Adele has been accused of cultural appropriation for wearing Bantu knots and a Jamaican flag bikini bra. She recently posted the photo to Instagram to celebrate “what would be” the Notting Hill Carnival celebration that happens every year.
Some were shocked by Adele’s apparent insensitivity while others claimed that there’s a difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation, and that Adele was displaying the latter. Take a look at the photo for yourself.
Adele’s photo has more than four million likes on Instagram and thousands of comments, some critical and some that rush to her defense. “It’s the cultural appropriation for me and somehow getting away with it because she’s not American,” one commenter wrote.
“*Sigh* Can you STOP appropriating other cultures. It’s sick and racist,” wrote another. But then someone else tried to explain, “The Notting Hill Carnival that takes place at this time of year is a celebration of West Indies heritage in London/UK. Adele grew up in Tottenham, one of the largest Jamaican diasporas in the UK. This seems a strange thing for Americans to now get offended about.”
Soon, the controversy and arguments made their way to Twitter, where talk about the photo thrust Adele into the viral spotlight. “Stunning cultural appropriation,” Frederick Joseph wrote in response to a tweet claiming that Adele “looks stunning in new Instagram photo.”
Journalist Ernest Owens writes that this photo “officially marks all of the top white women in pop as problematic.” Author Saeed Jones took a screenshot of the photo and posted it to Twitter the simple but devastating caption, “This year just won’t let up.”
One Instagram commenter offered a more nuanced position: “We can agree to disagree on whether this was cultural appropriation (personally I think it is). But MORE IMPORTANTLY, she could have used this as an opportunity to highlight actual Black Jamaican people and Jamaican beauty! Not her own. This was a self-absorbed and tone-deaf move.”
Still, it seems that Adele received just as much support for this look as she did criticism. Many claimed that the only people getting mad about Adele’s photo are Black Americans who don’t understand the context.
One Twitter user wrote, “Black Americans trying to cancel Adele for making an African hairstyle and wearing a Jamaican flag will forever be funny. While Africans are praising her and Jamaicans are happy she did. These Black Americans are really starting to be bitter bullies.”
Another Twitter user wrote, “Dear Black Americans, we love the Bantu knot and I don’t think Jamaicans are complaining about the bikini. Deal with your insecurities and leave Adele tf alone!”
“I love it,” wrote one Instagram user. “As an ACTUAL Jamaican from the ACTUAL Caribbean, I love it! It’s an appreciation of our culture. For everyone that has an issue with it, just know, we Caribbean people are cool with it. So y’all can calm down and leave her alone.”
Reactions to Adele’s latest Instagram post seem to vary on an individual level. She’s receiving a lot of support and a lot of criticism. So what do you think? Is Adele’s outfit unacceptable cultural appropriation or unproblematic cultural appreciation?