounding a project that was based on feeling empowered, embracing our differences, and feeling confident in our own skin. I was so excited for you to see this campaign we all worked so hard on, however, not at the expense of offending anyone. I’m still doing my best to understand and be aware. This uncertainty and sadness in my heart has led me to pull the campaign. Please know that I love you all and I’m doing my best at being respectful of everyone’s opinion."

Here's the photo that has now been removed:

via: Instagram

At least Sarah apologized and took responsibility for her actions and it seems like it was a genuine mistake that she regrets. She also went above and beyond to rectify it. If you're in the mood to see a celebration of the afro, then keep scrolling because these photos are amazing...