(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

US Democrats Wear Kente Cloth to Present Police Reform Bill—The Internet Reacts

What was the reason?

On Monday morning top US Democrats introduced a police reform bill in response to nationwide protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd and countless other Black people at the hands of police.

Before presenting the bill, several officials, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as well as Corey Booker and Kamala Harris knelt in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, in a clear tribute to the life of George Floyd who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for that exact amount of time.

What everyone seems to be less clear on however, is why they decided to do so while wearing kente cloth stoles.

Since videos showing the Democratic leaders donning kente began circulating online, the internet has been ablaze with hilarious responses to their unprovoked "fashion statement." So much so, that the word "kente" began trending on Twitter shortly after.

While the politicians may have felt they were thoughtfully acknowledging Black heritage, the move came off instead as an empty gesture and was quite frankly—corny.

As fashion historian Shelby Ivey Christie points out via Twitter, the use of kente cloth is "protected as an expression of folklore" according to Ghana's Copyright Act of 2005. It's use by politicians during a press conference as a form of intentionally conspicuous "activism" hardly feels as though it falls into any of the categories authorized for intellectual property use. Instead of representing the culture through kente cloth, they've done more to undermine it by ignoring its intended cultural use.

While many Black people are advocating for the complete defunding and abolishment of the police as an institution, the Democrats proposed bill would "make dramatic changes to police policy across the country and undo decades-old laws," according to Politico. But for many, mere "reform" of the existing police force, feels unsubstantial considering the violence police have wreaked on Black lives for centuries.

While advocates continue to push for more radical action to be taken in order to upend current systems, the kente cloth faux pas has led to hilarious jokes at a time when we could all use a laugh. Enjoy some remarks below.


Interview: Ranks ATM Makes ‘Substance Music’

South African hip-hop artist Ranks ATM on his latest EP 'Substance Music', working with Riky Rick and his crew African Trap Movement's new chapter.

Ranks ATM demands to be taken seriously. With every successive release, listeners are bound to pick up on both his personal and artistic growth. His latest EP, Substance Music, released towards the end of 2020, is an honest body of work that sees the artist divulge some aspects of his life while remaining playful and entertaining.

Young2unn, who produced a majority of the project, gave Ranks ATM beats that primarily consist of keys and strings cushioned by atmospheric pads and ethereal vocal samples panned for effect. The music is soulful enough for Ranks to tell his story and gritty enough to maintain his street aesthetic.

On Substance Music, the artist strikes the balance between playful banter and poignant expression of emotions. It's what makes his raps believable in general—he presents himself as a complete human who feels pain at times but also feels himself. Songs such as "Die For Me" and "How Could It Be" are laced with specific details that could have only been extracted from his life experiences, for instance, on the former, he raps, "You cheated on me with a gym freak, you did me dirty."

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox


Joeboy Shares Visuals for New Track 'Lonely'

Joeboy has dropped the music video for his latest track 'Lonely'. The endearing track features on his upcoming debut album 'Somewhere Between Beauty & Magic'.