Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Hunger Games Actress Amandla Stenberg Tells Fashion “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows”

While Team SPICE is thinking ‘Flower Power’ this month on the site, 16-year-old actress of The Hunger Games fame, Amandla Stenberg is thinking ‘Black Power,’ being caught sounding off on the fashion industry and pop culture’s misappropriation of black culture – in particular, its use of black hairstyles in fashion and mainstream music, with a video titled “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows.”

Asking “what would America be like if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?” the young stunner states;

“Appropriation occurs when a style leads to racist generalisations or stereotypes where it originated but is deemed as high-fashion, cool or funny when the privileged take it for themselves.”

Deep. And an accurate summarising from the teen, whose name “Amandla” means “power” in Zulu.


Deeper still, is how Amandla, whose video was originally intended for a school friend’s class project, but has gone viral since being posted to Tumblr, delves into the recent history and rise of black culture’s popularity in the mainstream, taking aim at fashion houses like Alexander McQueen and Marchesa, whose models (Caucasian for the most part) have walked the runways wearing cornrows.

Amandla as Rue in The Hunger Games
Amandla as character Rue in The Hunger Games

Amandla’s run-through of the last decade pointed out;

“Black hair has always been an essential component of black culture… Braids, locs, twists and cornrows…. As the early 2000s turned into 2010s, white people began to wear clothing and accessories associated with hip hop…

..By 2013, the fashion world had adopted cornrows as well – cornrows and braids were seen on high fashion runways for brands like Marchesa and Alexander McQueen, and magazines had editorial campaigns featuring cornrows as a new ‘urban’ hairstyle.”

A model rocking cornrows backstage at Alexander McQueen’s Autumn/Winter’14 showcase

In the video, which goes onto discuss the police brutality documented recently in America and the rise of white rappers in the media, Ms Stenberg concludes;

“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.

Appropriation occurs when the appropriator is not aware of the deep significance of the culture that they are partaking in.”

Speaking eloquently and providing a thorough, thought-provoking evaluation of blackness in mass media, Amandla Stenberg’s video is well worth a watch – do that below and let us know your thoughts on the topic in the comments box or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @SPICETVAFRICA.

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