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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  • adriane

    Maybe it’s just me, but I do not think that the Kardashians look like Black women one bit. They are attractive and all, but they are no match for a beautiful Black woman. Having a large bum or big lips are not the only features that make some Black women gorgeous. What about our thick, big hair, natural kinky curls — when well maintained. Or, our cocoa to dark, rich skin tones? What about our flat pleasing noses and high foreheads? Or our delicate cheek bones and upturned shapely eyes and long necks? Our squared jaws (like the Williams sisters and Janet) and our warm brown eyes. These Kardashians (and Angelina) simply don’t have the same kind of beauty as Black women do. The are okay, and I do not want to take anything away from them, but I don’t see it. The Kardashians have none of the splendor that makes some Black women lovely. I think they look like very attractive white women, except for Khloe and the severe-featured mother, who do not look good at all, I’m afraid. Why do Black women care? I don’t understand the comparison here. I don’t understand where they look Black or African. I just do not see it.

    • usagi

      I’m going to have to play devil’s advocate, it’s a sign the racial beauty standards are improving. Fifty years ago, Kim would’ve had to change her name to something Anglo-Saxon( Charlie Sheen). I willing to bet that those Ayran folks would …still call Kim and family niggers. Janice Dickerson couldn’t find work in modeling because she was too ethnic.Also, Steven Tyler felt different from other whites because of his lips.

    • khadija

      i love your comment…everyone should read it, we have so many beautiful features and you list them so beautifully

  • I agree with almost everything in this entry. That said, I must give credit where it’s due; Kim K is just flat out good-looking, period. Yes, she’s an attention whore…and in some respects, you can call her an actual whore LOL, but she’s a pretty girl. I don’t think it makes one brainwashed or conditioned to feel that way. Besides, I’m not attracted to the rest of that family…although the Mom is a pimp!

  • Shana

    Im white with a big butt. I was just born that way. But I personally think black women are the most beautiful women in the world! Michelle Obama is beyond lovely, smart, beautiful, accomplished, & kind. I think it looks strange when white women get enhancements to appear more ‘ethnic’. Women should love themselves because we spend so much time putting each other down. Our race is a matter of genetics and beyond our control, but the way we treat each other is in our purview. Men may admire whatever or whomever cranks their engine, but I would hope that they can self-examine their motivations and decide if they like the Kardashians of the world because of the egregiously misguided notion of white superiority or if these women actually have substance and beauty that transcends their corporeal identity. That being said, white folks in general fail to appreciate the myriad contributions of black people and arrogantly ignore the trials and tribulations of black people living in a society that deems black as less than desirable and white as the epitome of right. The tides are still shifting. Not fast enough IMO. But every step forward is a worthy move toward loving ourselves and our neighbours.

    • Kimberly

      Shana you couldn’t have said it better. You are absolutley right we are attacking each other, because of what society portrays. In reality there are beautiful women in all races. I just wish peopel would stop waging this war, and just learn to value variety. I am a Black woman, and i just love your response.

    • usagi

      Well, I’m black with a flat pancake butt. Me myslef don’t feel like Kim is stealing anything, When she gets her nose small and pointy, flatten her body, dying her hair red or coloring her lips plum, then I’ll say she’s stealing my thunder.Race is just just a social construct. A big one, though. I just don’t see big butts, curvy bodies, or big lips as black features.

  • Isis

    I love how folks say Armenians arent white. Meet one and say that to their face. Lmaooo a hot mess. Learn geography

    • Danni D

      Ummm, Armenia is definitely in the Middle East, south of Georgia and a little north of Iraq, sooo any Armenian who wants to consider themselves white, ie. European, would be going through some serious denial and self hate.

    • Kim

      @Danni D,
      well you may want to talk to the Armenian people because they definitely see themselves as White.

    • JaeBee

      I’ve had friends from places like Iran, Turkey, and Jordan who consider themselves “white”. When they say something like that I usually suggest that they go attend a meeting of a white supremacist group and see how many group members will agree with them on their perception.

  • elle

    danielle! dope article, so very very true. it’s undoubted that the beauty ideal is moving toward a racially ambiguous model like kim k, but black women are still are little too ‘ethnic’ even though african genes helped create many of these ideal features. i think it’s no coincidence that paris hilton was kim k’s predecessor. her family didn’t want to participate in the circus however, perhaps that’s why her star dimmed. thanks for writing this!