Dear Kim and Kanye, Stop F**king With Us: On Cultural Appropriation and the Commodification of Black Pain

Max S. Gordon
26 min readDec 22, 2019

by Max S. Gordon

Messin’ round with the best of them
Digressing with the rest of them,
He’s a stranger.
But his mama still knows his name.

“Sylvester”, Sly & The Family Stone


The day after it was announced that the president of the United States had been impeached, I awoke to an image of Kim Kardashian West dressed in blackface.

Already a backlash had started against her on social media. Some people were mad, while others defended her. It’s hard to create a real backlash against The Kardashian Wests, of course, because even when you are angry at them, or critical — or sometimes even inspired — it all feeds the same machine. Kim and Kanye remain true to the adage “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” As long as we are talking about them, they win. And when they win, they make money.

Because they appear to be shameless to the core, they can’t be censured in traditional ways. To be ashamed requires a line one doesn’t cross, a relationship to the sacred. A memory of a painful past, a watchful ancestral presence. You have to be able to say to yourself…



Max S. Gordon

Max S. Gordon is a writer and activist. His work has appeared in on-line and print magazines in the U.S. and internationally. Follow Max on twitter:@maxgordon19