Adele Sparks Backlash, Cultural Appropriation Debate With Bantu Knots Photo

Adele is caught up in a cultural appropriation controversy and her name was trending in several ways on social media.

Fans, journalists, and celebrities either complimented her, cracked jokes, or called the singer out. While many confused Adele for Katy Perry, a number of folks aren’t feeling what she posted on Instagram.

Adele
Adele at 59th Grammy Awards, 2017 | Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic/Getty Images

What’s happening in the Adele photo

Social media users already had their eyes and hands full with the MTV VMAs and the Chadwick Boseman tribute on ABC, but Adele’s latest Instagram photo did not go unnoticed.

In fact, it went viral. Below, you can see the British pop star rocking Bantu knots in her hair and a bikini top decorated with the Jamaican flag.

Adele captioned her post with a nod to carnival in Notting Hill, an annual street party held in London each summer. Carnival is a celebration of Caribbean culture where performers don colorful costumes and parade down the street, and artists play live music. Those who aren’t performing are simply revelers who pack the streets to party.

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Adele’s outfit is a shout out to the event which was held virtually this year due to COVID-19. However, her look is really what’s at the center of the backlash.

Some are calling Adele out for cultural appropriation, others love it

One thing at issue is the hairstyle called Bantu knots. A centuries-old style traditionally worn by Black women, its origins come from the Zulu nation in South Africa. Online, fans and critics note that Bantu knots and other hairstyles commonly worn by Black women are constant targets of discrimination, humiliation, and oppression.

Adele’s decision to rock the style and post it set off a firestorm on Instagram and Twitter. While some are defending the singer and saying she’s showing appreciation for Jamaican culture, others are deeming it cultural appropriation.

Jemele Hill tweeted the photo and wrote, “No one. Absolutely not a f*cking soul. Nary a person. Adele.” And Ernest Owens tweeted the following:

Over on Adele’s Instagram, one fan wrote, “I’m a Jamaican, and i DO NOT appreciate this. Like, okay bikini top and carnival feathers, regalia, yes. The hair went too far for me.” Others are comparing her to the Kardashians who are no strangers to similar controversies.

Some are advising her to delete the picture, but Adele also has a slew of supporters. Many are loving her look and find it flattering that she’s celebrating carnival.

They think it’s innocent. Naomi Campbell, Popcaan, and Zoe Saldana all shouted her out, and some fans say it’s fine for the occasion.

Other celebs caught flak for the same thing

Fans are debating in comment sections all over social media, with some wondering why Adele isn’t catching the same amount of heat as the Kardashian-Jenners.

They are typically at the forefront of such discussions about hair and appropriation. But Iggy Azalea, Nikita Dragun, Miley Cyrus, and Madonna have also received criticism for cultural appropriation. Adele generally stays low-key and avoids controversy, so it’s possible she’ll stay mum on this debate.