‘Hunger Games’ actress Amandla Stenberg — remember little Rue from the first movie — appeared in a video online earlier this week called “Don’t Cash Crop On My Cornrows.”
The video, which was made with a classmate, starts out talking about black and black culture.
“Black women have always done their hair, it’s just a part of our identity; braids, locks, twists and cornrows, etc.,” she said.
The young woman, 16, shows her maturity by explaining the functionality of the different hairstyles for black women.
“You can see why hair is such a big part of Hip-Hop and rap culture,” she adds, explaining how rap and Hip-Hop culture eventually became popular and a crossover phenomenon when the likes of white rappers like Eminem hit big in the early 2000’s.
As the 2000’s became the 2010’s, Stenberg, 16, cited how other celebrities began wearing clothing, hair styles and accessories associated with Hip-Hop.
“By 2013, the fashion world had adopted cornrows as well,” she explains. “Pop stars and icons adopted black culture as a way of being edgy and getting attention,” citing Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry.
The purpose of the actress’s video was to explain cultural appropriation.
While new white Hip-Hop artists like Iggy Azalea were excelling, “at the same time, police brutality against black people came to the forefront,” she added.
Michael Brown and Eric Garner, among others, are brought up as examples by Stenberg. She said that some white artists that cashed in on Hip-Hop have failed recently to speak out about racial injustice.
“That itself is what is so complicated when it comes to black culture,” Stenberg said. “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.”
She added that appropriation happens when the person taking on the culture is not aware of the deep significance of the “culture they are partaking in.”
To close, Stenberg posed a question: “What would America be like if we loved black people as much as black culture?” she said.