A video of Hunger Games‘ Amandla Stenberg criticizing white pop stars who she feels have capitalized greatly by borrowing elements of black culture, has surfaced online. Stenberg addressed Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Madonna, and others in her video called “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows.” “Pop stars and icons adopted black culture as a way of being edgy and gaining attention. In 2013, Miley Cyrus twerks and uses black women as props,” the 16-year old actress stated. She continued, “Then in 2014, in one of her videos called ‘This Is How We Do,’ Katy Perry uses Ebonics and hand gestures and eats watermelon while wearing cornrows before cutting inexplicably to a picture of Aretha Franklin. So as you can see, cultural appropriation was rampant.”
Stenberg’s video also shows celebrities such as Madonna with a gold grill over her teeth, and Kesha and Kim Kardashian with their hair styled with cornrows. “Black women have always done their hair [like this], it’s just a part of our identity…braids, locks, twists, and cornrows. You can see why hair is such a big part of hip-hop and rap culture,” the actress explained. “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows” showed footage of Taylor Switch’s hip-hop influenced music video “Shake It Off,” too.
The actress tackled the issue when Azealia Banks criticized Iggy Azalea for not commenting on the jury’s decision not to indict the New York police officer who killed Eric Garner, after putting him in a chokehold. Banks tweeted last year that “It’s funny to see people like Igloo Australia [Iggy Azalea] silent when these things happen…Black culture is cool, but black issues sure aren’t huh,” Banks wrote. “I’ve been seeing this question a lot on social media, and I think it’s really relevant. What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we love black culture,” Stenberg asked.
Stenberg also stated, “That itself is what is so complicated when it comes to black culture. 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.” The actress believes appropriation occurs when a person borrows elements of a culture, without having the knowledge or full awareness of the culture they are emulating. Stenberg’s video has caused quite a stir on social media. Some people have praised the actress for addressing these race-related issues, while others have labeled the 16-year old actress a racist and bigot.
FDRMX Eyes: Nick Deutsch is a singer-songwriter based in New York City. Deutsch has released his latest music video for his song, “Crazy Ride.”