Now Reading: How Tumblr Whitewashed the ‘Art Hoe’ Movement


How Tumblr Whitewashed the ‘Art Hoe’ Movement

January 22, 20183 min read

Tumblr is infamous for taking things with meaning and importance and turning them in to nothing more than an aesthetic. They did that with feminism, and they have done it with the art hoe movement.

I’ve never really been a huge fan of Tumblr, but every so often, I’ll open up the app and do a little bit of browsing. One day during a late night spurt of Tumblr scrolling, I came across a bunch of posts hashtagged “art hoe.” They were all photos of teenage white girls with blonde hair and bangs taking photos of their Fjallraven Kanken backpacks and Vincent Van Gogh socks. I was interested, so naturally, I googled it and read a lot about it (one of the best articles I read about it was from a magazine called Dazed). I learned that it was created for marginalized artists to have a place to express themselves.

I loved how it was such an inclusive community, or at least it was supposed to be, but I quickly noticed that specifically on Tumblr, no one really cared or understood where it came from. On Tumblr, many people were pretending like they, the artsy Tumblr users, were the ones who created it.

It was made as a way for creative voices, who are far too often silenced, to express themselves and break down stereotypes. I would have had no idea about that history if I hadn’t looked it up.Tumblr turned it in to just another aesthetic hashtag dominated by cis white people that call themselves activists, because they change their bios to say #blacklivesmatter on occasion.

They erased the very history that made it so special. It’s to the point where most people who have that “art hoe” style don’t even know where it came from or why it was created.

Some of this ignorance could have been just because of misinformation (which Tumblr is so often guilty of), but recently, people have been trying to educate others about what the movement really is. The sad thing is, no one seems to care. They just brush it off as nothing, because they want to avoid the difficult conversation.

The art hoe community was made by POC, but it is not exclusively for us. Anyone can be a part (which is the beauty of it), but it becomes problematic when Tumblr takes it and erases what it really stands for.

All I have to say is: live your life. Wear what you want. Do what you want (as long as it’s not hurting anyone). But never try and erase the history of something just so you feel more comfortable being a part of it.

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Deanna Whitlow

An internet enthusiast and book hoarder, Deanna is a passionate intersectional feminist who's always either writing or watching a movie. You'll find her with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other.