White students at Pitzer College in Los Angeles have been warned to stop wearing hoop earrings because the fashion statement resulted from the “oppression and exclusion” of black people. The earrings notice was reportedly given by a group of Latino students at the California school.
The “White girl, take off your hoops,” warning was painted onto the “free wall” at Pitzer College. The wall has long been used as a place where students could express their thoughts and exercise their free speech rights without moderation by college officials.
After one white student at the school questioned the no hoop earrings warning and spoke to authorities about it, Alegria Martinez, a fellow student, sent an email about hoop earrings to the entire student population of the college, according to a campus newspaper, the Claremont Independent.
The campus newspaper is reportedly a publication by conservative students and is affiliated with the Leadership Institute’s Campus Leadership program. Martinez is a member of the Latinx Student Union – a student group at the college.
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“[T]he art was created by myself and a few other WOC [women of color] after being tired and annoyed with the reoccuring [sic] theme of white women appropriating styles … that belong to the black and brown folks who created the culture,” Alegria Martinez’s email to Pitzer College students said, according to a Daily Mail report. “The culture actually comes from a historical background of oppression and exclusion.”
Alegria is a resident assistant at Pitzer College, according to Campus Reform. Resident assistants (RAs) are typically paid a stipend to live on a floor in a dorm to help make sure campus rules are followed and to serve as a type of mentor and advocate for the students in his or her charge, while helping to keep the dorm floor a safe and healthy place to live during the school year.
Interesting article @KatTimpf,
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Martinez’s email went on to claim “black and brown bodies” who routinely wear not only hoop earrings but gold nameplate necklaces and winged eyeliner, are often viewed as “ghetto” fashion accessories or style. The Pitzer College student also maintained women of color who wear such jewelry and make-up are often not taken seriously by others as they go about their daily lives.
The claims of hoop earrings being a form of cultural appropriation sparked a firestorm of debate both on the Los Angeles campus and on social media. It reportedly costs about $65,000 to attend the liberal arts college in Claremont, California, when tuition, room and board, and books are totaled together, the Weekly Standard reports.
Hoop Earrings: The Latest Target of Cultural Appropriation https://t.co/oUp6dgzCdz
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“Because of this, I see our winged eyeliner, lined lips, and big hoop earrings serving as symbols [and] as an everyday act of resistance, especially here at the Claremont Colleges,” Martinez went on to say in the same email. “Meanwhile we wonder, why should white girls be able to take part in this culture (wearing hoop earrings just being one case of it) and be seen as cute/aesthetic/ethnic. White people have actually exploited the culture and made it into fashion.”
Jacquelyn Aguilera is another Pitzer College student who is claiming credit for the “white girl, take off your hoops” message being spray painted on the free wall at the campus.
Aguilera wrote a scathing email response to the campus-wide email about the hoop earrings controversy and attached a photo of herself and all her cohorts who allegedly painted the controversial message:
“If you didn’t create the culture as a coping mechanism for marginalization, take off those hoops, if your feminism isn’t intersectional take off those hoops, if you try to wear mi cultura when the creators can no longer afford it, take off those hoops, if you are incapable of using a search engine and expect other people to educate you, take off those hoops, if you can’t pronounce my name or spell it … take off those hoops.”
Aguilera added she chose to use the word “those” instead of “your” intentionally when talking about hoop earrings because, in her opinion, the earrings never belonged to white girls to begin with.
Pitzer College President, Melvin L. Oliver, penned an open letter entitled “Hate Speech Is Not Free Speech.” after the Claremont Independent article sparked backlash against the Hispanic female students who claim to have painted the graffiti and send emails to fellow students about hoop earrings. Oliver condemned the “cycle of violent hate speech that threatens the safety and well-being of every member of our community” in the letter which appears to support the Latinx Student Union members.
“The three Latina students who responded to the all-campus emails started to receive hostile email messages, which the college believes are from people not connected to Pitzer or the other Claremont Colleges. Some of the messages college officials have reviewed appear to go beyond criticism, to harassment and threats, including a message with an individual pointing a gun,” Oliver’s letter said.
What do you think about the warning graffiti message to white girls at Pitzer College urging them to stop wearing hoop earrings because they are a sign of black oppression?
[Featured Image by Ryan Jorgensen/Shuterstock]