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Amandla Stenberg: Don't Cash Crop On My Cornrows

  • 0:05 - 0:08
    So black hair has always been
    an essential component of black culture.
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    Black hair requires upkeep in order
    for it to grow and remain healthy,
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    so black women
    have always done their hair.
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    It's just a part of our identity:
    braids, locs, twists and cornrows, etc.
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    Cornrows are a really functional way
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    of keeping black textured hair unknotted
    and neat, but like with style.
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    So you can see why hair is such a big part
    of hip hop and rap culture.
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    These are styles of music which
    African American communities created
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    in order to affirm our identities
    and our voices.
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    In the early 2000's you saw
    many R&B stars wearing cornrows:
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    Alicia Keys, Beyonce, R. Kelly
    and many more.
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    As hip hop became more and more popular
    and integrated into pop culture,
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    so did Black culture.
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    Eminem's album went four times platinum and he
    achieved immense success in the hip hop world.
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    Black culture had become popular.
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    As the early 2000's turned into 2010's,
    white people began to wear
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    clothing and accessories associated with hip hop,
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    more and more celebrities could be seen
    wearing cornrows and braids and even grills.
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    So by 2013, the fashion world
    had adopted cornrows as well.
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    Cornrows and braids were seen
    on high fashion runways,
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    for brands like Marchesa
    and Alexander McQueen,
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    and magazines had editorial campaigns
    featuring cornrows as a new urban hairstyle.
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    Riff Raff came on to the scene,
    a suburban white middle class man
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    who almost ironically took on a Black-set
    and wore braids and gold teeth.
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    And then James Franco took inspiration from
    Riff Raff for his role as an alien in Spring Breakers.
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    Pop stars and icons adopted Black culture
    as a way of being edgy and gaining attention.
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    In 2013, Miley Cyrus twerks
    and uses Black women as props,
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    and in 2014, in one of her videos called
    This is How We Do,
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    Katy Perry uses ebonics and hand gestures,
    eats watermelons while wearing cornrows
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    before cutting inexplicably
    to a picture of Aretha Franklin.
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    Soooo... as you can see
    cultural appropriation was rampant.
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    Not only were white people becoming rappers
    but they were excelling in the world of hip hop.
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    Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' song Thrift Shop
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    garnered a number one spot
    on Billboard's year end chart for 2013,
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    and then Iggy Azalea's song Fancy
    reached number one the following year.
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    And in May 2014, Forbes released an article titled
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    "Hip Hop's unlikely new star,
    a white blonde Australian woman."
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    But at the same time, police brutality
    against Black people came to the forefront.
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    In an incredible movement
    ignited by the murders of
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    Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice,
    Eric Graner and many others,
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    people began to protest institutionalized racism
    by marching and by using social media.
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    Celebrities spread awareness and
    shared condolences, or at least some did,
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    as Azealia Banks, a Black female rapper,
    pointed out.
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    As Azealia Banks observed in her tweets,
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    white musicians who partook in hip hop culture
    and adopted Blackness
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    -Iggy Azalea in particular-
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    failed to speak on the racism
    that comes along with Black identity.
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    Banks & Azalia feuded on Twitter until Banks
    participated interview on New Yorks Hot 97.
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    [Azealia Amanda Banks] I have a problem
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    when youre trying to like say that it's hip hop,
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    and youre trying to like put it
    like up against black culture.
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    It's like cultural smudging, is what I see.
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    All it says to white kids is like,
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    'Oh yeah, you're great, you're amazing,
    you can do whatever you put your mind to.'
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    And it says to black kids,
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    'You don't have shit, you don't own shit,
    not even shit you've created for yourself.'
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    And it makes me upset."
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    [Amandla Stenberg] That itself is what is so
    complicated when it comes to Black culture.
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    I mean the line between cultural
    appropriation and cultural exchange
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    is always going to be blurred,
    but here is the thing:
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    Appropriation occurs when a style leads
    to racist generalizations or stereotypes
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    where it originated
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    but is deemed as high fashion, cool or funny
    when the privileged take it for themselves.
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    Appropriation occurs when the appropriator
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    is not aware of the deep significance
    of the culture they are partaking in.
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    Hip hop stems from a black struggle,
    it stems from jazz and blues,
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    styles of music which African-Americans created
    to retain humanity in the face of adversity,
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    which itself stems from songs song used
    during slavery to communicate and survive.
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    On a smaller scale but in a similar vein,
    braids and cornrows are not merely stylistic.
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    Theyre necessary in order
    to keep black hair neat.
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    So Ive been seeing this question a lot on
    social media and I think it's really relevant:
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    what would America be like
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    if we loved black people
    as much as we love black culture?
Title:
Amandla Stenberg: Don't Cash Crop On My Cornrows
Description:

The Hunger Game's 16-year-old Amandla Stenberg delivers a crash course on black culture with a fellow classmate for their history class.
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http://www.hypehair.com/46876/amandla-stenberg-addresses-black-hairstyles-discussing-cultural-appropriation/
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Original posted on Amandla's Tumblr » clandesteen.tumblr.com/post/107484511963/dont-cash-crop-my-cornrows-a-crash-discourse-on

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For more on African American hairstyles, tips and maintenance » http://www.hypehair.com

Follow us on Instagram for the latest hairstyle and beauty ideas » https://instagram.com/hypehairmag

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Captions courtesy of the Radical Access Mapping Project, on the Un-ceded Coast Salish Territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples.
To learn more, see: http://radicalaccessiblecommunities.wordpress.com/subtitled-videos/
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Video Language:
English
Duration:
04:30

English subtitles

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