B*#%h Stole My Look, Nah Let’s Be Serious
By now we are all used to the debate of black culture being stolen by…lets say, the larger majority of Americans. Hopefully you can catch the hint.
The debate has recently fallen on the shoulders of the 16 year old actress Amandla Stenberg, who has held roles in Hunger Games, Columbiana, and Sleepy Hollow, just to name a few.
Amandla Stenberg is best known for her role as “Rue” in The Hunger Games and has recently been the cause of much controversy after taking the lead on the conversation of race relations and culture in America.
Recently, the 16 year old actress posted a school video project on her Tumblr, titled ” Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows: A crash discourse on black culture. In the video Amandla discusses the meaning of cultural appropriation and race in pop culture and uses stars such as Miley Cirus and Iggy Azalea as examples of “black cultural appropriation.”
In the video Amandla acknowledges that is not always easy to say what is admiration and what is appropriation but tries to clear the distinction between the two by giving a definition for appropriation. The actress says:
“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.”
The actresses video has left the social media world ablaze and reactions to it, many of which are in praise of Amandla, are non stop.
This was not the actresses first role in the debate in race relations. Amandla’s first take on race came soon after the airing of the first Hunger Games movie. Finding that “Rue” was black many Hunger Game fans found themselves disgruntled and took to the internet voicing their disbelief that the young heroine, as well as other key protagonists, were black. One fan even went as far to say,“Why did the producer make all the good characters black?”
In her video Stendberg goes on to discuss the recent cases of police brutality against and raises the question: “What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we loved black culture?”
This post was written by Reginald Calhoun. He is a junior Mass Media Arts major at Clark Atlanta University. Follow him on Twitter @IRMarsean and on Instagram @Les_geaux_jawn