How the Kardashians Strategically Maintained Success While Stealing Black Culture

instagram/Getty Images

instagram/Getty Images

The Kardashians have made a living off of stealing black culture by going unscathed from their white peers.

As “Keeping up with the Kardashians” is in it’s tenth year (the season premiere of the 14th season airs Sunday) and Kylie Jenner is reportedly pregnant with Travis Scott’s (another black rapper’s) baby, it’s been an intense weekend for the Kardashian clan. Furthermore, those circumstances make it easier to reflect on how the Kardashians have remained successful despite their black culture-centered career.

The answer is bigger than the always appropriate claim of them being pretty white girls. It’s more nuanced than that. Unlike other white celebrities who’ve been chastised on social media and by others for their representation of black culture, the Kardashians have seemingly went unscathed. There are many twitter threads and think pieces about the family being the main culprit in culture appropriation. However, those are all by black people. In fact, black people are the only ones who’ve demonized the reality show stars.  White people, on the other hand, still welcome them with open arms, an occurrence that has become the beacon of their success.

The family has gotten the best of both worlds by sporting cornrows and surgically-enhanced lips, asses, and whatever the hell else while also remaining at the culmination of their Calabasas-based white society. It’s hard to concede that Kylie Jenner has built an enterprising beauty business, Kim Kardashian is listed as the most influential on the internet while continuously gracing the covers of prominent magazines such as Forbes and Vogue, and Kendall Jenner being considered the hottest supermodel and trendsetter. However, those are all true, and they’ve managed to align themselves with the lifestyle of black people while doing it.

In other words, Kardashians have strategically succeeded in  trying to be black while not thoroughly being perceived as black. For instance, the Kardashians have in no shape or form linguistically appropriated black people. All of them have that typical white girl voice. Each of the sisters are their own version of “Becky with the good hair” minus their casual usage of black women’s style.

Miley Cyrus, in her attempt to appropriate black culture, did not reach that same success. Her desperate attempt at blackness during her 2013 VMA performance with Robin Thicke was ridiculed by Cyrus’ white peers for being too trashy.

“I just want to know who’s advising her and why it’s necessary…..[our children] can’t watch that,” Brooke Shields, who played Cyrus’ mom on “Hannah Montana” said

Comments like that made it obvious that Cyrus was perceived as white trash by blacks and whites alike.

The Kardashians, on the other hand, haven’t received similar criticism. They’ve continued dominate pop culture, but how did they do it?

The Kardashians have a lot of black friends who are among black hollywood’s elite. Kim Kardashian has friends like Lala Anthony, Ciara, Serena Williams, and more. The list goes on for the other sisters. Drake attended Kylie Jenner’s birthday. Khloe Kardashian’s mentioned on the show that she parties and is close with P.Diddy, and Kevin Hart once said that Kim Kardashian’s soul food was actually good. Those are the friends whose silence about the Kardashians’ appropriation basically warrants the sisters’ choices. This isn’t to say that the Kardashians shouldn’t have black friends, but those friends should check the sisters’ appropriation at the door. Maybe Kevin Hart should have asked Kim about the significance of soul food within the black community before praising it.

The sisters are the only white women to receive all-access passes to the rap and NBA world, two realms dominated by black men. Kim Kardashian’s ex husband Kris Humphries played for the Brooklyn Nets while Khloe Kardashian has had her fair share of NBA players. She’s currently dating Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson. Kim Kardashian is married to one of the hottest rappers and Kylie Jenner is dating and now reportedly pregnant by hitmaker Travis Scott. Mission accomplished. The Kardashians have successfully infiltrated afro-centric territory without anyone wondering how they got there in the first place. A pretty face and a big butt was all that they needed to gain entry.

In fact, that’s the beneficiary of the sisters’ success. That’s all they needed. That’s what Miley Cyrus was missing before she decided that being black was giving her the popularity that she expected. Miley Cyrus put on this metaphorical blackface without maintaining her whiteness and or having the sex appeal and body parts that are primarily unique to black women. The Kardashians continuously sat on the first rows of New York Fashion Week shows while wearing weaves and dresses that showed off their surgically-enhanced, black women-inspired figures, mixing their upper-echelon white societal practices with their newly found black-culture centric style. Now, they’ve reached a decade of that success.