Do our faves get a pass when they cross the line and culturally appropriate African fashion and beauty?
Sure, we adore Adele’s music and appreciate witnessing her legacy in the making; after all, she praised Beyonce at the 2017 GRAMMYs and won our hearts all over again after expressing all of our confusion at her own win for Album of the Year over the Queen.
“You are our light, and the way that you make me and my friends feel, the way you make my black friends feel, is empowering,” she said in her famous speech. “And, you make them stand up for themselves and I love you.”
Still — if you ask me, the answer is a hard ‘NO!’
Adele took to Instagram yesterday to post a photo of herself celebrating London’s Carnival (canceled due to COVID-19) with Bantu Knots and a Jamaican flag-donning bikini top. Yes, really.
Her caption, which reads, “Happy what would be Notting Hill Carnival my beloved London ????,” drew a large crowd of bewildered but supportive onlookers, nearly breaking the internet with 5 million likes and counting. The image, which incited a fiery comment section discussion varying from prideful to puzzled, had many Black/POC fans scratching their heads at all the problematic cues. The conversation led itself to the ongoing question:
Is this a matter of blatant cultural appropriation or innocent (but ignorant) appreciation?
In my opinion, this is a matter of the former. White women are part of the longstanding dilemma of European colonizers seeing something they like, exploiting it, giving it a new name, and attempting to erase its origin altogether. Posting a photo sporting a traditional African hairstyle spread across 300 to 600 ethnic groups and dates back to over 100 years ago, is just as violent and irresponsible as her ancestor Christopher Columbus and countless others who invaded native lands, stole resources, engaged in mass genocide of indigenous peoples, and exploited said land and resources for profit. Bantu Knots are not a trend. The Jamaican flag on a European woman’s bikini top is not a fashion statement. Fan or not, a white person wearing something that does not reflect their actual bloodline in 2020 is not OK, nor will it ever be.