Is Wearing Cornrows If You’re Not Black Cultural Appropriation?

VH1 asked three ladies to wear the style for a week. Here's what happened.

There’s been a lot of talk about cultural appropriation lately, and most of it centers around the Kardashian family.

Back in March, the New York Post published an article titled “UFC Is Inspiring the Hottest New Hair Trend,” in which the publication essentially tried to rebrand “cornrows” as “boxer braids.”

“Fueled by celebrities and the popularity of UFC fighters, the center-parted reverse French-braid style has surged back into fashion,” the article said. “The woven look, dating back to ancient Africa, has been worn by celebs including the Kardashian clan.”

The problematic post sparked outrage, response pieces and ultimately, discussion about cultural appropriation. What the hell is a boxer braid? Are the Kardashians appropriating Black culture by wearing their hair in cornrows? Is all of this the media’s fault for being ignorant? Was there this much outrage when Justin Timberlake wore cornrows back in 2000?!

VH1 asked three ladies of different races to wear our hair in cornrows for one week to gain some perspective on the subject. We headed down to Stasha’s Tempted 2 Touch Salon in Brooklyn to get our hair braided, and proceeded to record everything from the good to the bad to the eye-opening.

NOTE: Jocelyn hadn’t had her hair braided since childhood. Her experience was not a question of cultural appropriation, but one of having her hair in braids for the first time in years as a Black woman. We were curious to see how people around her would react to this virtual first-timer.

Is wearing your hair in cornrows if you’re not Black cultural appropriation or not? Find out what we had to say after wearing the style for a week in the clip below.

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