I am face with yet another offensive comment and headline. Vogue Italia featured “Slave Earrings,” by which they were referring to hoop earrings, in its “Shop The Trend” section, instructing readers that hoop earrings are an updated classic from the era of US slavery:
Jewellery has always flirted with circular shapes, especially for use in making earrings. The most classic models are the slave and creole styles in gold hoops.
If the name brings to the mind the decorative traditions of the women of colour who were brought to the southern Unites States during the slave trade, the latest interpretation is pure freedom. Colored stones, symbolic pendants and multiple spheres. And the evolution goes on.
On the one hand, should the enslavement of Africans in the United States be mined for style inspiration? The image I get when I think of people enslaved is shackles on their hands and feet. WHEN HAS SLAVERY BECOME FASHIONABLE? What’s next?!?!?!
The point, it seems, is that Vogue Italia flippantly references the slave trade as an inspiring moment for “decorative traditions,” glamorizing slavery. That’s so ignorant.
I don’t think people will ever fully understand the mental, physical and emotional damage that the great voyage has had on that one ethnic group that affected the entire race for centuries to come. And, entertaining movies like “the Help” doesn’t help to restore and rebuild images. (I could say a lot more in this paragraph, but I learned when to keep my thoughts to myself. Some opinions can’t be changed, some battles are not worth fighting, some words are better left unsaid.)
Well, if you want to buy yourself the latest slave earrings, click here.
UPDATE: In light of all the poor press, it looks like Vogue Italia has changed the name of the feature from “Slave Earrings” to “Ethnic Earrings” (see the new headline here). Strange, however, that the magazine chose the bland, imprecise descriptor “ethnic.”