A Response to: Money Has No Smell The Africanization of New York City

” They Just wanted to wear those caps, which make them feel, more connected to the African tradition”

The passage stated “on 125th street in Harlem, African Americans bought “african Kente” caps from West African street vendors who purchased the caps from Asian Suppliers” This is a great example of how reproduction has devoured the value of old traditions and cultivated cultural trends are now apart of a fad. The Kente caps are no longer original they are market good and consumers think they are african made because of the african vendors. This is a realistic example of market strategy to sell, and this strategy works because it is marketing afro-centricity which is an ideology and identity.

When I think about the idea of people buying reproductions that they think are traditional or a  symbol of tradition it brings me back to Walter Benjamin response to mechanical reproduction.

I think of how these reproductions have an effect on its traditional forms these “african kente caps” lacks originality the textile doesn’t have a presence in time and space,it doesn’t have a unique existence it is just a cap. Like  Moussa Diallo said in the passage “…they were just kente caps that’s all. The African American were happy to buy them.”  You know some think they are caps from africa but the truth is they are asian made. There is no authenticity, there is no africa tradition and therefore the quality is always depreciated. The fact that these kente caps are reproductions that detaches them from the domain of traditions, they don’t have african aura anymore so I don’t think they should be titled “African Kente Caps.” The percept of an object like this can be changed. Buyers are going to have these caps and perceive or value them in their on way.

I look at consumer goods like the kente caps as just a material good that is anti-aesthetic. These things are just machine made, and supposedly be a symbol of africa, and it is definitely a discourse of afro-centricity which is a commercial ideology for selling such goods like the kente cloth. It is Just like we buy other things that have no value just a item we bought because it was cheap, affordable and just a quick fad. It is just like buying a hat that is american styled from donna karen but it was made in china.  Everything is mass marketed and apart economy MONEY HAS NO SMELL. Just as the “African Kente Cap” these item has NO Authenticity…



About kelseo

Fashion Student At Parsons The New School For Design

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