Enduring Afrochic

I have a perpetual love/hate relationship with the love/theft of Africa and blackness, which is why I write about it. Afrochic, the name I have given to African/black-influenced Western clothing, is a trend that has considerable longevity.


Now, Beyonce gets in on the act, again:

Beyonce’s appropriation of this mode, though, is definitely in my highly questionable category. Her deployment of this style has no rhyme or reason to it – especially with the animal print and her blackface photographs from 2011. I never find her original and she certainly displays a lack of awareness of the historical implications of the various memes that she recycles.


Her theft of African material culture disregards the serious and damaging impact of these tropes on Africans and other people of African descent and Africans, who suffer the racism that is often engendered by such imagery. I see simple exploitation for her own gain only and no effort to critique or re-imagine the blithely unconscious manner in which Europeans and Americans appropriated African culture during the height of the colonial era.

I guess she has never seen the work of Yinka Shonibare MBE.

Yinka Shonibare MBE, Scramble for Africa, 2003


Author: Camara Dia Holloway

I am an art historian specializing in early twentieth century American art with particular focus on the history of photography, race and representation, and transatlantic modernist networks. I earned my PhD at Yale University in the History of Art Department. Besides my leadership role as the Founding Co-Director of the Association for Critical Race Art History (ACRAH), I am recognized for my expertise on African American Art, particularly African American Photography, and as a seasoned consultant for exhibitions, museum collections, and symposia/lectures planning.

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