Monday, August 31, 2020 5:11 pm
By Nehru Odeh
Multiple Grammy award winner, Adele, set the internet on fire when she posted a photo of herself wearing an African hairstyle and Jamaican themed bikini on Instagram to mark the start of this year’s Notting Hill Carnival which is being celebrated virtually.
Adele took the photo dressed in a Jamaican flag print bikini, with her hair in several small buns known as ‘Bantu knots’. That style is usually associated with people of African descent.
The Tottenham-born superstar captioned the post: “Happy what would be Notting Hill Carnival my beloved London.”
But rather than being celebrated for marking the carnival, some people took to social media to excoriate her, accusing her of cultural appropriation.
According to the Boston Standard, “Cultural appropriation is the unacknowledged or inappropriate use of customs, practices and ideas that are associated with a culture to which the user does not belong. The term is typically only applied to someone who belongs to a more dominant culture in society, than that of the culture they are deemed to be appropriating. “
Her critics are of the view that she is not supposed to wear that hairstyle and a Jamaican themed bikini because she is white and does not belong to the culture she is trying to promote.
They have been very hard on her, Why one critic believes she ought to go to jail for appropriating other people’s culture, another is of the view that she ought not to give Bantu knots and cultural appropriation that nobody asked for. “ …All of the top white women in pop as problematic. Hate to see it,” the critic said. Another said bantu knots are not to be worn by white people.
While others, especially celebrities like Naomi Campbell, have risen to her defence, when one takes a close look at the caption, one would see that the Grammy award-winner didn’t mean any harm. He has every right to adorn that hairstyle even though she is not African because the Notting Hill Carnival is a celebration of different cultures. The eclectic nature of the festival, which showcases a myriad of cultures makes it appropriate for anybody to sport any kind of hairstyle or wears
From the caption, Adele was only lamenting that the Notting Hill Carnival would not be celebrated this year as it used to since it would be celebrated virtually. That was why she said, Happy what would be Notting Hill Carnival, my beloved London. And she is also looking forward to the carnival with excitement, trying to picture what the carnival would look like regardless of her skin colour. But why should she be crucified or that?
Come to think of it, doesn’t she have the right as an individual to freedom of expression? Rather than being accused of cultural appropriation, her critics are the ones guilty of cultural “misappropriation” and racism because they believe that since she is white he is not supposed to sport African hairstyle and wears.
That distinction and difference they are trying to create and promote are itself antithetical to world peace and progress. They should first of all remove the mole in their own eyes before talking about the speck in other people’s eyes. After all, the original owners of those cultures are not complaining.
When we begin to question who wears what and when we are calling the essence of our humanity, our oneness, our freedoms, into question. And that is not what we need now in this time of the novel coronavirus. Come to think of it, who has the power or sole right to legislate on who wears what, when and how?