Why NiteCap's Statement Wreaks of Privilege
On Last Friday, Fashion Magazine released an exclusive interview with founder of NiteCap, Sarah Marantz Lindenburg, where the entrepreneur discusses inspiration on where the $98 hair silk cap stemmed from. Essentially, she was looking for a product where she could keep her hair intact, without the bother of washing it everyday, and to keep her hair out of her face. While she tried silk scarfs, they didn’t suffice for they would fall off too easily in her sleep. She also discusses the benefits of wearing her product such as prevention of breakage, protection of hair follicles and frizz.
When this article was first released, individuals of the Black community were extremely irate, especially Black women. Words like “created” and phrases like “a problem needed solving” were associated with a Canadian woman finding a product similar to the infamous satin bonnet (coined as a sleeping essential in the Black community for centuries) and it caused a plethora of triggered social media users to respond. The backlash she has received from this article led her to an issued statement today:
Without going into excruciating depth of the cultural significance of Black women wearing bonnets to sleep or the Tignon Laws associated with the history of bonnets OR the deliberate public bans Black women have dealt with for wearing satin bonnets, what’s my real issue? It’s that this controversial release of NiteCap is another form of blatant colonization followed by passive apologies claiming blissful ignorance and it will continue to happen. People identifying as White have consistently repackaged something of historical value from another culture and marketed it as a new invention. When they receive backlash for it, they issue statements like “Sorry, we didn’t know.” But NiteCap’s statement? This issued statement seemed different.
For the article to state Marantz Lindenburg underwent ‘borderline obsessive research,’ she already knew claims of “I didn’t know” simply wouldn’t cut it this time around. So, instead, she admits it. While it can read as passive, she admits her failure to acknowledge the historical connection to hair wrapping and the inspiration for the product came solely off the backs of her own personal experience. Despite her listing benefits of her silk bonnet in her interview, she had zero intentions to acknowledge her findings on hair wrapping came from the Black community* because she felt like she didn’t have to. She thought failing to accredit Black affluence wasn’t important to her story and this privilege is very telling. The NiteCap wasn’t for us, it was just about her. It was about self-importance and financial gain. So, from Kim’s initial talks on trademarking kimono to Marantz Lindenburg launching her own bonnet, it can be readily argued White people have zero consideration for other cultures in the eyes of capitalism; all thanks to privilege.
*Note: This article has been edited to add an essential detail as of July 24th, 2019