Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive


“Dead white man’s clothing

I just read this really offensive article in the LA Times "Dead White Man’s Clothing"  by Davan Maharaj.  It is part of a series of reports on sub-Saharan African – another one of these endless "poor starving African" badly written reports.  This one  even has a flash video to go with the report – you would think they were talking about watching animals in a zoo – its really awful stuff.


This one is about second hand clothes.

In Africa, the West’s castoff clothes are de rigueur, not demeaning. Nearly everyone has to buy used.

Excuse me but don’t they have 2nd hand cloths in the West?  I can’t speak for the US but in Europe there are flea markets, car boot sales, and charity shops all selling 2nd/3rd hand cloths and its not just poor immigrants and refugees buying. 

Why do people have to buy new cloths, new furniture, new things all the time? This is so bloody American.  I refuse to buy anything new or even pay for something unless that is the only way.  I am not poor or rich but just choose not to constantly feed into buy buy buy.   If you really try you can furnish your home from cast offs, build a shed from recycled wood, tile your home from used or broken tiles. All that is required is a little imagination.  Same with kids toys, people go and buy new ones and wonder why kids have no creativity – give them a pile of junk and see what happens.

Much of Africa was once draped in fabrics of flamboyant color and pattern, products of local industry and a reflection of cultural pride. But with half of its people surviving on less than a dollar a day, the continent has become the world’s recycling bin. People scramble for 10-cent underpants, 20-cent T-shirts and dollar blue jeans discarded by Westerners.

The author is trying to relate the sale of used clothes with the decline of indigenous textile industry.  I don’t see the connection unless it is because people are too poor to pay for new fabrics which is a different issue altogether.   If I can’t afford to buy wrapper and there are no used clothes to buy then what am I supposed to wear.  People are not going to stop buying local textiles if and when they can afford it at least not West Africans who love their traditional dress. The only thing I would draw the line at is used undies but people do what they have to do and this is not stooping low its doing what you have to do and there is nothing wrong or demeaning about that. There are serious issues in Africa to be reporting about and buying and selling used clothes is not in my opinion one of them .  If this was a story about buying and selling used clothes in the west then the whole tone would be completely different but as its Africa its derogatory and negative.

1 Comment

  1. vm

    Have you ever been to Africa? I was born in West Africa lived there for 13 years and have visisted 5 times since then. This used clothing issue is a huge deal. Think about it for a second. If there were none of these second hand clothes people would be forced to buy local garments at a higher price and have few clothes. Perhaps wear the same two outfits every day. However with these cheap clothes they can buy more clothes. They have the choice to do that and who wouldn’t. So while everyone there would have a couple of traditional outfits to wear on Sundays, religious festivals, etc., most other people wear western clothes most of the time. You only need to walk down downtown Accra or Kampala or Ethiopia or Doula to see what is happening.