Everybody likes a winner.

Which is the only way I can really explain the success of the Kardashians. They won the genetic lottery by being born relatively attractive while being the scion of a wealthy and prominent Los Angeles attorney. Bonus points for living in a country that has no royal family, so all sorts of kind of rich people have a shot at being “de facto” royalty of various classes. (Like the Kennedys, for you folks who don’t know who the Kennedys are, would be the Kardashian Family of Politics. Ugh. Sorry, I think I might have vomited a bit just after typing that.)

Of course, though, you can’t just become famous for nothing. You still have to sort of do something besides be pretty and rich. You need a gimmick. For heiress Paris Hilton, that was an accidental sex tape. For Kim Kardashian, that was an “accidental” sex tape, with a black guy and a big ass this time.

I once joked upon the first time seeing Kardashian that I could see why a certain subset of black men fell all over themselves for her because she really didn’t look that different from the prettiest light skinned, long haired, big booty black girl of their video girl dreams — only she wasn’t a black girl. Making her some sort of Racial Sex Unicorn. All the black girl parts they liked, but with none of that “black girlness.” Because, ew, black girls, right? A white woman with a black booty is like a pack of psychological Splenda – still as sweet as sugar, but without the burden of slavery, systematic racism, and centuries of internalized hate and taboos.

But, oh! I can’t help what I love! Whatever, dude. So much of what we love is conditioned by popular culture, history, fads, and social mores. When being “thick” was a sign of wealth and higher class status because most Europeans were serfs, dropping dead from the Black Plague, everyone wanted a big ole booty. Big ole booty meant you had enough food that you could actually eat for recreation, not just sustenance. If you never left Sub-Sahara Africa (and it was never colonized by Europeans), you’d probably still think being pale with long, thin, light-colored hair was a sign of being old and in poor health. Now our “beauty” ideals are malnourished 14-year-old, six-feet-tall former Soviet bloc country fashion models styled to look like “women,” and oversexed PhotoShop illusions with tiny waists and scientifically enhanced butts n’ boobs.

If society tells you, from birth, that you should dream of marrying Blake Lively, but dream of screwing Nicki Minaj, a woman with Blake’s face and Nicki’s ass is going to trade high on the “male gaze” market.

Which brings us back to Kim Kardashian. (And by proxy, her sisters, Ice-T’s wife Coco, Angelina Jolie’s lips who are gorgeous on her, but “ordinary” on every other black girl in America, etc.) This goes beyond just physical beauty.

Everyone likes black stuff when it’s not on a black person. Ask Elvis. Ask Led Zepplin. Ask the “Justins” – Timberlake and Bieber. Our music, asses, lips, hair, dance moves are all crass vulgarities until some non-white person “cleans them up” and “makes them accessible” by doing the exact same thing – but being white while doing it. And these days, you can be white and completely sincere about your love of R&B or Hip Hop or having a fat ass and society will still gladly put you on that “Oh, but a white person did it this time” pedestal – whether you asked for it or not. And they’ll go there “oooing” and “aaahing” as if your mentors and predecessors meant nothing. As if your pop n’ lock routine came to them mature and fully-formed like Venus from the sea foam.

Eminem can write all the love songs to his mentor Dr. Dre as he likes, but for some folks he’s EMINEM! Stop ruining their fantasy.

Case in point: When the 2012 Grammy nominations were released Adele’s ground-breaking album wasn’t listed among the “R&B” albums. But if Adele isn’t singing R&B, then what on Earth is she singing? “Rolling In the Deep” is pop music? Does Adele know she’s singing pop music?

Oh, yeah. She’s white, so the old codgers who handed out the Grammys probably thought she cleaned up and classed up that pesky “race music.”

(Bruno Mars is also listed under “Pop” in this year’s Grammy nominations. Apparently if more than “just” black people buy your music you’re “Pop.” Is Cee-Lo Green “Pop?” Nope. He was only nominated in the R&B categories.)

It’s not even worth getting mad about anymore. Heck, you’ll even find some black folks who love the Kardashians and will defend them vigorously. After all, they seem pretty committed to pulling random black athletes out of obscurity. I’m sure that wins bonus points for someone. Plus, again, it’s not like the Kardashians invented the “it’s better when a white person does it” game. They’re just the players. And you can’t hate the players who are, in essence, the winners of this game.

And everyone likes winners.

So I hope you have a happy Kardashian Khristmas.

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  • mm

    This was written before the Miley Cyrus fiasco and the cluster@#$ that was the VMAS. This amazing article needs an addendum. Appropriation of black culture has been rampant in the past few months!

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  • Naomi

    @mm appropiation of black culture has been rampant for years! And with the throwback to the 90’s trend, it seems like our past is coming back to haunt us. I love this article. I will most definitely forward to my friends.

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