Outrage at Democrats Wearing Kente Cloth During Moment of Silence: ‘So Woke It Actually Feels Racist’

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 08: (L-R) Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Senate Minority Leader Charles Sc
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Democrat lawmakers, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), are facing overwhelming backlash after opting to wear Kente cloth during their nearly nine-minute moment of silence in a show against police brutality. Many users across social media questioned their motives and blasted them for missing the mark.

Pelosi and fellow Democrat lawmakers, including Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), took a knee on Monday for eight minutes and 46 seconds as a show of solidarity with Americans protesting police brutality and remembering those who have died, including George Floyd, Michael Brown, and Trayvon Martin. Democrats could be seen kneeling in unison, with most wearing Kente cloth — a special fabric with deep and meaningful origins rooted in West Africa — in a seeming attempt to show further solidarity with the black community. Their attempt, however, appeared to many to fall flat.

“There is more Kente fabric in this picture than at a Ghanaian traditional wedding,” pro-life activist Obianuju Ekeocha said.

“The DC African-fabric shop is probably now sold out in order to meet the demand of this ridiculous tokenism by Democrat politicians. Dear Africans step aside! #CulturalAppropriation at its worst,” she continued, blasting Democrats for glossing over the importance of the fabric with the Ghanaian identity, specifically:

“Excuse me dear Democrats in your tokenism you didn’t wait to find out that this thing that you’re hanging around your neck is not just some African uniform,” she continued in a video response. “These fabrics … they all mean something to us”:

“The Democrats have no interest in black America. These fools think that because they put some Kente cloth on they’re going to get the black vote?” Errol Webber, Republican candidate for California’s 37th congressional district, said in part:

“As Congressmembers ice their knees and put away their kente cloth graduation stolls, I hope they consider supporting a monthly stimulus check,” Briahna Joy Gray, former National Press Secretary for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), quipped:

“Folks really think Black people are a joke,” author and former Warren surrogate Frederick Joseph tweeted.

“I still can’t wrap my mind around the fact that they draped these white people in kente cloth to ‘honor’ him,” Joseph said in another tweet. “This has to be hell.”

Backlash continued to roll in, and it was both swift and severe:

As described by ThoughtCo:

Although kente cloth is now identified with the Akan people in West Africa, and particularly the Asante Kingdom, the term originates from the neighboring Fante. Kente cloth is closely related to Adinkra cloth, which has symbols stenciled into cloth and is associated with mourning.​

As one of the prominent symbols of African arts and culture, Kente cloth has been embraced by the broader African diaspora (which means people of African descent wherever they might live.) Kente cloth is particularly popular in the United States among African-Americans and can be found on all types of clothing, accessories, and objects. These designs replicate registered Kente designs, but are often mass-produced outside of Ghana with no recognition or payment going to the Akan craftsmen and designers, which Boatema Boateng has argued represents a significant loss of income to Ghana.

The Ultimate History Project also emphasized Kente cloth’s history with the Ashanti people, which is “strongly tied to the history of the slave trade”:

“From the ancient history of the Ashanti Kingdom, to the Pan-African spread of tradition during the trans-Atlantic slave trade, to modern day interpretations and use of cultural heritage, the Kente cloth is both symbolic and representative of the history of the Ashanti people.

Pelosi spoke ahead of the collective moment of silence on Monday as Democrats gathered in Emancipation Hall at the U.S. Capitol.

“That tragedy, that hour of history … slavery in our own country and then all the consequences of that — we are here to observe that pain,” Pelosi said as the Kente cloth draped around her neck.

“We are here to respect the actions of the American people to speak out against that, specifically manifested in police brutality,” she added ahead of their moment of silence, struggling to stand back up as it concluded:


Democrats on Monday unveiled their latest police reform bill, the Justice in Policing Act, which bans chokeholds, no-knock warrants, and includes a racial bias training program, among other reforms.


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