Here’s Why Melania Trump’s White Hat Is Stirring Controversy
Another one of Melania Trump’s massive white hats is making headlines — but not in a good way.
The First Lady was photographed wearing a Pith helmet, also known as a safari helmet, while traipsing around the Nairobi National Park on Friday afternoon, where she was also photographed feeding orphaned baby elephants. She is currently on day five of her week-long tour of Africa.
The New York Times‘s Katie Rogers points out that the hat has become a symbol of the exploitation of Africans given its history as part of the uniform of colonialists in the early 19th century.
“When people think of Africa, they have these standard narratives,” Kim Yi Dionne, a political science professor who specializes in African politics at the University of California, Riverside, told the Times. “Her attire is a signal of her understanding of what Africa is in 2018. It’s tired and it’s old and it’s inaccurate.”
A resident of Nairobi, Pauleen Mwalo, wrote on Twitter: “That Pith helmet you have carried was used by colonialists during the dark days. Doesn’t sit well with us Africans.”
She added, “Who advised you?”
The First Lady’s offensive headwear choice comes just months after her explosive, “I really don’t care do u?” jacket. If her goal in Africa was to mend relationships — which may have been suffering following the President’s alleged “shithole countries” comment earlier this summer — she seems to have missed the mark completely.