“White girl, take OFF your hoops!”
That was the message spray-painted on the “free-speech” wall of a dormitory by a group of Latina students at Pitzer College, a pricey private university in Claremont, California, that charges $66,192 a year for tuition, fees, room and board.
White girls at the school were accused of cultural appropriation when they wear the popular, circular earrings.
Hoop earrings date back to ancient Rome, Greece and ancient Sumerian culture. The classic ear accessories have been particularly popular among American women of every race since the 1960s and 1970s.
In August last year, Pitzer College made headlines when students refused to room with white people.
Now, the “women of color” responsible for the new message are demanding white females remove their hoop earrings, “winged eyeliner” and gold nameplate necklaces – which they described as symbols of “resistance.” They accused white people of “appropriating styles … that belong to the black and brown folks” and “exploiting the culture.”
When a white student dared to ask questions about the “art,” Alegria Martinez, member of the “Latinx Student Union” emailed the following message to the entire student body, according to the Claremont Independent:
[T]he art was created by myself and a few other WOC [women of color] after being tired and annoyed with the reoccuring [sic] theme of white women appropriating styles … that belong to the black and brown folks who created the culture. The culture actually comes from a historical background of oppression and exclusion. The black and brown bodies who typically wear hooped earrings, (and other accessories like winged eyeliner, gold name plate necklaces, etc) are typically viewed as ghetto, and are not taken seriously by others in their daily lives. Because of this, I see our winged eyeliner, lined lips, and big hoop earrings serving as symbols [and] as an everyday act of resistance, especially here at the Claremont Colleges. Meanwhile we wonder, why should white girls be able to take part in this culture (wearing hoop earrings just being one case of it) and be seen as cute/aesthetic/ethnic. White people have actually exploited the culture and made it into fashion.
Martinez also posted the following message to Facebook, in which she added: “White girls everywhere: we ask that you take off your hoops, stop calling each other mamis, and start respecting our culture and our existence.”
Another Latina student who also claimed credit for the hoop-earrings “art,” Jacquelyn Aguilera, responded to the original email thread:
If you didn’t create the culture as a coping mechanism for marginalization, take off those hoops, if your feminism isn’t intersectional take off those hoops, if you try to wear mi cultura when the creators can no longer afford it, take off those hoops, if you are incapable of using a search engine and expect other people to educate you, take off those hoops, if you can’t pronounce my name or spell it … take off those hoops / I use “those” instead of “your” because hoops were never “yours” to begin with.
In another headline-making incident, this time in 2016, Pitzer student senator Gregory Ochiagha sent out an email to the student body blasting a mural depicting a handgun with roses emerging from the barrel.
He claimed the art was “emotionally triggering” and caused him to think about “how many Black lives have been taken away because of police brutality.”
“My Black Mental and Emotional Health Matters,” Ochiagha wrote. “I shouldn’t be reminded every time I leave my dorm room of how easy my life can be taken away, or how many Black lives have been taken away because of police brutality.”