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The 16-year-old, who’s appeared in The Hunger Games and Sleepy Hollow, teamed up with her classmate Quinn Masterson for their high school history class. The video, titled “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows,” features Stenberg discussing the history of why black women take care of their hair and cultural significance of hip-hop—and what happens when people from other cultures appropriate those styles (such as Katy Perry, Macklemore, and Iggy Azalea) and are praised for it while black men and women are shamed and many unarmed black men are killed by police.
“What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we loved black culture?” she asks at the end of her video.
Stenberg has received plenty of support for her smart take on the subject, but she’s also gotten criticism and racist comments on Tumblr and has had to defend herself against people claiming that cultural appropriation is a “fad” or calling her racist.
“But because of this ‘fad,’ and because I have seen black pride in a way I never had growing up, I love myself and I am proud,” she wrote. “I embrace my culture. And I have never felt more comfortable in myself. It’s not a fad—it’s a movement.”
Michelle Jaworski is a staff writer and the resident Game of Thrones expert at the Daily Dot. She covers entertainment, geek culture, and pop culture and has brought her knowledge to conventions like Con of Thrones. She is based in New Jersey.