I’m just going to get this out in the open right now: I am not a fan of the Kardashians. At all. But I’ve remained (publicly) silent over the years about the clan because I believe in live and let live.
But as the news came in yesterday that the sister’s companies served papers to Blac Chyna to keep her from trademarking her own name, I told myself this inflated holy-than-thou delusions of grandeur, relevance, and originality had gone too far. Because the truth is, the Kardashian’s have built their brands on the backs of others. And now they are worried someone is going to do to them what they did to so many others. And we all know Kris and the Kardash kids don’t like being on the receiving end of their own media manipulation.
But that’s called Karma — the only K word that really matters.
And to serve papers to someone because you are afraid that your company will “suffer damage including irreparable injury to [your] reputation and goodwill” ignores the fact that said companies began by transforming an amateur porn star into a multi-million dollar brand, so who are you to cast the first stone?
But the denial to allow Blac Chyna to use a name that will legally be hers anyway if and when she marries Rob Kardashian is kinda like the time Kim’s friend Paris Hilton tried to trademark “that’s hot.” While the brand might be yours, the name is not.
And speaking of brands, here are some the Kardashian’s stepped on to create theirs.
The Kardashian Beauty line was originally called Khroma, a name that they stole from a small beauty makeup company in Beverly Hills called Chroma Makeup Studios. Chroma sued the Kardashians because they were worried the sisters would ruin the brand they spent 12 years building. Chroma ultimately won and the name of their beauty line was changed.
Fashion brands? Not so much, since the Kardashians have been accused and sued for design piracy for pretty much every fashion element under the sun — jewelry, clothing, and the infamous Monica Botkier ‘Clyde’ handbag. Oh, even Kim’s perfume logo was lifted from a lesser known artist.
But let’s talk about the real issue here. The appropriation of Black culture. Women of color, specifically Black women, have called out the Kardashians, the media, and fans that love them for the glorification of their culture when it’s being worn by the famous family while they themselves are being vilified for sporting it. Just look at how these two headlines differ when talking about Blackness and hair as it relates to the Kardashians North West Ditches Her Ballerina Bun for Free-Flowing Curls vs. the Carters, Blue Ivy’s Hair is Perfect and You Should Shut Up About It. Telling isn’t it?
The fact of the matter is, the Kardashians’ have been appropriating Black culture for profit and serving it to the public as fashion chic for years. But now that there’s a threat of a legit Black woman coming to claim her (rightful) throne in their empire, they are scared shitless about what Chyna’s image will do to their socially accepted watered-down version of Blackness. In other words, they are deeply concerned about the ghettofication of their own personal whitewash brand of Black: plaits, big booties, dreads, big lips, ‘bantu babe’ but also the threat that Blac Chyna’s Blackness poses to their ability to navigate and shift between the worlds of Whiteness and Blackness.
Because no matter how Black they want to be, there is no real threat of anyone calling the Kardashian women “black ape[s] with a monkey nose and big forehead” because Armenian-America is not the same as Black America.
And the Kardashians are not Black.
But Blac Chyna is. And not in a Kayne West stop-talking-about-racism, let’s-assimilate-into-White-fashion-culture’ kind of Black, but Black in a way that makes mainstream society uncomfortable because it doesn’t necessarily want to assimilate into the ready-made boxes of Blackness that are labeled ‘okay.’ And she didn’t emerge from a vat of Calabasas social class, privilege, and money either. Chyna has tattoos. She’s danced in rap videos. She’s not afraid to call Hollywood out. She stripped. And she’s somehow beat the odds and made a name for herself, by herself — a feat I’m sure none of the Kardashian women could have done without daddy’s money and name on the tips of Hollywood’s lips.
But most importantly, Blac Chyna is smart. The kind of savvy and smart that rips the throne right out from under those who are not really meant to sit in it. Because realness and authenticity will always be a threat to an empire built on imposters.
But what the Kardashian’s fear most is loss of control. Of their image, of their brand, of their family. And while they may be able to control the media, they can’t control the one thing that has always threatened to reveal that the Kardashian empire is wearing no clothes — their brother.
And now Blac Chyna.
Or Miss Angela Renée Kardashian if you’re nasty.