16 year old actor Amandla Stenberg — famous for portraying Rue in Liongate’s “Hunger Games” (HGs) films — has, once again, put a White, female, and privileged celebrity on blast for retailing Blackness.
Everyone knows that America has always prioritized (read profit from) Black culture over actual Black lives, or #BlackMeansWhiteEnds.
Way back when, Stenberg had to drop knowledge on her Hollywood colleagues regarding this truth. The opportunity arose after the fan backlash that followed the debut of her HGs character’s poster. The pandamonium centered on Rue’s race. Snarky and colorblind-racist comments such as “Shes Black?” found their way on Facebook, prompting some writers to muse on the default White person central to American identity, and a direct response from Stenberg, who vlogged on Tumblr about cultural appropriation. Her comments ranged from exploring stereotypes and fashion to hip hop and black hair, and dissecting the artistry of Katie Perry, Taylor Swift, and Miley Cyrus, to vindicate her points about white celebrities cashing in on Blackness.
Now, there’s Kylie Jenner. Because it wouldn’t be a week without a Kardashian making the news for some absurdity.
Shit hit the fan after an instagram of Kylie posing in a crop top, jogging pants, and dreadlocks surfaced on the web, captioned with “I woke up like disss.”
Did you, now?
Stenberg begged to differ, and offered an alternative caption of the photo:
“When u appropriate Black features and culture but fail to use ur position of power to help black Americans by directing attention towards ur wigs instead of police brutality or racism #whitegirlsdoitbetter.”
In a telling retort, Jenner slept on the criticism, reportedly responding with
“Mad if I do. Mad if I don’t. Go hang w Jaden or something,”; yes, the same Jaden Smith at the core of #CareFreeBlackBoy, who has sparked a debate on black masculinity in many black circles, and much mansplaining of wardrobe genderbending. But that’s a different story.
This isn’t the first time Kylie Jenner has been lambasted for appropriating blackness, and it certainly won’t be the last. Props to Stenberg, and other black celebrities, who use the broad reach of their platform to speak up when needed on this pressing problem, and other issues impacting Black communities.
That being said, I leave the Perrys and Swifts and Cyrus’s and Azaleas and, especially, the Jenners with the well-formulated thoughts of one of their own, presented in the aforementioned vlog entitled Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows:
“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.”
“What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?”