Not only did little Rue from the Hunger Games grow up to be a beautiful young lady, she is a well spoken one at that.
Amandla Stenberg, who starred in the first of the Hunger Games films as well as Colombiana, recently spoke on cultural appropriation in a video she did for a class project. Titled ‘Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows’ the video, which she posted on her Tumblr page, quickly went viral and caught the attention of media outlets.
Amandla hits many great points in her video, going through the history of hip hop culture crossing over to the main stream and the instances of when black culture started to get co-opted for the sake of style and being ‘edgy’.
“Appropriation occurs when a style leads to racist generalizations or stereotypes of where it originated but is deemed as high-fashion, cool or funny when the privileged take it for themselves, defined by Amandla.
She points out artists like Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Iggy Azalea who have used black culture as their ticket to fame, proving just how ‘rampant’ appropriation has become. Amandla notes, “Hip hop stems from a black struggle, it stems from jazz and blues, styles of music African-Americans created to retain humanity in the face of adversity.”
I wrote about the same thing last October, Culture Vultures, looking at how main stream magazines were celebrating trends that were clearly appropriated from black culture. But not until a Kardashian does it or a fashion magazine labels it as ‘in’ can it be called a trend. When black people do it, it’s not note worthy.
My favourite line from Amandla’s video comes in at the end – “What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?”
Please take in the video and let me know your thoughts.