At some point during an international film festival, in response to an inquiry about whether a quite Caucasian jury would be able to evaluate and understand North African films, Meryl Streep decided to go full Hotep and inform us that “We’re all Africans, really.”
That clink you hear is the sound of Lady Meryl officially falling off the list of “White Women That I F—ks With (TM).” Previously excommunicated members include the likes of Tina Fey and Amy Schumer. There are also folks with a lifetime ban: See Handler, Chelsea.
At this point, the only white women left are Dame Helen Mirren and JoJo—and even JoJo is on probation until she starts putting out music that I want to hear again.
I don’t even have the slightest clue as to what in the Sankofa-imbued, Rachel Dolezal hell Meryl was sipping on that morning that had her convinced that her brand of Pan-Africanism made even the slightest bit of sense, but it is far from the first time that melanin deficiencies didn’t serve as a deterrent for folks to stay out of the Motherland lane before. Take a gander at the following:
1. Jamie Oliver’s jollof rice recipe: Jollof rice is a West African one-pot staple. Simply stated, it is a big f—king deal—to the point that it is subject to regular debates on Twitter between who makes the recipe best (the answer is Senegal, by the way). Paired with plantain, it is one of the purest expressions of love that exist within the Diaspora–which is why when the British chef Jamie Oliver turned the following crowning glory into an abomination, I damn near ate my foot.
I’ve spent the better part of my days trying to figure out what is going on here, but I’ve come up with less answers than Sway. All these additional herbs and spices, pieces of tomato instead of actually cooking it down in blended tomatoes and oil—no one asked for this! This is like when you go to someone’s Thanksgiving dinner and the cook brings out tofurky. Just tell me you don’t like me. Don’t go out of your way to disrespect my taste buds like this; I’m just going to take it as an act of aggression and respond in kind.
2. Vacation cornrows with beads on them: The fact that this is still a thing that Anglo-Saxons do will continue to befuddle me. What part of duplicating a hairstyle that you see no adults around you wearing seems like a good idea? It’s the equivalent of me going to an authentic Chinese restaurant and ordering General Tso’s chicken.
I’ve always wondered just how long they keep them in; my interaction with white folks’ braids is mild amusement as we’re getting off the same flight. Do they keep them in through the weekend? Show them off to their friends at happy hour? Rock them at work? And why the beads? Who puts beads at the ends of their hair past the age of 7?? Somewhere on a beauty-shop shelf, all the girls on a cover of a Just for Me box are laughing at your beaded plaits.
3. Scented oils: If you’ve ever been on 125th Street in Harlem before 2007, you are guaranteed to have a detailed story of a personal interaction with any one of a plethora of “African-scented oils” vendors. I’ve never not seen white people go out of their way to purchase these and take in their “authenticity.” I’m sorry to have to be the one to break it to you, but “African Black Love,” “Blue Nile” and “Ebony Musk” were more than likely made in a basement in Philadelphia.
4. Most “African dance” classes: I’ve been dancing in a variety of capacities and companies for the majority of my brown-skinned life, and I can count on one hand the number of “introduction to (West) African dance” seminars that didn’t involve exaggerated pelvic movements and drum circles and high-energy jumps. Few things are more off-putting than a lily-white instructor telling you that this is how “your people” traditionally move. I don’t tell you guys how to make specialty mayonnaises, after all; let’s stick to our respective rivers and lakes.
5. Any artwork that was commissioned by Rachel Dolezal: To this day, I am utterly dumbfounded at the monthlong phenomenon that was that alabaster spectacle from the Pacific Northwest. Is she still running a natural-hair shop out of her house?
6. Will Smith’s accent in Concussion: I know Will Smith isn’t white, but I need to take this moment to emphasize that Willard’s version of a Nigerian accent is an abomination, and one I rebuke in the name of my lord and savior, amen. I’m sure the acting in the movie was otherwise great, but every time I see Will demanding that the NFL “tell di troof,” I start violently shaking as I imagine the number of times he sat in front of a dialect coach to mimic an inflection that he still missed the mark on.
They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something: By my estimation, Will was somewhere around 6,250. I’m sure he still gave an earnest effort, though.
Honorable mention: The kente cloth stole that everyone got for black commencement ceremonies at PWIs, which most definitely had a “Made in China” label on the inseam.
Shamira Ibrahim is a 20-something New Yorker who likes all things Dipset. You can join her as she waxes poetic about chicken, Cam’ron and gentrification (gotta have some balance) under the influence of varying amounts of brown liquor at Very Smart Brothas.