In his recent new look, Justin Bieber sparked familiar accusations of cultural appropriation without any knowledge of the history of black people.
Bieber shared a series of photos at the end of the weekend, showing off his new dreadlocks.
Dreadlocks are rope-like strands of hair formed by locking or braiding hair which is associated with black culture and their history so, when white people choose to use this hairstyle, it is considered by some to be insensitive and inappropriate.
Black hair is a touchy subject that is tied to beauty, identity and politics and it often makes a statement when worn.
What is cultural appropriation?
“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. Or when they refuse to credit the people who innovated those styles or traditions, but claim them as original ideas, then we get into appropriation,” said Feminista Jones, writer, speaker and former wearer of locks in an interview with CNN.
“Showing love for something awesome and doing so with respect to the culture is appreciation and I don’t see problems with that, for the most part. I do think white people have to be mindful of their privilege, though, and think twice before hopping on the newest ‘trend,’ especially if it clearly borrows from disenfranchised people,” Jones said.
Some people believe that white people should flat out never wear dreadlocks. Here’s what people had to say on Twitter:
While some jumped to defend the pop star, saying that people were overreacting:
Throwback to 2016
The pop star previously wore traditional hairstyle including cornrows and dreadlocks in 2016 where he was promptly attacked for it on social media which noted how black hair has been politicized and weaponised in racist spaces.
“The privilege of being able to wear locks sans scrutiny, while simultaneously not needing to know anything about their history is what pisses black folks off,” Josie Pickens wrote for Ebony.
“It is maddening that white people love the culture that we produce so much – whether it be dreadlocks or Drake, but seem ambivalent towards our suffering and what it costs to create such a gorgeous culture in the face [of]constant erasure and hate,” she continued. “And, yes, whites wearing dreadlocks absolutely is cultural appropriation.”
Many feel Bieber‘s dreadlocks are particularly offensive following the release of his newest album, ‘Justice’.
The tracklist included clips of Martin Luther King Jr. speeches, which Bieber said was intended to “amplify” the message of the Civil Rights Movement, as well as show his appreciation for black history.