If you haven’t seen it on social media or in the tabloids lately, Justin Bieber has now adjusted his long blonde hair into short thin dreadlocks; and some people are not happy about it.
Recently the Canadian pop star posted multiple selfies on Instagram of his new look. Millions have stated that his new look is “dope” and “cool”, but a few (as always) have had some pretty nasty things to say about his new dreadlocks. It has moved to the point where fans and others have accused Justin on cultural appropriation.
This isn’t the first time Justin Bieber has shocked his fan base on a look that is originated in black culture. Earlier in January, Bieber was spotted on social media with blonde cornrows with Hailey Baldwin. That didn’t cause as much trouble as it has now, in where we have people like Charlemagne Tha God tweeting “Justin Bieber didn’t get the memo that white people look stupid with dreadlocks huh?” Other fans have commented that they love Bieber, but he should stop appropriating black culture.
I think the real issue here isn’t the Canadian popstar’s new hairdo, but cultural appropriation as a whole. If you were to search what cultural appropriation is, you’d find it is the adoption or use of elements of one culture by the members of a different culture. So to speak plainly, it’s taking something of influence from one culture and imparting into yours.
The way cultural appropriation is portrayed in this instance is as if it’s an offence to the culture where its elements have been taken unlawfully and placed to another culture. But have we not seen something like this happen in general where diverse cultures start to interact with each other?
Take South Africa for example. South Africa is known to be one of the most diverse countries in the world, where we have 11 official languages. One of those languages are bound to influence one another. Take for example, my mother tongue: isiXhosa. The language itself has multiple influences from Afrikaans that it has adopted over the past 100 years and it has influenced our culture today. Even the food we eat are dishes that originate from other cultures like peri-peri sauce, but we find that it influences the food our mothers fed us when we were children.
Now in modern culture today, we see it is all about expression and individualism. People listen to different music, wear different clothes and express themselves in fashion in different ways- all influenced by different cultures altogether. All this plays a massive impact on people today because they find their identity in all the different and diverse cultures that they are exposed to
Cultural appropriation isn’t about singling out one race or culture’s origins, but about influence and expression. Some people (like Justin Bieber) may do it in getting dreadlocks, or listening to different types of music. It’s all about a person or group finding and adjusting the identity in their culture, by taking influence from another.