Dolce And Gabbana featured some awfully eye-catching looks on the runway last week, with bright head scarves, stand out prints and, oh, some accessories people are calling racist. Even though it's 2012 and most people (especially world-recognized fashion designers) should know better, models on the runway sported earrings featuring black women that some people are calling "cartoonish, debasing, subaltern [and] blatantly exploitative.”.

People have been saying that the jewelry resembles offensive "mammy" figurines from past decades, and that the designers have made a huge mistake. But D&G are leaping in to claim that the earrings aren't meant to be racist...they're supposed to be a tribute to a completely different culture:

The head is inspired by Moorish features. Moorish is a term used to define many peoples throughout history…In Sicily’s case it defines the conquerors of Sicily [from 827 to 902 AD.]

It goes on to explain that 'these beautiful artifacts' are typically made out of a glazed ceramic, called Maiolica, which has deep historical meaning in Italy, and that they are in fact very common in homes, hotels, and restaurants in Sicily–a city that continues to inspire the designers.

Other designers have used blackamoor as inspiration for collections, but it's also apparently not inoffensive. In 1983 Diana Vreeland strangely wrote, “Blackamoors have been commemorated, in jewelry, in Russia, Venice, very eighteenth and nineteenth century…I’m told it’s not in good taste to wear blackamoors anymore, but I think I’ll revive them.” [via Fashionista]

What do you think of these earrings? Are they racist?