“Don’t Cash Crop on My Cornrows”

“What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?” This is the question that Amandla Stenberg, an actress best known for her role as Rue in the Hunger Games, raises in the above video. She discusses the rampant cultural appropriation occurring in the entertainment industry, as white celebrities eagerly adopt black fashion, hairstyles, vernacular, and dances while remaining silent on black issues.

One of the most notable figures she calls out is Iggy Azalea, an Australian white woman who is notorious for becoming famous due to her false “hood” persona, “curvy” figure, and “rapping” skills while simultaneously dubbing herself a “runaway slave master”. Pause. Other prominent musicians that Stenberg criticizes are Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry, two women who consistently use black women, culture, and stereotypes as cool props in their music videos and performances.

And of course, no one can forget Macklemore, a white artist who was awarded the 2014 Grammy for Best Rap Album as well as a Grammy for Best Rap Performance and one for Best Rap Song Title–while acclaimed black rapper Kendrick Lamar left empty-handed. This is not to say that a white individual should not be able to garner recognition for rapping; however, it simply illustrates that blacks must work much harder to gain the same positions, respect, and accolades as their white counterparts.

As Rowan Pope, Olivia Pope’s father in the hit show Scandal tells her, “You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have”. This is true not only in the entertainment industry and politics, but in every aspect of life, including beauty. When Kendall Jenner wears a cornrowed hairstyle and she is praised on magazine covers and in the media for her “edgy” and “bold” style while black women are shunned and discouraged from wearing their natural locks in movies, on stage, at work, IN PUBLIC–we have a problem. A deep one. Amandla Stenberg is right: America loves blackness–it just doesn’t like blacks.



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