Kylie Jenner with cornrows.
Two teen stars — one a Caucasian Kardashian with an allegedly insensitive hairstyle, the other a biracial “Hunger Games” fatality with a burgeoning political consciousness — are embroiled in a social media Armageddon about race.
Kylie Jenner — the 17-year-old daughter of Caitlyn Jenner, nee Bruce Jenner, and Kris Jenner, formerly Kris Kardashian — posted a photo to Instagram of her new hairdo on Saturday: cornrows. Kylie is white.
The hairstyle, however, is not. Or so said Amandla Stenberg — a 16-year-old star perhaps best known as Rue, the unlucky tribute slain in the “The Hunger Games.”
As the Hollywood Life reported, Stenberg wrote: “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.”
Jenner responded quickly. “Mad if I don’t, Mad if I do … Go hang w Jaden or something,” she reportedly wrote. This was a reference to Jaden Smith — son of celebrity couple Will and Jada Pinkett Smith. Jaden Smith attended Stenberg’s prom with her in May — and Jaden and Jenner were once reportedly involved.
In a statement posted to Twitter early Monday, Stenberg responded to this schoolyard diss with a long statement about cultural appropriation.
“Black features are beautiful,” she wrote. “Black women are not. White women are paragons of virtue and desire. Black women are objects of fetishism and brutality.”
Stenberg also made reference to white women’s lip plumping — a particularly vicious burn given Jenner’s admitted penchant for lip enhancement.
“While white women are praised for altering their bodies, plumping their lips and tanning their skin,” Stenberg wrote, “black women are shamed although the same features exist on them naturally.”
She added in a comment that appeared to be directed at Jenner: “Bigger than you or me. discussions are healthy. ignorance is not.”
The statement was one of many in which Stenberg, whose first name means “power” in Zulu, has discussed racial injustice. As a tween, she appeared in a public-service announcement that first aired the weekend President Obama was first inaugurated; in 2011, she gave a speech at the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington. In April, she appeared in a widely circulated video she made for a history class that discussed cultural appropriation.
“Appropriation occurs when a style leads to racist generalizations or stereotypes where it originated but is deemed as high-fashion, cool or funny when the privileged take it for themselves,” Stenberg wrote in “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows.”
So early in this newly formed feud, it was unclear who had won the round. Messages of support appeared on both stars’ Instagram pages.
“I’m not allowed to admire traditional African American hairstyles then?” read one post on Jenner’s page. “How ironic, talk about suppression.”
“Kylie can’t even blend her extensions,” read one post on Stenberg’s page. “I’m pretty sure she can’t grasp the concept of what this even says … Praising you Amandla.”
Here’s Stenberg’s statement in full.