Campus-Wide E-mail Tells White Girls to Stop Wearing Hoop Earrings Because It’s Cultural Appropriation

by Katherine Timpf

A resident assistant at Pitzer College sent out an email to the entire school about how upset she was seeing white girls in hoop earrings because it’s culturally offensive to “[t]he black and brown bodies who typically wear hooped earrings.” 

According to an article in The Claremont Independent, the whole thing started when a group of Latino students spray painted “White Girl, take off your hoops!” on a dormitory wall that’s devoted to free speech. Then, after one white girl said she was confused by the message, one of the spray-painters  – a resident assistant named Alegria Martinez — felt the need to fire off a school-wide email expressing her disgust. 

““[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,” Martinez wrote. 

Martinez explained that “[t]he black and brown bodies who typically wear hooped earrings, (and other accessories like winged eyeliner, gold name plate necklaces, etc) are typically viewed as ghetto, and are not taken seriously by others in their daily lives,” and that she sees “winged eyeliner, lined lips, and big hoop earrings … as symbols [and] as an everyday act of resistance, especially here at the Claremont Colleges.” 

(Yep — “winged eyeliner” and “lined lips” are apparently forbidden for white girls, too; I guess I’d better run to the bathroom and wash off my culturally appropriative face!) 

“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,” Martinez continued. “White people have actually exploited the culture and made it into fashion.”

Then, because just one of these emails was apparently not enough, another student replied to the thread with an email demanding that all white girls remove their hoops immediately:

“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 / I use ‘those’ instead of ‘your’ because hoops were never ‘yours’ to begin with,” Jacquelyn Aguilera wrote.  

Nobody owns circles, and you really, really need to calm down.

Now, I do understand that these students are upset, but here’s the thing: Deciding to personally bombard an entire student body with your feelings about hoop earrings is absolutely bananas. I mean, it would have been one thing had Martinez just gone the typical SJW-student route and written an op-ed about why people need to be more earring-woke, but she actually, seriously thought that this issue was important enough to warrant alerting the entire school — and there are not enough desks in the world for me to bang my head on when I think about how insane that is. 

Now, I can admit that I did not invent hoop earrings. Hell, I can even admit that I’ve never done any research on the history of hoop earrings. But does this mean that I can’t wear them? Hell no, because it is literally a piece of metal twisted into a circle, and if you are going to try and tell me that I cannot wear a piece of metal because that piece of metal has been twisted into a circle, then I am going to tell you to shut up. It does not matter who started it, nobody owns circles, and you really, really need to calm down. 

Spoiler alert: The people on this earth right now are not first people to ever have existed… and at this point, every single style of anything ultimately goes back to someone else’s idea. Truly, I would challenge you to think of even one modern “original” idea that cannot be traced back to inspiration from someone or something else. What’s more, we live in a country where people from many different cultures are interacting with each other, which means that some elements from one culture are inevitably going to influence the people of another. And do you know what? That’s not bad. In fact, some might even say that it’s one of the things that makes this place so special. 

– Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review