Gathered at Emancipation Hall, Democrats knelt for eight minutes and forty-six seconds.
This was supposed to be their shining moment.
A moment where they could demonstrate that they stood with the Black Lives Matter movement.
But Nancy Pelosi’s one mistake was a brutal insult to the black community.
Pelosi, along with her fellow Democrats, proudly wore traditional African kente cloth as a symbol of connection to the black community and their heritage.
This display was meant to be a lead up to their introduction of police reform legislation as well as a visual show of support.
But what did one photo-op cost them?
It cost them a chance to connect.
It cost them admiration.
But most of all, it cost them public approval.
Unfortunately, this cloth was not just inappropriate, it was downright offensive.
The offense was twofold: the cloth symbolized a sinister slave trading past and disrespected its more modern connection with celebration, not death.
Kente cloth was traditionally made of woven silk. This was something only rich, affluent members of the community could afford. In those days, the only people who had enough money to make and wear this cloth were slave traders.
A man named Dave Brandon was the first to call out the issue in a Facebook post:
“So check this out, Kente cloth was worn by the Ashanti… The Ashanti were also known as slave owners and traders. Huh? The Ashanti’s long-time ally, the Akwamu, were among the first ones to profit from the slave trade with the Europeans. Their captives were almost always prisoners of war, but they were not above to selling Akwamu men who offended the chief,” he stated.
By wearing this cloth, Pelosi tied herself to those slave traders, demonstrating a complete and utter lack of respect and tact.
But it was not enough that the Democrats wore cloth associated with black slave traders.
In the modern day, kente cloth symbolizes celebration and is never associated with death.
Nana Efua Mumford, a writer for The Washington Post with family from Ghana, called out Pelosi’s offensive and disrespectful use of her heritage:
“My late grandfather’s kente cloth has hung in my parents’ living room for decades…At my wedding, I asked my father and brothers to wear similar kente cloth robes as they walked down the aisle. And during my daughter’s outdooring, or naming ceremony, she was draped in yellow cloth as she was introduced to our community. Those are the proper places for kente cloth. Monday’s display was an incorrect use, however well-intentioned. If you’re going to appropriate my culture, at least learn exactly what it is.”
By wearing the cloth to mourn the loss of victims of police brutality, Pelosi demonstrated her lack of understanding and respect for the black community.
The story of ignorant politicians is seemingly never-ending.
And with each day, it seems to get worse.
But there is hope.
Maybe through these mistakes, many will take this opportunity to educate themselves before they act.
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