Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg is the latest, and perhaps youngest, voice to join the conversation about culture appropriation in Hollywood.
In a new video titled “Don’t Cash Crop On My Cornrows,” the 16-year-old black actress provides a brief history lesson about African American hair and fashion associated with hip-hop culture, and how she feels white musicians have unfairly integrated it into their lives over the years.
Stenberg calls out several stars, including Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Iggy Azalea, and Taylor Swift, for using black culture for personal gain.
“In 2013, Miley Cyrus twerks and uses black women as props. And in 2014, in one of her videos called “This Is How We Do,” Katy Perry uses Ebonics and hand gestures and eats watermelon while wearing cornrows–before cutting inexplicably to a picture of Aretha Franklin,” she explains.
Stenberg also slams Australian rapper Iggy Azalea for adopting components of black culture, but not speaking out on black issues, such as the killings of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner.
“That itself is what is so complicated when it comes to black culture,” she says. “I mean, the line between cultural appropriation and cultural exchange is always going to be blurred. 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.”
Stenberg collaborated with a classmate on the project for their history class, but it has since gone viral. In closing, the young actress poses this question to her audience:
“What would America be like if we loved black people as much as black culture?”
Watch: Amandla Sterling: Don’t Cash Crop On My Cornrows