Kim Kardashian: A Controversial Figure in the Discourse on Race

Kim Kardashian: A Controversial Figure in the Discourse on Race 

Kim Kardashian-West is an influential figure in popular culture, particularly known for her reality TV series, business ventures, and social media presence. While she has garnered both praise and criticism for various aspects of her life, the topic of race is one that has frequently been associated with her. In recent years, discussions surrounding Kim Kardashian’s race and her relationship with the black community have sparked debates and raised important questions about cultural appropriation, representation, and the complexities of identity.

The Kardashian Phenomenon: A Brief Background

Kim Kardashian rose to fame in the early 2000s as a result of her family’s reality TV show, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” Over the years, the Kardashian-Jenner family has built an empire, with Kim being at the forefront. Her popularity has allowed her to become a successful businesswoman, launching various brands and ventures, including her shapewear line, KKW Beauty, and fragrance collections.

Throughout her career, Kardashian has been celebrated for her entrepreneurial spirit, fashion choices, and influence on social media. However, her rise to fame has also been marred by controversies, with many accusing her of appropriating black culture and capitalizing on aspects of black aesthetics and style.

The Complexities of Cultural Appropriation

One of the main points of contention surrounding Kim Kardashian is the accusation of cultural appropriation. Critics argue that she has repeatedly co-opted elements of black culture, such as hairstyles, fashion trends, and even her physical appearance, without acknowledging or respecting the origins and significance behind them.

Kim’s frequent adoption of hairstyles like braids (referred to as “boxer braids” by some), cornrows, and other traditionally black hairstyles has drawn significant backlash. Many argue that by embracing these styles without acknowledging their cultural roots, Kardashian perpetuates a harmful narrative that erases the contributions of black people to popular culture.

Furthermore, the Kardashian family’s history of appropriating black aesthetics extends beyond hairstyles. From sporting exaggeratedly curvaceous figures to appropriating African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) in their social media posts, the Kardashian-Jenners have faced criticism for seemingly cherry-picking aspects of black culture for their own gain.

Identity and Representation

Kim Kardashian’s personal racial identity has also been a subject of debate. While she is of Armenian descent, some critics argue that she has strategically presented herself as racially ambiguous, often using beauty practices and enhancements that align with Eurocentric beauty standards.

The conversation surrounding Kim Kardashian’s race highlights the larger issue of representation in the media. As a high-profile figure with an immense following, Kardashian has a responsibility to use her platform to promote diverse voices and challenge societal beauty norms. Critics argue that she falls short in this respect, as her image often perpetuates narrow standards of beauty that exclude people of color.

A Call for Accountability and Education

The ongoing dialogue about Kim Kardashian’s relationship with race raises important questions about accountability and the responsibility of influential figures. While some argue that Kardashian has made efforts to address these concerns, such as her involvement in criminal justice reform, others believe that more needs to be done to rectify the harm caused by cultural appropriation.

Instead of dismissing the criticism, it is crucial for public figures like Kim Kardashian to actively engage in conversations about race, educate themselves about the history and significance of the cultures they borrow from, and use their platform to uplift marginalized voices. By doing so, they can contribute to a more inclusive and respectful society.


Kim Kardashian’s impact on popular culture cannot be denied, but it is essential to critically examine the ways in which she navigates the discourse on race. The conversations surrounding her relationship with black culture and her own racial identity highlight the importance of cultural appropriation, representation, and the need for accountability within the realm of celebrity influence. By continuing these discussions and encouraging education and growth, we can work towards a more inclusive society that appreciates and respects diverse cultures.

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