In a video posted on Tumblr, the 16-year-old star, who played Rue in the first instalment of the Hunger Games franchise, said: “In 2013, Miley Cyrus twerks and uses black women as props, and then in 2014, in one of her videos called This Is How We Do, Katy Perry uses Ebonics and hand gestures and eats watermelons while wearing cornrows, before cutting inexplicably to a picture of Aretha Franklin. So as you can see, cultural appropriation was rampant.”
The video Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows, which was recorded for Stenberg’s high-school history class, first appeared back in January but has only now come to wider attention. It includes other examples in which she says “pop stars and icons adopted black culture as a way of being edgy and gaining attention”. These include clips of Kesha wearing cornrows, Madonna with a grill over her teeth and footage from Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off video, which attracted criticism at the time for its appropriation of hip-hop culture.
Stenberg, whose credits also include the 2011 film Colombiana and the Fox television drama Sleepy Hollow, faced a backlash of racist abuse when she landed the Hunger Games role. In her video, she goes on to discuss the case of Eric Garner, who died in July 2014 after a member of the New York police department put him in a chokehold. She asks: “What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?”
This article was written by Guardian music, for theguardian.com on Friday 17th April 2015 15.41 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010