Mary Beth Williams of Salon is fretting about fashions based on gangsta rap imagery are being marketed to white people. People at Salon like to sweat the chump change that comes our way.
At this late date I doubt that it's required that a soft-boiled culture critic inform white people that they are not "straight outta Compton." It seems that the issue of wiggerism , the appropriation of hip hop style by white teens in an effort to gather unto themselves a vestige of an elusive and ephemeral "hipness" and unearned street cred has been made discussed and mocked incessantly; it is a dead issue, I think.
There is a long, long, long history of white America stealing the art and culture of black America, a problematic dynamic that reveals the underlying disorder of racism that the diminishing ruling class cannot let go of , but as well has energized and continues to energize popular culture to the degree that a certain kind of bi-cultural transcendence happens, in the art that results if not in the righteous reconciliation of the races.
This issue, though, has less to do with racism than it does with the exploitation of a marketable style; surely no one who has witnessed hip hop/rap/rhythm and blues venture from the margins of alternative culture, the street level experimentalist of urban life and enter the mainstream in full embrace of the corporations and consumes cannot b be shocked or offended, really, by the fact that the symbols of black art wind up on fashion designs aimed for a privileged white audience, a demographic with money to spend on the latest pricy artifact of what used to be provocative.
It's not about race or racism , it's about buying into an image that is manufactured and arranged to attract the naive, the gullible, the young, the willfully stupid. It's about getting paid. That's all.