It may not have been her “I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” jacket, but first lady Melania Trump’s white pith helmet choice for her safari in Kenya on Friday was offensive enough for some Africans and those who study the continent’s history.
The white helmet is a common symbol of colonial rule. European militaries used the helmet in their colonies across Africa, according to Gentleman’s Gazette.
Trump’s headwear choice showed she was out of touch with Africa, said Kim Yi Dionne, a political-science professor at the University of California, Riverside, specializing in African politics.
“When people think of Africa, they have these standard narratives,” Dionne told The New York 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.”
Historian Matt Carotenuto, who coordinates St. Lawrence University’s African Studies program, told CNN that Trump’s hat pick was like her showing up to “an Alabama cotton farm in a confederate uniform.”
“Melania completes the stereotype trifecta–elephants, orphans and even the pith helmet,” he tweeted.
It is unclear whether Trump was aware of the helmet’s symbolic meaning. Her office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Newsweek on Friday.
The first lady’s helmet is not her most controversial outfit choice to date. That title goes to the “I really don’t care. Do U?” jacket she wore in June to visit detained migrant children in Texas. Trump’s critics interpreted the jacket as a sending the message that she did not care about child detention, but her spokeswoman Stephanie said that wardrobe choice was not meant to send any message.
Trump through various other actions during her five-day Africa tour—her first foreign trip without her husband President Donald Trump—showed more sensitivity.
Earlier on Friday in Kenya, she fed formula to baby elephants, and stuck around for a while longer even after one of the animals shoved and nearly knocked her over. In Malawi on Thursday, she read to children and promoted her “Be Best” initiative for kids’ well-being. In Ghana on Wednesday, she said she was “very honored” to visit a palace named after her husband’s predecessor Barack Obama and said it was “very emotional” to walk around a former slave trading post.
“I will never forget [the] incredible experience and the stories I heard,” she said Wednesday.
Her choice to travel to Africa has been seen by some as a slight against her husband, who in January reportedly referred to African nations as “shithole countries.”Number of Palestinians wounded in Friday Gaza clashes reaches 376