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Justin Bieber accused of cultural appropriation over new dreadlocks hairstyle

justinbieber / Instagram


Justin Bieber accused of cultural appropriation over new dreadlocks hairstyle


Justin Bieber is being accused of cultural appropriation over his hair.

Bieber revealed a new look lately, prompting the usual charges of cultural appropriation.

On Sunday, the Canadian singer revealed his locs on Instagram, followed by a close-up on Monday. The pictures sparked anger on social media, much as they did in 2016, when he was seen with cornrows.

He was immediately chastised on Twitter, and he was the topic of numerous think pieces about how Black hair has been politicized and weaponized in racist environments.

Justin Bieber attends the 2016 iHeartRadio Music Awards. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

The backlash occurred four years after he was chastised for wearing cornrows – and, yes, dreadlocks – which are usually associated with Black culture and identity, and wearing them is seen as cultural appropriation by some. Bieber’s hairstyle was deemed insulting and disrespectful by several Black women on social media, who begged him to change it and apologize.


But his hairdo was praised by his peers.

Jaden Smith said, “Swags crazy,” under one of Bieber’s posts, while Instagram user @joetermini wrote, “Just out here living your best life.”

Zendaya’s locs on the Oscars red carpet in 2015 drew racial criticism, with E! anchor Giuliana Rancic reportedly claiming that the actress “smells like patchouli oil or weed.”

“The privilege of being able to wear locs sans scrutiny, while simultaneously not needing to know anything about their history is what pisses Black folks off,” Josie Pickens wrote for Ebony.

“It is maddening that white people love the culture that we produce so much — whether it be locs or Drake, but seem ambivalent towards our suffering and what it costs to create such a gorgeous culture in the face [of] constant erasure and hate,” she said. “And, yes, whites wearing locs absolutely is cultural appropriation.”

“When I see a white person in mainstream media sporting a black hairstyle, it makes me angry,” Stephanie Cohen, co-founder and legal and political organiser of the Halo Collective, a natural hair organization, told the Guardian.

justinbieber / Instagram

“I’m angry because this standard does not exist when a black person simply wears their hair in this way. You can’t just wear something so historically significant and ignore the struggles behind what the hairstyle purports.”

“Cultural appropriation is about the power dynamic. When people with power and privilege decide to ‘validate’ customs and traditions that oppressed people have long been marginalized for by saying ‘This is the hot new thing,’ then we have serious problems,” writer and speaker Feminista Jones told CNN in 2016.

The “Peaches” singer responded to the allegations in 2016 by saying, “It’s just my hair.”

Natural hair isn’t viewed as fashionable or cutting edge among people of color. It is still subjected to discrimination and policing. A Texas kid was suspended in 2020 after refusing to trim his locs. To avoid forfeiting the match, a New Jersey high school wrestler had to chop off his locs in 2019.

Fans and critics alike are now accusing him of the same thing.

“this is cultural appropriation… I know you can do better,” a fan account for Bieber’s wife, Hailey Bieber (née Baldwin), commented on his Instagram selfie.

Those who willfully disregard, insult, or reject the cultural importance of hairstyles, according to Cohen, have “no right” to wear them.

“My reasoning and understanding of someone wearing something not specific to their culture or ethnicity is that if they cannot speak for black or minority rights [and] be a consistent ally – then they have no right to wear something like locs.”

The 27-year-old Canadian musician, who has long been accused of racial insensitivity. After footage surfaced in 2014 showing him using the n-word and making a racist joke, Bieber apologized.

Although Bieber has previously stated that he is “very influenced by Black culture” and has lately used his position to fight for racial equality, some social media users have stated that his “totally offensive and disrespectful” hair has taken him “1,000 (steps) backwards.”

“Listen @justinbieber I don’t care how long I’ve liked you, this is cultural appropriation and I don’t like it,” tweeted @jadorehyungwon. “Justin how are you gonna preach that you’re an advocate for black people and then keep appropriating them? Make it make sense buddy.”

“It’s really disappointing to see you with dreads, I thought you educated yourself,” one Instagram user said under Bieber’s Instagram photo.

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