All Articles Tagged "Amandla Stenberg"
Yesterday Teen Vogue had Black girls experiencing all sorts of feel-good emotions when they debuted a series of covers featuring one of the most outspoken up-and-coming feminists of our time, Amandla Stenberg. The icing on the cake was the 17-year-old was interviewed by another creative that ranks high on almost every unapologetic Black woman’s list, Solange Knowles.
Last night, the gift of this #BlackGirlMagic just kept on giving when Amandla took over Teen Vogue’s snapchat doing what most teen girls do, eat breakfast, hang with friends, and be cool. But the young starlet also took the time to send an important message to the LGBTQ and African American community, saying:
“It’s a really really hard thing to be silenced and it’s deeply bruising to fight against your identity and to mold yourself into shapes that you just shouldn’t be in. As someone who identifies as a black, bisexual woman I’ve been through it, and it hurts, and it’s awkward and it’s uncomfortable…but then I realized because of Solange and Ava DuVernay and Willow and all the black girls watching this right now, that there’s absolutely nothing to change.
We cannot be suppressed. We are meant to express our joy and our love and our tears and be big and bold and definitely not easy to swallow…Here I am being myself and it’s definitely hard and vulnerable and it’s definitely a process but I’m learning and I’m growing.”
We have to say this young lady is doing a pretty great job balancing her identity as a triple minority, particularly in the public eye.
In addition to her Teen Vogue cover and snapchat, Amandla also participated in a series on why Black is beautiful and powerful. Catch the episode below.
If the #blackgirlmagic hashtag is fitting for celebrating the power of melanin, the time is now!
This year, Zendaya Coleman, Malia Obama and Amandla Stenberg make up just a few of the wonderful rising teens who made it to TIME Magazine’s annual 30 Most Influential Teens. In addition, Jaden Smith, “Watch Me Whip/Nae Nae” sensation Silentó, an assortment of actors and actresses, and even Nobel Peace prize winners were included on the prestigious list. But this trio of gals in particular are giving us life!
19-year-old Nickelodeon star Zendaya made the cut just by one year, but her significance in the entertainment industry has been plenty. From being known as fashion’s “it” gal to confidently taking on Giuliana Rancic’s “patchouli and weed” comments to calling out magazine’s for photo shopping, Ms. Coleman has managed to grow up in the public eye and still remain a role model for her younger fans. “I keep it real,” the actress and singer told TIME. “I do what Zendaya does. I do what Zendaya feels like doing.”
Amandla Stenberg, who we’ve gotten to know through her role as Rue in Hunger Games has emerged as a powerful and uplifting voice for young black women. And who could forget when the 17-year-old made headlines on nearly every website when she called out Kylie Jenner for cultural appropriation.
Dubbed as a “cultural icon,” Malia Obama caught the eye of TIME editors for both her burgeoning status and prominence. Not to mention, when paparazzi caught the soon-to-be college student rocking one of Joey Bada$$’s Pro Era t-shirt’s the internet and kids alike went crazy. Although her father is Barack Obama, Malia is just like any other teenager interning and grabbing coffee for higher ups.
Congratulations to all three of these young black women!
Proud, beautiful, smart and vocal teen star Amandla Stenberg teen tells ESSENCE that her outspokenness can be credited to the way she was raised.
“My mom is a really powerful artist, creator and writer and a really smart Black woman, so she has always set an example for me and taught me how to express myself through words and other mediums. I feel like when I was younger—even though I may not have been conscious [of it]—I fought my hair and I fought who I was…to try to conform, or shy away from my Blackness. Now that I’m growing older, I find that my source of power comes from my identity and ethnicity.”
The 16-year-old also realizes that her powerful opinions are often misunderstood, followed by backlash, and there’s a deeper meaning behind that as well.
“I noticed that whenever I was trying to talk about social justice and how Black women are framed in the media, quite ironically, I would be framed in a certain way that would demonize me and take away the value of my point. That’s a tool that is used repeatedly in the media: Whenever Black women have a point, they’re characterized as Angry Black Women, and therefore the thing they’re talking about is no longer of importance because they have to deal with them being overly emotional or something. I recognize that people who respond negatively to what I have to say aren’t at a place yet where they are able to learn. And I know that that’s not personal. That’s unfortunately a product of society as a whole. And it’s exactly what I’m trying to fight.”
Regardless of the criticism, Amandla vows to continue to be an inspiration.
“My larger goal is to affect and empower more Black girls, because I know how important it has been to me to see representations of myself out there through role models like Ava DuVernay and Laverne Cox and FKA twigs—artists who are inspiring and creative and carefree. Even though the response to what I’ve talked about isn’t always necessarily positive, I’ve thought to myself, Wow, it’s so incredible that we are even having those conversations and that that was my doing. I felt so honored and proud that I could even bring these important things to the forefront. ”
Check out Amandla Stenberg’s full interview in the October issue of ESSENCE magazine available on newsstands nationwide.
Take a scroll through images on Instagram and Tumblr with the hashtag #ArtHoe (or #ArtHo) and you will be inundated with beautiful images of Black boys and girls juxtaposed in art. On Instagram alone over 9,000 photos appear in the search. So, what exactly is an #ArtHoe? The online movement is a collection of Black artists creating visual images to celebrate people of color and their complex identities.
The movement hopes to encourage more people of color (POC) to join the visual art scene and creates an online community for minority artists across the globe. The movement’s 15-year-old founder. Mars, is turning what is often considered negative into a portrait of beauty.
“‘Hoe’ is AAVE (African American Vernacular English) and is normally a derogatory way to refer to women – especially black women – as being promiscuous, within the male gaze. Using the term in an arbitrary way diminishes its harmful origin in light of something better,” the teen artist told The Guardian on the controversial name.
Controversial or not, Mars has some pretty iconic young Black stars attached to the movement. Hunger Games’s Amandla Stenberg has decorated her Instagram page in many #ArtHo images.
The young thought leader, Willow Smith, has also attached herself to the influx of art. Whether celebrity or not, minorities across the U.S. and abroad are turning their selfies into art with doodles or stamps and creating a safe haven for their voice and images alike.
“(Art Ho) gives POC a platform to express their internalised struggles, which is a problem we face everyday. We don’t have a voice in this society. It’s usually subdued by our white counterparts, and our anger is taken for granted – having this movement gives people an insight into who we really are,” Mars told Dazed magazine.
Check out some of the creatively inspiring images below and get with the #Arthoe movement.
Are you here for this?
I’ve told you all that I’m an admirer of Amandla Stenberg. Not only is she talented, (shout to the Hunger Games franchise), beautiful and stylish, she’s also down for the cause. And in a world where far too many people, particularly celebrities, are scared to take a stance on political issues, I find her brave and refreshing.
Elle Magazine and Dazed Magazine recently caught up with the actress/activist and she spoke about everything from her sense of style, embracing her natural hair and all things Black. We dig this little girl. Check out a few of the highlights from both interviews in the excerpts below.
On learning to embrace her natural hair and it being a part of the Black experience
When I was younger, I struggled with my hair a lot because it was too hard to deal with- it was too poofy, it was too big, and I just wanted it to go down flat against my head. I put treatments in my hair to make it look straight, and in the past year, I realized that that’s so not necessary. I really love my natural hair texture and my curls so I went totally natural and had to do the big chop…and the curls sprung back to life. And all of a sudden, it gave me so much more confidence. I’m so much more comfortable with my hair, my body and everything. So hair is super central to how I express myself because it’s just kind of a part of the Black experience: Doing your hair is always an event. I really love my hair, I really embrace it, and I’m so glad that I made the decision to wear it natural.
Her desire to write and direct
Yeah, so I’ve directed a few shorts and I’m in the process of applying to film school right now. I really want to go to NYU Tisch. It’s so important to create roles and characters and projects that feature Black people in a way that’s not specifically targeted towards the niche market, which is, like, a Black movie is created and it’s produced and pitched so that only Black people will watch it. And I feel like, I want to see dynamic characters and roles that everyone wants to watch. And I want to create roles for Black women, specifically, that are really empowering, dynamic, and nuanced and that are leads because, actually, there are really very few.
Why she’s been so outspoken
Me talking about political issues on a social platform was kind of an accident. It’s something that’s a part of my everyday—it’s super central to who I am as a person.
In the interview with Dazed, she spoke about digging the dress Jaden wore to prom and her friendship with his younger sister Willow.
It figures that Stenberg is most at home around trailblazers. In May, her (platonic) prom date was Jaden Smith – she wore a septum ring and her hair in show-stopping grey braids, and he wore a long skirt with sneakers, a look she fully approved of. “Guys aren’t allowed to express femininity; they have to always appear masculine and that’s bullshit,” she says. “I love it when guys can be feminine and express their emotions and creativity; it shows strength.” Stenberg met Jaden’s sister, Willow, after they began having dreams about each other. Willow messaged her, saying, “I feel like we are supposed to be friends,” so the two met up and talked about everything they loved for a good hour. “Then we did interpretive dance to Grimes,” says Stenberg, giggling.
We expect some pretty incredible things from her in the future. You can read both of her interviews in their entirety here and here. Note that in the image above, from her Dazed shoot features words from Angela Davis on her face.
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.
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.
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?
“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.
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.
“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.
— Ahsoka Maven (@scifimaven) July 14, 2015
— amberwavesofgray (@amberwavesgray) July 14, 2015
— gee saint (@luvlygeenius) July 14, 2015
In defense against claims that he called Stenberg herself a jackhole, Cohen tweeted:
To clarify, I gave the jackhole to an online feud & certainly not to the topic or to any individual. I ironically hate online feuds.
— Andy Cohen (@Andy) July 14, 2015
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.