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“Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows”: Amandla Stenberg Takes On Cultural Appropriation

“Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows”: Amandla Stenberg Takes On Cultural Appropriation

Words: Ashley Poag

The Hunger Games star brings awareness to the wide-ranging effect of cultural appropriation on Tumblr.

Another young and talented voice is speaking up about race in America—and we couldn’t be prouder.

Sixteen-year-old actress Amandla Stenberg posed a somber and thought-provoking question through a class project posted on Tumblr: “What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?”

Along with her classmates, the actress best known for her role as Rue in The Hunger Games, created a video titled “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows,” the Huffington Post reports. The video breaks down black cultural appropriation and gives a long list of examples of celebrities who've participated, calling out Miley Cyrus' twerking and a cornrowed Katy Perry speaking Ebonics while eating watermelons in her "This Is How We Do" video.

Stenberg gives a brief history and much-needed culture lesson on how white people casually misappropriate black culture, and makes the connection between this careless act and the plague of racist stereotypes and police brutality against black people, which has led to the emergence of the Black Lives Matter Movement.

"The line between cultural appropriation and cultural exchange will always be blurred, but here's the thing," she says. "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."

We’re not surprised Stenberg is so incredibly insightful to race relations in this country. In 2012, some fans of The Hunger Games were outraged when an African-American was selected to play the role of Rue. Though the book describes Rue as dark skinned, trolls took to social media and launched an assault of racist comments at Stenberg, her fellow actors of color, and the producers of the movie. The young actress didn’t stoop to their level but instead expressed gratitude and thanked her supporters.

"As a fan of the books, I feel fortunate to be part of The Hunger Games family. It was an amazing experience; I am proud of the film and my performance. I want to thank all of my fans and the entire Hunger Games community for their support and loyalty."

Talented and intelligent, we’re sure we’ll be hearing more from Stenberg in the future.

Watch the video “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows” below and tell us what you think in the comments.

Ashley Poag is mater mea's intern and an aspiring multimedia journalist.