Amandla Stenberg: What if We Loved Black People as Much as Black Culture

We’ve written a lot about cultural appropriation on this website and usually the conversation that follows doesn’t go so well. “Are we not allowed to appreciate other cultures?,” people ask. (Answer: Of course you are.) “If it were up to you, there’s be no cultural exchange at all,” some accuse. No, that’s not what anyone wants, but if you’re still confused, why not let 16-year-old Amandla Stenberg—who played Rue in The Hunger Games—explain it to you?


Stenberg, alongside classmate Quinn Masterson, created the video Don’t Cash Crop on My Cornrows for her high school history class and later released it on her Tumblr. In it, she presents a truncated history of cultural appropriation with the majority of her focus on black hair and the rap-to-pop crossover of the past 20 years. Stenberg discusses pop acts like Macklemore, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Iggy Azalea—all white artists who’ve profited from black culture as the actual treatment of black people worsens (or at least becomes more public).

She concludes, “What would America be like if it loved black people as much as it loves black culture?”

And this, my friends, is better than any class project I made throughout all of high school... and college.

[ clandesteen]

Illustration for article titled Amandla Stenberg: What if We Loved Black People as Much as Black Culture

The drama between Sofia Vergara and former fiancé Nick Loeb over their stored frozen embryos continues. Loeb alleges “Vergara demanded her ‘44-year-old friend and employee’ serve as surrogate over ‘[Loeb]’s objections as well as the recommendations of the parties’ doctor,’” reports Page Six. Says a source (Loeb wearing a wig and talking in a high-pitched voice), “Sofía insisted on it. She said the assistant was the only person she could trust.” [Page Six]


Aw, so nice of Michael Bublé to put a photo of a stranger’s butt on Instagram! “There was something about this photo lu took, that seemed worthy of Instagram #myhumps #babygotback #hungryshorts#onlyinmiami #picoftheday #beautifulbum,” he wrote, again proving what a cool guy and class act he is.

Didn’t know it was possible to appear like a smarmier Robin Thicke, but there you have it. Anyway, the woman looks great and Bublé is a 39-year-old man shopping at Urban Outfitters, so it’s pretty clear who’s coming out ahead here. [People]


  • TMZ reports that Kim Richards, who was arrested yesterday for battery and public intoxication, was driven to drink after watching the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reunion special. (Same.) [TMZ]
  • Kanye West got served at LAX as if airports weren’t already stressful enough. [Gossip Cop]
  • Giuliana Rancic to Kelly Osbourne: You’re Dead to Me!” [THG]
  • If there’s one compliment we can sincerely give Chris Brown, it’s that he made a very cute kid. [US Weekly]
  • Christopher Nolan originally wanted to cast Josh Hartnett in Batman and Hartnett said no. [Just Jared]
  • “I would give myself a C-,” says Gwyneth Paltrow on her failed attempt at the NYC Food Bank Challenge. [LA Times]
  • Gigi Hadid’s boyfriend Cody Simpson posted (then deleted) a photo of some joints. Did not share. [TMZ]
  • 17-year-old Kylie Jenner wants kids in 10 years. [OK!]
  • PETA’s mad at Pippa Middleton. [Gossip Cop]
  • It’s a boy for Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher! [TMZ]
  • “I approve of whatever makes my brother happy,” says Katherine Schwarzenegger about her brother Patrick Schwarzenegger’s relationship with Miley Cyrus. Note: “I approve of whatever makes my brother happy” is a whole lot different than saying “I like my brother’s girlfriend.” [E! Online]

Photos via AP, Instagram.


Yoga Nerd, Maybe Dead

Somewhat related, I’m part of a group online of kimono enthusiasts. It includes those of us who appreciate traditional japanese art and culture (such as myself), fabric and textile designers (how I became interested in the first place), cosplayers.... its a pretty diverse group. And pretty intensely nerdy. Every once in awhile, a debate comes up about appropriation. Kimono are best appreciated when worn, and worn correctly and appropriately, which requires practice, attention to detail, and countless accessories, so its hard for many of us who are non-Japanese to keep ourselves from wearing our wafuku (traditional Japanese attire), regardless of the strange looks we might get. But there are some who find this to be a form of appropriation. I welcome criticism and think its something that should be part of an ongoing dialogue, acknowledging that through our appreciation, we cannot totally avoid appropriation. The best we can do is be respectful by wearing these garments as appropriately as we can, understanding how to do things properly. Our group doesn’t like to talk about it though. I find they’d rather pretend they are immune from criticism - “I like what I like and you can’t tell me not to” seems to be the prevailing sentiment. That and “Japanese people, especially older Japanese, are always so excited and appreciative when they see me wearing wafuku!” (And I’m like, yeah, that’s Japanese people. They get a kick out of you merely being able to hold a pair of chopsticks - it would be culturally aberrant for someone to directly and publicly reproach you, and in fact, excessive compliments are many times a form of Japanese shade) I don’t know how to convince them that criticism is HEALTHY. Le sigh.