via Huffington Post:
Luxury Italian fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana presented their Spring 2013 collection on Sunday -- and while the toy soldier printed dresses and striped rompers were kitschy, it was the images of dark-skinned, slave-like African women splashed on burlap-sack frocks and adorning the ears of models that made some people cringe.
While the decorative images and figurines -- also known as Blackamoors -- of black people dressed lavishly in turbans and jewels are largely considered collectable art, they can also be very offensive. No matter how beautiful they are, the figures still represent slavery. With that said, are you offended by D&G's use of Blackamoors?
When I first saw the earrings, I didn't think they were offensive; however, after seeing the image of the dress above (reminded me of blackface and other black caricatures) and never recalling hearing the term "Blackamoor" before, I tried to find more information that revealed what the issue really was. Apparently, this style of art originated in the 17th century in Italy, and it depicts North-African men and women (slaves) of the time period.
If you search "Blackamoor history" in Google, you'll barely find any substantial information other than the word means "very dark-skinned person" and a few debates on whether owning Blackamoor statues makes one racist. What I did find a lot of, however, were links to antique Blackamoors and people's love of collecting them (which, to me, is a bit questionable and borderline creepy). I found this one article where the blogger (who I assume is white), provides a brief background of Blackamoors and showcases the statue he has in his "old historic house". He starts his post by saying that he's not racist, and he hopes he doesn't offend anyone. Most of the commentators, who also happen to be white, don't find the post offensive at all, and, like the blogger, believe Blackamoors are artistic, decorative pieces of work. However, I did come across the following comment from a black woman:
Interesting, you acknowledge the origin of these statues (depictions of Black Africans, Moors and/or Nubian slaves), yet you neglect to mention the horrific conditions under which they lived. As an African American woman and educator, I think it should be made clear how these and other depictions of people of African descent came about. No, I am not offended; I have several Blackamoors because I believe they should be in the hands of those they represent. Furthermore, I question anyone who starts off with "I am not a racist." Perhaps not, but there is greater depth and history to these statues.
Tell me in a comment below.