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'Hunger Games' Star Amandla Stenberg: 'Don't Cash Crop My Cornrows'

"Hunger Games" star Amandla Stenberg doesn't hold back when defining cultural appropriation.
Amandla Stenberg appears in Tumblr video, "Don't Cash My Cornrows."
Amandla Stenberg appears in Tumblr video, "Don't Cash My Cornrows."
/ Source: NBC News

Amandla Stenberg stole hearts and gained international recognition for her role as "Rue" in "The Hunger Games," but now the 16-year-old actress is taking on cultural appropriation. A video created by the actress and her classmate three months ago, is now an authoritative history lesson on black culture and cultural relevancy, asking, "What would America be like if we loved black people as much as black culture?"

In a Tumblr post called, "Don't Cash Crop My Corn Rows," Stenberg begins with the subject of hair, diving into examples of black celebrities who made the corn row style popular in the '90s and early 2000s — people like Alicia Keys, Beyonce and R. Kelly. Her thesis boldly states that some white celebrities have adopted aspects of black culture as "a way of being edgy and getting attention."

From twerking to grills, Stenberg points out that pop culture has the tendency to assign white ownership of long ridden styles in fashion, hair and slang that originated in black culture. She specifically references Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Macklemore and Taylor Swift as offenders.

She also gives cultural appropriation a clear and concise definition, acknowledging that the lines that define it can be blurry. "But here’s the thing: 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," Stenberg says on Tumblr. "Appropriation occurs when the appropriator is not aware of the deep significance of the culture that they are partaking in.”

Stenberg also mentions that although certain artists have gained momentum indulging in aspects of black culture, many have remained silent on the recent killings of unarmed black men like Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice.

She references outspoken adversary to cultural appropriation, Azalea Banks who has taken fellow rapper Iggy Azalea to task numerous times on social media. Stenberg's video shows a clip of Banks in an emotional Hot 97 interview where she voices her concern that ownership of hip-hop culture is slipping from black America's grasp.

Stenberg ends her video with a reflection that's been echoed throughout social media: "What would America be like if we loved black people as much as black culture?"