Amandla Stenberg, 16 year old actress, Rue in the phenom Hunger Games is stirring controversy after her video on culture appropriation went viral on the social media site Tumblr. The school project was entitled: “Don’t cash crop on my cornrows: A crash discourse on Black culture.”
Stenberg tries to distinguish appropriation and admiration for black culture in the media. She states:
“The line between cultural appropriation and cultural exchange is always going to be blurred. But here’s the thing: Appropriation occurs when a style leads to racist generalizations or stereotypes where it originated, but is deemed as high fashion, cool or funny when the privileged take it for themselves. Appropriation occurs when the appropriator is not aware of the deep significance of the culture that they are partaking in. Hip-hop stems from a black struggle. It stems from jazz and blues, styles of music that African-Americans created to retain humanity in the face of adversity, which itself stems from songs used during slavery to communicate and survive. On a smaller scale but in a similar vein, braids and cornrows are not merely stylistic. They are necessary to keep black hair neat.”
Stenberg even references high end magazines like Marie Clare call cornrows a “new urban hairstyle” on Kendall Jenner. However, on Wiki’s How they have black men in cornrows deemed as gangsters.
She defines appropriation as: “Appropriation occurs when a style leads to racist generalizations or stereotypes where it originated, but is deemed as high fashion, cool, or funny when the privileged take it for themselves,”
Stenberg calls out Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Macklemore and Taylor Swift as an example of celebrities partaking in culture appropriation.
Amandla Stenberg concludes her video with the statement: “What would America be like if we loved black people as much as black culture?”
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