Most of us are no stranger to the rise and fall of fashion trends, who could forget “popcorn shirts or trucker hats” – yikes. As one trend falls another rises but what happens when the rise of a trend comes at the expense of another cultures beliefs?
Ethnic garments that I have learned to embrace yet would have cringed at the thought of wearing in high school have now become a fashion commodity. Recently there has been an increased demand for Dashikis and an “ethnic” look. Attached to the look is the notion of“staying woke”. This includes but is not limited to wearing tribal jewelry, natural hair, having bigger lips, and wearing heavily pattered shirts.
The notion of “staying woke” at it’s core means to remain socially and consciously aware of injustices that occur in your community. In a sense it is better to “stay woke” than remain ignorant and to become desensitized to these occurrences. People have began to bash each other for wearing dashikis for the sake of the trend and not to support the cause.
If you are interested in a detailed account of the evolution of what it means to “stay woke”? Check out the article, How “woke” went from black activist watch word to teenage slang, by Charles Pulliman-Moore.
What is a Dashiki and why do you need one to “stay woke”?
A Dashiki is a brightly colored garment, typically worn by natives of West Africa. They can be worn everyday, however the ones with the intricate fabrics are usually reserved for a special occasion. My family would usually gather eloquent fabric, have us fitted and have the garments made for us to wear to the Mosque or on religious holidays. The meaning as well as the style of the dashiki varies among tribes and African countries. While they may just be clothes to some, they may have a deeply rooted ritual meaning to others. The American version of the dashiki, is an over sized top with designs printed on lightweight fabric.
This “new” version of the dashiki began in the 1960s as a testament to African culture which for many had been stripped away. We are now witnessing the reemergence of a trend that has not only defied time but has brought back the momentum of the independence movement of the 1960s.
People have used fashion as a method of supporting causes and to rebel against authority figures for decades. In the case of wearing an American dashiki, the authority is not parents who will not let you sag your pants or a school principal who dictates how short your skirt can be. The authority figure is a system that was not built for but built off of the oppression of a specific group of people.
While it is sad to see the designs of what I know to be a detailed and hand crafted garment being mass produced by machines, this product has started conversations that need to be had. They are requiring people to dig deeper into their roots and find where they come from. They are in a sense requiring people to regain consciousness which is powerful.
So the question that remains is can we “stay woke” without wearing clothing that will showcase our devotion to the cause? What do you think? Comment below.