This week’s influential woman is friends with the girl in my previous post, Rowan Blanchard. Amandla Stenberg is a 17 year-old actress who has represented feminism and black culture in beautiful ways. She’s most known for her acting of the young Catelaya in the film “Columbiana,” and as Rue in “The Hunger Games.” As well as being a successful actress, Amandla is a model. She has co-written for the book “Niobe: She is Life” with Sebastian Jones. The actress runs a Tumblr blog, where she reposts beautiful pictures of men and women of color, and posts about feminism and protecting black peoples’ rights. For a young woman, Amandla is extremely composed, as shown by her video “Don’t Cash Crop On My Cornrows.” In this iconic video, Amandla calmly explains the origin of cornrows, and how they help keep a black persons’ hair out of their face, because it is usually pretty wild. She explains that black stars would incorporate this hairstyle in their videos and to fashion events, as well as locs, braids, twists, etc. These hairstyles are also just a part of black culture.
Soon, in the early 2010’s, famous people who were white adopted these hairstyles as their own, and dubbed them as “fashion statements.” Even girls on the runway were seen wearing their hair in cornrows. Around the time of Iggy Azalea’s song “Fancy” and Macklemore’s song “Thrift Shop” were famous in the hip-hop world, police brutality was growing rampant. Deaths of boys like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, and many more, caused many black stars to speak up on those topics. The stars who were white often were silent on this, even though they had previously taken black culture in their own hands. They were essentially only into the hairstyles and grills for the aesthetic, but when real issues sprung up, crickets chirped.
Amandla isn’t angry during this five-minute long video, she’s not aggressive. She just simply states the facts about cultural appropriation in the media and in stars, as well as common society. It’s an example of extreme maturity, an extent to which some adults cannot achieve. On her blog, Amandla constantly advocates for womens’ rights and misogyny in the workplace as well as in schools and Hollywood. Amandla recently came out as bisexual, having taken over the Teen Vogue snapchat and posting several videos explaining that Willow Smith gave her confidence to be who she really was. She surrounds herself with good, honest people and I look up to her immensely. Amandla Stenberg is a brave, young, woman who doesn’t take crap from anyone who’s unopposed to criticizing her, which should be common in all females. Be confident.
Title from “California” by Joni Mitchell.