‘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’
Amandla Stenberg has once again thrust herself in to the midst of a debate about cultural appropriation. Earlier this year the 16-year old Hunger Games star recorded a video called Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows in which she called out pop culture icons such as Alexander McQueen, Marchesa, Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry for stealing black aesthetics but failing to ally themselves with African-American culture when it comes to defending real issues such as police brutality.
This weekend, Kylie Jenner uploaded a photo to her Instagram of herself posing in a grey tracksuit with her hair styled in cornrows, along with the caption "I woke up like disss". Stenberg left a damning (now-deleted) comment underneath the image.
"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," she wrote.
Jenner offered little in the way of defence, saying "mad if I don’t, mad if I do" and suggesting that Stenberg should "go and hang out w Jaden", presumably a reference to Jaden Smith, who Jenner used to date.
Jenner has been called out for culturally appropriating before – in February of this year she sported dreadlocks, inviting criticism from a feminist blogger called Ginger Mayo. Both the blogger and Stenberg reference the problem of remaining silent on racism while fetishising black culture and traditions.
In April, Jenner also controversially donned what critics perceived as "blackface" in a series of photos posted to Instagram.
So are Ginger Mayo and Amandla Stenberg right to hit out at Jenner? Reality TV stars aside, white women (and men) with dreadlocks are all over the UK – should they be aware of the deeper cultural significance of their hairstyle? Perhaps it's time for a long hard look in the mirror. Read Stenberg’s short blog below, posted today.