How Come No-One Cares When Miley Cyrus Wears Cornrows?

Justin Bieber has guts. In fact, given his history and the anti-Justin Bieber climate, he has guts for days.

Looking at Black Twitter’s molten reaction to Justin Bieber defending Kylie Jenner amid an emotive, frequently confused cultural appropriation furor about her wearing cornrows in an Instagram photo she posted, it is likely the near-total silence among the Hollywood elite on the wider #BlackLivesMatter movement will continue.

Bieber’s stand for Jenner appears to have been more about trying to reach people posting hate comments at Kylie’s Instagram, than an actual defence of cultural appropriation. But many Twitter users who proceeded to drag the Canadian were not interested in details, as one user cited below noted.

justin didn’t say that she wasn’t appropriating culture, he said that she wasn’t a racist. where did he lie

— jordan (@biebsuschrist) July 13, 2015

Specifically addressing those Instagram users who accused Kylie of racism, the 21-year-old singer wrote, “Guys leave her alone. We’re all trying to figure it out and she happens to be under a microscope! I’m the first to know this.”

Bieber continued, “But saying she’s… being racist because she wants her hair in braids is ridiculous. Let’s focus on the bigger picture instead of fighting over something stupid, lets do something about equality, but it doesn’t start here blasting a 17-year-old kid for wearing braids smh.”

#JustinBeiber backed up #KylieJenner on wearing her hair in cornrows

A photo posted by The Shade Room (@theshaderoominc) on

The context is: Kylie shared an Instagram snap of herself wearing cornrows on Saturday. Alongside the photo, the 17-year-old wrote, “I woke up like disss.”

To date, over 1.3 million liked Kylie’s post. Over 141,000 have commented. Many piled on Jenner for perceived racism and cultural appropriation, and her rumored relationship with the 25-year-old rapper, Tyga.

I woke up like disss

A photo posted by King Kylie (@kyliejenner) on

At the time Jenner posted her selfie, the hashtag #WhiteGirlsDoItBetter was trending on Twitter. Not surprisingly, the hashtag prompted anger from many who viewed it as racially provocative.

BuzzFeed reports someone left the hashtag as a comment at Kylie’s Instagram page, with The Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg subsequently leaving her damning remark at Jenner’s account, accusing the reality TV starlet of cultural appropriation and non-action over black activism.

Stenberg’s pointed slam read, “When u appropriate black features and culture but fail to use ur position of power to help black Americans by directing attention towards ur wigs… instead of police brutality or racism #whitegirlsdoitbetter.”

Kylie reportedly replied, “Mad if I don’t, Mad if I do …. Go hang w Jaden or something,” in a reference to Stenberg attending a prom with mutual pal Jaden Smith in May.

Stenberg has been vocal about appropriation before. She shared a clip titled “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows,” earlier this year, which asked the question: “What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?”

The actress subsequently posted statements at her social media accounts explaining her view that black female attributes such as bigger lips, darker skin, and cornrows are desired and celebrated on everyone but black women.

Based on comments left at Jenner’s Instagram, that take was shared by many black girls who wrote about their experience of being ridiculed at schools and jobs for their cornrows, getting kicked out of schools and jobs for the same reason, and/or feeling the need to not wear braids to fit into white culture. (See the tweet embedded above.)

Others criticized Bieber for not jumping to Zendaya’s defence when the Fashion Police’s Giuliana Rancic made racist comments about actress-singer rocking braids at this year’s Oscars. However, Bieber is a longstanding pal of Kylie and the Kardashian-Jenner clan. He may have felt it was more natural and appropriate for him to speak up for Kylie.

The following post is typical of the gist of many Twitter users’ comments.

when Justin Bieber stands up for Kylie for appropriating black features & black culture but fail to use his voice during #blacklivesmatter

— lesbian hippy (@mynamestaya) July 13, 2015

Another Twitter user, among others, said cultural appropriation was racism on a smaller scale. Many commenters made the point that if people of color say something is racially offensive, it should automatically be considered as such.

Another enraged user blasted Bieber at his Instagram account, ranting, “My people are out here struggling and you’re telling us not to get mad because some spoiled white girl is… APPROPRIATING MY F—— CULTURE you F—— IDIOT.” She added, “It’s not just braids it’s my culture… I hate [that] you want to be black so bad without realizing the issues and struggles we face everyday as a race.”

These comments basically nutshell the barrier many white people face if they get involved in racially-charged debates. The backdrop of America’s racist past and present, inequality, and the continuing systemic brutalization of black people can be seen in #Ferguson, Tamir Rice, #McKinney, #Baltimore, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and the generations of strange fruit that go before them.

Clearly, it is ludicrous to dump that historic weight on Justin Bieber and Kylie Jenner. But it is also understandable why black activists are demanding that background be recognized and addressed.

Some Justin Bieber fans tweeted the singer, urging him to refrain from defending Kylie. It is likely many did this aware of the landmine he was stepping into, given the backlash he faced last June when years-old videos of him using the n-word surfaced. Justin was only 14 and 15 when the two videos were filmed. He subsequently apologized twice.

the twitter activists will drag justin for this, but he gets dragged for everything he does. so i digress

— jordan (@biebsuschrist) July 13, 2015

Justin knows what it feels like to have no one there for you. And he isnt going to do the same to others.

— —- (@turntxox) July 13, 2015

my final thought on this: justin should take the time to educate himself before posting, but calling him racist for that comment is nonsense

— jordan (@biebsuschrist) July 13, 2015

It is cultural appropriation. Obviously he doesn’t understand & he’s defending her bc he’s a good person. The backlash will b a learning (c)

— True (@JustTruuu) July 13, 2015

Experience for him.

— True (@JustTruuu) July 13, 2015

Into the mix of all this, The Breakfast Club — Power 105.1 FM’s Charlamagne Tha God called out black Twitter for demanding that a 17-year-old white girl become a black civil rights advocate. The outspoken co-host tweeted his opinion on a range of related topics.

Celebrities who appear to have escaped the cultural appropriation/racism firing squad include Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Christina Aguilera, Selena Gomez, Justin Timberlake, Kim Kardashian, Fergie, Axl Rose, Jared Leto, and more.

Looking at the roll call, it’s arguable that accusations of cultural appropriation and racism in the instances of Justin Bieber and Kylie Jenner are more about who they are and whether or not people like them, than anything else.

Miley Cyrus
(Photo: Miley Cyrus rocking braids in a cornrow style in Studio City, California on Sunday, July 12)
Katy Perry
(Photo: Katy Perry wearing cornrows during a scene in her 2014 music video, 'This Is How We Do')
Justin Bieber
(Photo: Christina Aguilera wore cornrows for sizeable stretches during her career)
(Photo: Songstress Fergie is frequently seen in showcasing a cornrows hairstyle to very little fuss)
Lena Dunham
(Photo: Lena Dunham wore cornrows when she appeared on Jimmy Fallon's late night talk show earlier this year)
Gwen Stefani
(Photo: Gwen Stefani with cornrows in 2000)
Juliette Lewis
(Photo: Juliette Lewis wore her hair in the traditional braided style in 1992)
Justin Bieber
(Photo: Yes, that is Jared Leto wearing the forbidden hairstyle)
Axl Rose
Axl Rose flaunting his colorful version of the cornrows style
Selena Gomez
(Photo: Selena Gomez wearing cornrows in a promotional picture)
(Photo: Ke$ha seen wearing her hair in a side cornrow style)

[Images via WENN / Getty Images]