All Articles Tagged "Amandla Stenberg"

Some Of Y’all Aren’t Ready For Freethinking Black Kids, But They’re Coming Anyway

July 21st, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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free thinking black kids

Source: WENN

Earlier today, I read a story that actress and activist extraordinaire Amandla Stenberg was taking a break from Tumblr because she had been attacked for raising a question/critique of the promotion for the Minions movie.

Basically, Stenberg tweeted,

It was a valid question. But certainly one that ruffled more than a few feathers. People started asking her how much money was used to promote the Hunger Games, how many people she’d paid to go to college, you know, as a sixteen year old.

She didn’t say she’d never participated in a Blockbuster film. She didn’t even say that she approved of the way the one she starred in was promoted. What she did was make a statement about priorities in this country. And it’s an astute observation. Where America once had the reputation, internationally, as the land of the best and the brightest. Now, we’re the entertainment capital of the world. I have nothing against entertainment and I actually think the Minions are pretty cute; but, no they aren’t more important than the people of this nation, so yes, the question is valid.

It’s really a shame people can’t see that.

I read that article and thought I hope Amandla hasn’t been discouraged. I hope she continues to speak the truth.

Luckily, Amandla broke her hiatus to say that she had not been run off of Tumblr.

Glad to hear, she hasn’t been dissuaded from expressing her opinion. She’ll have to remain strong though because this is just the type of thing people like to do to young, people with “alternative” (read: status quo challenging) world views.

The backlash is even stronger when those young people are Black.

I was absolutely shocked to find fully, grown Black women telling Amandla she needed to sit down, jumping to the defense of Kylie Jenner, when Stenberg was attempting to have a discussion about cultural appropriation. Kylie can make money off our people but when someone, one of our own, brings that fact to her attention, it’s a problem?

I’m still confused by that.

Looks like some people have been drinking that Kardashian Koolaid. Don’t be surprised if that particular flavor eventually makes it to the shelves. It’ll taste like vulnerable Black men. And instead of quench, it’ll quicken your thirst for fame.

But that’s not what we’re here for. This article is not about Amandla specifically or even the Kardashian family.

Instead, I want to discuss, our, the Black community’s response to young, free-thinking, Black people.

Last year, like with Amandla, I was discouraged to see most of the internet ready to dismiss Willow and Jaden as strange and pretentious just for expressing some ideals that I found not only refreshing but pretty advanced for people of their age. People scoffed at them, the children, and questioned Will and Jada’s parenting…again.

You may remember in the interview with T Magazine, the brother and sister talked about school being inauthentic because learning never ends and people took it as an attack on education and called them stupid. I saw and heard several claim that the two had abandoned their own education, as if their comments were proof of that.

Y’all do know there are very real problems with our education system, right? Even rapper J Cole, who did exceptionally well in school, graduating magna cum laude, said that our educational system is largely centered around tests and memorization as opposed to actual comprehension and understanding of principles.

That’s true. I know I’m not the only person who did well in school but can remember very little of those lessons today.

In that same interview, Willow talked about self doubt saying she’s gotten better because she cares less about not only what other people think “but also caring less about what your own mind thinks, because what our own mind thinks, sometimes, is the thing that makes you sad.”

Then Jaden cosigned talking about the duality of our mind.

People found that strange as well.

But, let me ask you something, have you ever decided to do something, and the minute you’re ready to get started, take action, your own mind, not the people from the outside, your own brain, starts convincing you of ways it won’t work?

It literally happens all the time, particularly with risky, challenging decisions and activities.

Fear is a strong force. But it exists in our own minds.

To get anything worthwhile accomplished in this world, you have to ignore that energy or do it, in spite of fear.

Countless authors have written best selling books about this very concept. (See: Fight Your Fear and Win or The Secret) but when Willow and Jaden say it, with their funky fashion and ever-changing hair styles, it’s just weird and worthy of dismissal.

A large part of me wonders if the people who seem to be so bothered by the likes of Amandla, Willow and Jaden are consciously or subconsciously envious of people so young, and yet so woke to the ways of the world?

Perhaps we can only stomach stereotypical teenagers who act aloof and disengaged, choosing to follow their peers or their favorite celebrity instead of think for themselves. Maybe those kids make us feel better about ourselves in the fictitious enlightenment of adulthood.

I’m 10 years older than Jaden, 11 years older than Amandla and 13 years older than Willow and I look at the freedom with which they choose, and have been allowed, to live their lives and I admire that. I want that for all the adults who’ve been stifled in their own lives. And it’s certainly something I want to give to my own future children: the gift to defy conviction, speak truth, express yourself and your beliefs, and be strong enough not to be dissuaded by anyone else’s disagreeance.

Shut Up, Andy: 9 Times Andy Cohen Was An A-Hole

July 21st, 2015 - By M A
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Photo: Ivan Nikolov/

Photo: Ivan Nikolov/

There is no denying that Andy Cohen is one of reality television’s most successful figures. Not only is he behind such guilty pleasures as The Real Housewives franchise and Watch What Happens: Live, but he has also managed to gain notoriety in front of the camera. But the press swirling around Cohen hasn’t always been positive. Actually, who are we kidding? There is about a 65 percent chance that every time Cohen opens his mouth, something offensive and just plain d**kish will come flying out. So in honor of his inability to play nice, we take a look back at some of Andy Cohen’s most obnoxious moments.

Laverne Cox Addresses Critics After Failing To Defend Amandla Stenberg On “WWHL”

July 16th, 2015 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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After being criticized earlier this week for sitting by, along with Andre Talley Leon, as “Watch What Happens Live” host Andy Cohen called teen actress Amandla Stenberg a “jackhole,” Laverne Cox has come forward to defend herself. As you may recall, Cohen slammed Stenberg for calling out Kylie Jenner for appropriating Black culture. In the event that you missed the show, the conversation went a little something like this:

Cohen: Today’s Jackhole goes to the Instagram feud between Kylie Jenner and Hunger Games star/Jaden Smith’s prom date Amandla Stenberg, who criticized Kylie for her cornrows, calling it cultural appropriation. White girls in cornrows… is it OK or nay, Laverne and Andre?

Leon: To me, it’s fine.

Cox: Umm … Bo Derek.

In a blog post published on her official Tumblr page, the “Orange Is The New Black” actress explains why she did not defend Stenberg against Cohen’s comments. According to Cox, she wasn’t aware of who Stenberg was at the time the show was taped. She also reasoned that she did not feel there was enough time to address the actual issue at hand properly.

When in answer to Andy Cohen’s question on “Watch What Happens Live” on July 12, “White girls and cornrows, yay or nay? “I said what I said in an attempt to not get involved in what I understood at the time to be an Instagram feud between someone with whom I was not familiar and Kylie Jenner on the topic of cultural appropriation. I have never been interested in getting involved in any celebrity feuds.

In that moment, I also felt that the topic of cultural appropriation needs way more than the 10 seconds or less I had to respond at the end of the show to fully unpack. I said as much to Andre Leon Tally after the cameras stopped rolling. So on camera with seconds left in a live broadcast I said, “Bo Derek” the first iconic example of a white woman wearing cornrows I could think of. To be clear I understood when I said, “Bo Derek” that her rocking of cornrows with beads in the 1979 film “10” and that look on her subsequently becoming a cultural phenomenon when the black folks who had been rocking cornrows for decades before her had not similarly become a sensation is an example of the ways in which what bell hooks calls imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist patriarchal systems privilege certain bodies’ performances of cultural traditions over others. This is when cultural appropriation can tend to erase the marginalized people from whom the culture emerges.

Many are taking me to task for not defending Amandla Stenberg who I now know is a 16-year-old black actress known for her work in the “Hunger Games” who has spoken out quite eloquently on the topic of cultural appropriation. In researching Amandla’s work and words, I was very impressed with a video I saw from her on cultural appropriation where she chronicled a recent history of cultural appropriation and black hair specifically.

Cohen has since apologized on Twitter to Stenberg for his comments.

To clarify, I gave the jackhole to an online feud & certainly not to the topic or to any individual. I ironically hate online feuds.

I want to apologize to Amandla. I didn’t understand the larger context of this cultural discussion and TRULY meant no disrespect to her or anyone else.

You can check out Cox’s full essay here. Thoughts?

Follow Jazmine on Twitter @JazmineDenise

Kylie Jenner Is Misguided, Not Racist

July 15th, 2015 - By Alexandra Olivier
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I woke up like disss

A photo posted by King Kylie (@kyliejenner) on

“Everybody wanna be a ni**a, but nobody wanna be a ni**ga.”

Paul Mooney hit the nail on the head. Sadly, when African-Americans create and embrace trends, whether it be in music, fashion, beauty or simply in the way we talk, credit and attention to it isn’t given until a White person jumps on the bandwagon. While we champion ourselves and pioneers, until Miley Cyrus brought twerking to the mainstream stage, how many people were celebrating the art of shaking and popping all that rests on our rear ends?

Black culture has been ripped off for as long as clocks have chimed at noon. But with the help of social media and YouTube, Black folks are not taking it anymore. We are more apt to point it out whether through the use of a hashtag gone viral or through a dissertation on a comment underneath someone’s Instagram picture.

So naturally, when Amandla Stenberg and all her perfection calmly schooled Kylie Jenner on cultural appropriation, I applauded the young actress like most of my peers. Her previous work on how hair ties into cultural appropriation made her the perfect candidate to deliver this lesson.

But after looking at Jenner’s photo and caption, and the very vocal reaction to it after the fact, I will say that my cheers dropped a few decibels.

I honestly do not view her photo as a villainous attempt at cultural appropriation. Nor do I think she deserves to be labeled a racist, as some have tried to call her. Where she is at fault is unfortunately being under a constant microscope as someone who grew up under the ever-watchful eye of cameras thanks to her TV family.

Kylie Jenner is a heavily misguided 17-year-old girl whose interests, thanks to those around her, rest more in vanity than race relations. But then again, what did we really expect from the teen? And do we really want to hear her opinion on such serious issues? Would you even take her stance seriously if she tried to give her honest opinion?

I didn’t think so. But back to the picture.

In the image, Jenner is seen wearing cornrows that she initially hid under a bright blue wig. There is no doubt that the teen is clueless as far as the history of the style, but so are most of us when it comes to our own cultural nuances. Still, the picture, the pose, and the caption were pretty standard for a 17-year-old. And yet, it the image brought Jenner a great deal of backlash. A resentment she could only respond to by saying to Stenberg, “Mad if I do, Mad if I don’t … Go hang w Jaden or something.”

*Enter deep sigh here*

Will Stenberg’s comment encourage Jenner to head to Google and do some hair research? Maybe read a thing or two about cultural appropriation and the way the bodies of Black women are viewed? No. I’d bet my savings it won’t. And if the tables were turned, such criticism probably wouldn’t motivate me to do so either. But instead of attacking Jenner and trying to force the cultural appropriation argument down her throat, what we should celebrate is Stenberg, who is undoubtedly wise beyond her teenage years. To be so knowledgeable about such major issues at 16, and not afraid to use her platform to discuss them is an admirable thing. She is starting a conversation that is needed from a youthful perspective, and aims to include other young influencers.

Unfortunately, she tried to include the wrong person and in the wrong place. Despite the influence Kylie Jenner already has, like her sisters, many only expect her to make headlines due to who her parents let her date, what her lips and body look like, and what she does with her hair, rather than to do so due to her stance on a worthy cause or issue. And if you ask me, based on what she’s grown up around and seen most of her young life, that’s not entirely her fault.

Yes, Andy Cohen Messed Up…And So Did Laverne Cox And Andre Leon Talley

July 14th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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andy cohen

Source: Bravo

Andy Cohen effed up on Sunday evening during an episode of “Watch What Happens Live.” But he wasn’t the only one. Sadly, two of our own, Laverne Cox and Andre Leon Talley, joined him.

Cohen, who is essentially the face of Bravo, stirred the ire of Black Twitter and Twitter account-less Black people by naming the feud between Amandla Stenberg and Kylie Jenner “Jackhole of the Day.”

And though we’re generally not here for social media beef, the exchange Stenberg and Jenner was far from a feud.

Amandla told the truth and Kylie responded by deflecting and name dropping.

In case you missed the discussion, over the weekend, we reported that Stenberg commented on a picture of Kylie Jenner wearing cornrows, saying:

“When u appropriate black features and culture but fail to use ur position of power to help black Americans by directing attention towards ur wigs instead of police brutality or racism #whitegirlsdoitbetter.”

I see no lies.

Kylie responded:

“Mad if I don’t, Mad if I do…. Go hang w Jaden or something”

It’s no secret that the Kardashians have made a name for themselves and built an empire off the names of Black men and the features of Black women. (I’ll be sure to provide an in depth list later.)

But Andy Cohen did not appreciate the exchange.

Today’s Jackhole goes to the Instagram feud between Kylie Jenner and Hunger Games star/Jaden Smith’s prom date Amandla Stenberg who criticized Kylie for her cornrows, calling it cultural appropriation. White girls in cornrows… is it OK or nay, Laverne and Andre?” 

Well, Black folk aren’t happy about this. And many, specifically on Twitter, have been calling for a boycott of the Bravo network.

In defense against claims that he called Stenberg herself a jackhole, Cohen tweeted:

I get that he might not have been trying to attack Stenberg personally and was instead labeling this so-called feud jackhol-ish. But, first, this was not a feud. And second, failing to address the issue of cultural appropriation is problematic; particularly, as one Twitter user noted, for a White man who makes good money off of Black women’s culture, stories, style and dysfunction.

Why when a Black women brings up a topic of discussion is it immediately labeled as aggressive? Why didn’t Andy see this for what it was, Amandla attempting, through social media, to educate Kylie about her privilege? We can argue about the medium she chose all day long but her words were not aggressive.

Furthermore, insult was added to injury when Cohen’s two Black panelists of the evening Laverne Cox and Andre Leon Talley joined in on the discussion. Both have been activists in their own realms. Talley has spoken consistently about racism in the fashion industry and Cox is nothing short of an activist for Trans rights, specifically highlighting the injustices trans women of color face.

So, it is deeply disappointing that neither one of these people used this moment, this platform to not only stand with Amandla but also on the side of truth.

When Cohen asked Cox and Talley if there was something wrong with White women wearing cornrows, Talley said they were “fine” and  Cox said, “Umm…Bo Derek.”


That’s exactly the issue.

Black women had been wearing cornrows for years, centuries even. Suddenly, Bo Derek dons them and it’s all the rage. And Bo Derek, a White woman is often credited for making the style hot.

Y’all may think this discussion about Bo Derek and Kylie Jenner’s hair is trivial. But it’s bigger than this hairstyle.

For far too long White people have not only been taking credit for our brilliance they’ve been profiting off of it, at the expense of Black people, the people who created it. It is a devastating, crushing feeling to be ignored or dismissed and then later see that your contributions are being appreciated and applauded when it is being packaged and delivered through White skin.

And it further perpetuates the myth of Black inferiority.

I’m not surprised Andy Cohen didn’t see that. But Laverne and Andre Leon Talley should have known better.

‘Rue’ Gets Real With Kylie Jenner and Her Cornrows

July 12th, 2015 - By Toya Sharee
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amandla stenberg schools kylie jenner on cultural appropriation


Amandla Stenberg, the actress who played “Rue” in “The Hunger Games” is not here for Kylie Jenner’s cultural appropriation and didn’t hesitate to let the reality star know it.

Jenner who’s been making headlines for her relationship with rapper, Tyga, recently took to Instagram, posting a selfie rocking cornrows with the caption, “I woke up like disss,” with a link to her new wig line. Stenberg was quick to let her know that if she going to use black culture to her advantage, she could at least do it for a good cause. She commented:

“When u appropriate black features and culture but fail to use ur position of power to help black Americans by directing attention towards ur wigs instead of police brutality or racism #whitegirlsdoitbetter.”

Kylie Jenner responded with a short, but shady response bringing actor Jaden Smith into the mix:

“Mad if I don’t, Mad if I do…. Go hang w Jaden or something”

Smith was good friends with Jenner in the past and recently escorted Stenberg to prom.

Jenner might want to fall back for a bit. Between rumors of Tyga cheating on her, and the relationship being constantly scrutinized for their age difference, beef with Stenberg is only going to add to her bad press. She is quickly being known more for the drama surrounding her than modeling, acting, partying or whatever she gets paid to do professionally. She may not want it with Stenberg who is already making a name for articulately speaking about race relations and injustice in America with a passion and vigilance that proves she is wise beyond her years.

Do you think Stenberg is being too hard on Kylie or did she really just what we’ve all been thinking?


“Don’t Denounce Our Pain As Savage” Actress Amandla Stenberg Speaks On The Baltimore Uprising

May 1st, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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amandla stenberg

Source: WENN

Though most of the media and your ignorant Facebook friends are reporting and reacting to the news of the Baltimore Uprising with little to no compassion or desire to understand, actress Amandla Stenberg, has issued one of the realest responses we’ve heard from celebrities. (Though Russell Simmons did have a pretty good one, referencing the problematic nature of people referencing Black on Black crime.) Many of you may remember Stenberg as Rue from The Hunger Games franchise. With wisdom that we don’t frequently associate with 16-year-olds, we wish a few more people were speaking out with as much truth.

Here’s what Amandla said, on Twitter.

If you’ve seen The Hunger Games, it’s about an oppressive government who, for sport, allows teenagers from thirteen districts to kill each other or be killed. Those who have not seen the movie and plan on it, you might want to check out here as there are some spoilers coming up.

There are obvious similarities between what’s going on in The Hunger Games, which millions of Americans, of all races, watch and enjoy. One fan wrote about them and Stenberg reblogged the comment on her Tumblr.

amandla stenberg

Source: Tumblr

Same stuff. Art imitating life. But for some reason when the protest is being used as a method of entertainment, people are much more sympathetic. Priorities all of out whack.

Either way, I appreciate Stenberg for living up to her name and speaking out about the pain and injustice that caused the uprising. There have been far too many others, even those in positions of extreme power, who have refused.

The Hunger Games Fans: How Dare You Trick Us Into Caring About a Little Black Girl?

March 26th, 2012 - By Brande Victorian
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Source: Screen Rant

I don’t have to know anything about the Hunger Games to know that it’s leaving its mark on American culture in some huge ways. This weekend, the movie made the third highest-grossing debut in North American box office history raking in $155 million. It’s also exposed something we knew was true about black men, women, and children in real-life but apparently also carries over into fictional cinema—we cannot be innocent, good, or cared about instinctively.

I know nothing about Suzanne Collins’ novel except for the fact that the book has cultivated a Twilight-Harry Potter-cultish-like following of which my little cousin is a part of. As is expected with diehard fans, there are going to be indiscrepancies between the way they visualized things in the book and how they are portrayed on film, but I don’t think anyone expected so much outrage over the character of Rue, played by Amandla Stenberg, a biracial black girl.

Call me crazy, but if I’d read page 45 of the novel and saw this sole description of Rue, Amandla is exactly who I would have expected to see on screen:

“…And most hauntingly, a twelve-year-old girl from District 11. She has dark brown skin and eyes, but other than that’s she’s very like Prim in size and demeanor…”

Apparently for “Hunger Games” readers, dark brown is like the “I’m the same color as you” comments I get from white people during the summer when they come back from an island vacation and think we’re skin twins. They thought Rue would be a dark-skinned white person, and to say they were disappointed that Rue was played by a black girl would be an understatement. The Tumblr Hunger Game Tweets, set up to expose people who talk a bunch of ish but aren’t really fans of the book, as evidenced by their lack of knowledge, caught a startling number of angry responses to Amandla’s character that weren’t just about being shocked that she was black, but more so her blackness changing their entire opinion of the character and the movie. Tweets ranged from:

“Why does Rue have to be black not gonna lie kinda ruined the movie” to

“I was pumped about the Hunger Games. Until I learned a black girl was playing Rue” to

“Kk call me racist but when I found out Rue was black her death wasn’t as sad. #Ihatemyself” to

“Sense when has rue been a n***er” I don’t even have time to go into all that is wrong with that statement.

The viewers weren’t too thrilled about Lenny Kravitz playing Cinna either, although since his dark skin wasn’t mentioned in the book, they weren’t totally blindsided into liking a black person. As for another character named Thresh, there apparently was no clue he’d be black either, despite this description: “The boy tribute from District 11, Thresh, has the same dark skin as Rue, but the resemblance stops there. He’s one of the giants, probably six and half feet tall and built like an ox.”

Another tweeter sent this reaction on the collective inclusion of black characters:

“Cinna and Rue weren’t supposed to be black. Why did the producers make all the good characters black smh”

The most ironic twist in all this discussion is when it comes to the lead character Katniss no one has said a word. That’s most likely because the producers cast a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl by the name of Jennifer Lawrence as a character that was described in the book as having olive skin and straight black hair. To their credit, they did manage to dye her hair dark— it all sort of reminds me of Elizabeth Taylor and Angelina Jolie playing Cleopatra. The lack of outrage over that change proves this argument is not about incongruences, it’s about the inability for black people to be seen as anything but villains in real life and in cinema.

What’s worse is we talk day in and day out about how we need to change the images on the screen. We need more positive images of black people, we need to be seen in leading roles, but will it make a difference? If we’re talking about black films the people who need to see these images likely won’t even bother to watch the movies. And in this case we see that having positive images didn’t challenge any of the viewers internalized ideals about black people, it simply made them view the portrayals as unrealistic, even making them angry that they had somehow been tricked to care about a little black girl when they didn’t think she was a little black girl. If we can’t soften the youth when it comes to stereotypes and prejudices about black people through an entertainment medium of all things, what can we possibly do that will make a difference?

Since buzzfeed and other sites have run stories about these fans’ racist reactions to the film, Hunger Games Tweets has proudly reported that the number of tweets about Rue and Thresh being black has greatly reduced, but I wouldn’t count that as a victory just yet. I’m willing to bet those people have only stopped commenting because they don’t want to see their twitter accounts blasted across the Internet. No one has had a sudden change of heart about the audacity of movie producers invoking sympathy for a black character. Of course, the fans’ reactions aren’t totally startling considering all that’s going on around us in black America today, but to say they’re disturbing, yet sadly, somewhat expected, would be an understatement.

Are you familiar with The Hunger Games at all? Do you think having more positive images of black characters in films is really the answer in situations like this?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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