Hunger Games Star Amandla Stenberg: Lessons On Black Culture

April 15, 2015  |  

You may remember Amandla Stenberg as the young Rue in “Hunger Games”, but this talented teen actress is proving her knowledge of survival surpasses the movie screens. Stenberg recently raised the question: “What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?” – one many of us have wondered.

For a school history project, Stenberg explored the ever-evolving influence of Black culture and culture appropriation often dished out in the media. She hit the nail on the head. In her video, “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows” the young star laments on the history of various elements of our culture that makes its way to the mainstream and is next misappropriated. (Think our hairstyles, fashion and hip hop.)

“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,” says Stenberg in the video.

In less than five minutes, Stenberg has made herself a platform many teens should look to build – speaking on issues of our time. The 16-year-old calls out many artists we’ve often criticized such as Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus and Iggy Azalea for their blatant misappropriation of Black culture in their music videos.

The wise teen also points out artists who have been vocal about such appropriation and overall racism embedded into our institutions leading to the Black Lives Matter movement.

In a day when many teens are easily influenced by their peers, this is one video worth sharing with your teen as they better understand the world they live in, what they bring to society and more. We live in a day where Black teens are seeing their friends  gunned down by police, a day when college fraternities are blatant about their racism and our children are taking it all in.

It’s time for us to make sure our teens have a platform and voice to discuss the frustrations they may be feeling in a safe place. Stenberg is not only teaching her peers about Black culture and misappropriation but the need to have one’s voice heard.

The literary guru James Baldwin has a quote that goes, “Freedom lurked around us and I understood, at last, that he could help us be free if we would listen, that he would never be free until we did.”

Watch Sternberg’s video with your teen and affirm a place for them to be heard and hopefully free.


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