“Cultural appropriation is about the power dynamic. When people with power and privilege decide to ‘validate’ customs and traditions that oppressed people have long been marginalized for by saying ‘This is the hot new thing,’ then we have serious problems,” writer and speaker Feminista Jones told CNN in 2016.
The new criticism of Bieber’s hair is just the latest cultural controversy involving the 27-year-old Canadian singer, who has long been accused of racial insensitivity. Bieber apologized in 2014 after videos surfaced
showing him using the n-word and making a racist joke.
His new album, “Justice,” includes a track called “MLK Interlude” — almost two minutes of
a speech by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. King’s daughter, Bernice King, tweeted her approval
last month after Bieber expressed his support for social justice organizations, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Center.
Bieber has said he is merely trying to amplify the civil rights leader’s message
— but people on social media criticized the album’s use of King’s words.
“I know that I cannot simply solve injustice by making music but I do know that if we all do our part by using our gifts to serve this planet and each other that we are that much closer to being united,” Bieber tweeted
before the album’s release.
Bieber is certainly not the only celebrity who’s been accused of cultural appropriation over their hairstyle. Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian
and Kylie Jenner
have also come under fire for rocking cornrows.
In 2015, “Fashion Police” host Giuliana Rancic sparked criticism when she said that
Disney star Zendaya Coleman’s dreadlocks hairstyle “smells like patchouli oil … or weed.” She later apologized.
Critics at the time said the incident highlighted how White celebrities are sometimes hailed as edgy for wearing ethnic hairstyles such as cornrows and dreadlocks while women of color are degraded for wearing their natural hair in similar styles.