adele wearing jamaican flag top and bantu knots with yellow feathers


Adele accused of cultural appropriation after showing off her Bantu knots

Cultural appropriation, or not?


Kahron Spearman

Internet Culture

Published Aug 31, 2020   Updated Aug 31, 2020, 11:14 am CDT

Adele is being accused of cultural appropriation after sharing a now-viral Instagram photo in a Jamaican bikini top and with her hair in Bantu knots.

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The photo has become a source for an overflow of amazing memes, and also a unique lens into the differences within Black cultures, and what is considered appropriative behavior.

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The 32-year-old superstar posted the pic, writing: “Happy what would be Notting Hill Carnival my beloved London.”

For the first time in its 50-year history, West London’s annual celebration of Caribbean and Black culture took place remotely, due to COVID-19. The singer has undergone a noted physical transformation and also wanted to celebrate her body. However, the bikini top and hair knots proved a bit much for people on social media. 

But first came the jokes and memes. @ayce24s tweeted, making a play on her hit song “Hello”: “adele said “HELLO PON DI OTHER SIDE.”

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@blaccmass posted a hilarious mash-up of Adele’s “Hello” with Wayne Wonder’s all-time dancehall smash, 2003’s “No Letting Go.”

@sheika66287761 tweeted a long-used meme, noting how tightly wound her knots looked:
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@superTV247 compared Adele’s knot look with Lisa Simpson.

@AmeriKraut wrote that someone had to have helped her into her appropriation: “alright, so which one of the innit blacks put those bantu knots in adele’s hair because i know she did not pull that off youtube? ya’ll are messsssssyyyyyyyyyyyyy lmaooooooo.”

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However, beyond the jokes at her expense, people had a wide range of takes on whether Adele’s outfit and hair were cultural appropriations of African/Caribbean culture. 

Piers Morgan quipped on how Adele was turning into a well-noted appropriationist, Katy Perry.

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“If 2020 couldn’t get anymore bizarre, Adele is giving us Bantu knots and cultural appropriation that nobody asked for,” wrote @MrErnestOwens. “This officially marks all of the top white women in pop as problematic. Hate to see it.”

However, for many, condemnation of Adele is misplaced and ignorant of English/Caribbean culture. The cultural differences between Black culture in America and Black culture in England and the rest of the world have been at odds. 

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Replying to Owens’ tweets, @tom_1986 wrote: “British people reading this, we need to break free of this toxic American ideology & stop it dragging us down. Anyone who has spent five minutes at Notting Hill Carnival knows this is completely normal & is embraced.”

“Nah, bro. Read up on the Notting Hill Carnival before you comment on this photo,” @TielaLeo tweeted, on another reply. “In my humble opinion, this is not cultural appropriation. It is cultural appreciation! That festival is a celebration of different cultures.”

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@iamdahmmie wrote a short letter to Black America:

“Dear Black Americans, we love the Banta knot and I don’t think Jamaicans are complaining about the bikini,” she tweeted. “Deal with your insecurities and leave Adele tf alone!”

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*First Published: Aug 31, 2020, 10:18 am CDT