This “Hunger Games” Star Perfectly Explains Cultural Appropriation
16-year-old Amandla Stenberg played Rue in “Hunger Games,” but her career as an actor and activist is just getting started. The evidence is on her Tumblr, where she posted a video she and a classmate made for their history class. Titled, “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows,” the video shows Stenberg explaining the appropriation of black culture.
She charts the popularity of braids as one representation of black culture, noting how, after R&B stars like Alicia Keys and R. Kelly wore cornrows, pop musicians (Christina Aguilera, Fergie) began co-opting the style, which eventually spread to high fashion. Stenberg continues:
"In 2013, Miley Cyrus twerks and uses black women as props, and then in 2014, in one of her videos called 'This Is How We Do,' Katy Perry uses Ebonics and hand gestures and eats watermelons while wearing cornrows before cutting inexplicably to a picture of Aretha Franklin. So as you can see, cultural appropriation was rampant.”
Stenberg goes on to highlight the stark contrast between the growing popularity of black culture and rampant police brutality against black people. “Appropriation occurs when the appropriator is not aware of the deep significance of the culture that they are partaking in,” she concludes, before leaving her audience with a powerful question:
“What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we loved black culture?”