Amandla Stenberg recently made news for her statements on the cultural appropriation of cornrows and it made me happy. Let me start by saying that I’m a die-hard fan girl for the Hunger Games series. So the fact that Little Rue grew up and became a black progressive, just adds icing to the warmly baked cake in my heart. Moving on to a heavier topic; her video was thorough, understandable and fair. For the nay-sayers who only think she is playing the black card, you’ve got it totally wrong.
Let me explain this in laymens terms. The “privileged” in our society is white people. Why white people? Because as of now, they inhibit and control majority of America. So naturally the culture developed in our American society will cater to the majority. Then here comes the black community; we’ve always been here for awhile but lurked in the shadows. We later gained our independence but it took us a while for that right to be respected. Finally; when we reach some form of equality and have built a sub-culture of our own to thrive in, it finds it’s way to a white millennial; (Cue the creeky piano that screeches DUN-DUN-DUN-DUH)
This is where the problem comes in.
Let me tell a story.
Let’s say there’s a black girl named Shanice. And Shanice has a white friend named Sarah. Sarah and Shanice are both engaged and will soon be married. Shanice has her wedding and during the service, she and her husband jump over a beautiful broom when walking down the aisle. Sarah sees that as something cool and different for a wedding; so she implements it into her own. So when Sarah and her husband jump a broom at their wedding, some of her other engaged friends add it to their wedding, and so on until it becomes a trend. Now all of these white people start jumping all types of brooms at their weddings. So Shanice and many other black people feel offended by this. Why you ask? Because the reason why black people jump brooms at their weddings is to honor their past relatives during slavery who secretly married by jumping over brooms (true fact). Do you get it now? Some things that white people imitate or integrate into their lifestyle is necessary for the livelihood of African Americans. It is done with purpose; not to be trendy, cool or different. And it gets out of hand when everything a black person does is “cool” or “exotic” for the privileged to do; generalizing African Americans to a one dimensional community.
I’m so proud of Amandla Sternberg for doing this because it takes courage and will to speak on a topic so deep-rooted and controversial. I don’t know of any person that could have explained it better. In conclusion, don’t be afraid to explore or even try different cultures, just be aware of the purpose and the meaning behind what you apply to your life. And have respect for the ones who live the culture everyday.
And for the people that are still not convinced; if one group of people exploit another, even if it is a style or a language, it becomes a dangerous slippery slope and leads again to the idea of entitlement and ego-centric supremacy.
If you want to see the video yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1KJRRSB_XA