Should Kris Jenner Really Manage Black Artists?

Photo: David X Prutting/BFA/REX/Shutterstock.
Kris Jenner is nothing if not a marketing genius. If Kim Kardashian is the queen of reality TV, Kris reigns as momager supreme. She currently manages the careers of all five of her daughters: Kim, Kourtney, and Khloé Kardashian plus Kendall and Kylie Jenner. She has a hand in their endorsement deals, branding, and in some cases, their product lines. And considering the strides that her daughters have made in their respective fields, Kris is damn good at her job. Kylie Cosmetics and Kim’s KKW Beauty have taken the beauty industry by storm. Kendall is one of the most in-demand models in fashion and has walked in shows for nearly every luxury designer. Khloé has a clothing line, Good American, that did $1 million in sales on its first day. And Kourtney is quietly making the home parenting industry hip. After spending over a decade working on KUWTK alongside Ryan Seacrest, Kris has also mastered show business. She has her fingers directly on the pulse of what trends and shifts are happening across different markets. When rumors swirled on Wednesday that Kris had also assumed responsibility for the careers of Kim's husband, Kanye West and the father of Kylie's newborn daughter, Travis Scott, I didn't bat an eyelid. The truth is that there are only a few people who could do for West and Scott’s career what Kris could.
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But just because Kris would be a great manager for these two, or any Black artists, doesn’t mean she should. The success of the Kardashian-Jenners has come with numerous allegations of cultural appropriation, racial insensitivity, and white privilege. The family has been accused of pandering to people of color with their style, brand, and yes, choice of men. For Kris Jenner to call the shots — and more importantly, make a profit — in shaping any Black artist's career would be a proverbial nail in the coffin on those claims. The optics just don’t bode well.
There is also a historical context that Jenner would be coming up against. Across just about every industry, white people have been gatekeepers of both access and opportunities for people of color. In the music industry, label executives who are usually white and male dictate what’s hot and what’s not in rap and R&B, giving priority to white artists who can execute a Black sound. In sports, the players are Black, while owners and coaches are overwhelmingly white. Refinery29’s own Channing Hargrove questioned the success of Black designer Virgil Abloh in fashion over West and deduced that it was the latter’s outspokenness about race and white privilege that made the industry shun him. And then there are the Kardashian’s themselves, who get to experiment with Black beauty looks and trends that get Black girls called ghetto.
Amid speculation about how Kris might take the reins for West and Scott, Kylie hopped on Twitter to say that these rumors wasn’t true. Apparently, the mythology of Kris as a master planner had gotten the best of us. But in this case, it was probably for the best.
Refinery29 reached out to Kris Jenner for comment and at the time of this post, received no response.

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