Black Twitter Rolls With Laughter at Adele's Bantu Knots

Adele's recent Instagram post sparked a debate about cultural appropriation—and some entertaining remixes.

Adele wears Bantu knots in a photo posted on her Instagram

Adele's Instagram

Adele was rolling in the deep last weekend after posting a controversial photo on her Instagram page.

Captioned "Happy what would be Notting Hill Carnival my beloved London," the photo shows Adele wearing a triangle bikini top with the Jamaican flag printed on it, long athletic stretch pants, a yellow feather Carnival shoulder piece, and gold jewelry. The outfit is a good fit for Afro-Caribbean carnival events, so it makes sense that Adele might wear it on a day that people would have been reveling and sharing culture if not for COVID-19. The problem, however, is the hairstyle. Adele's hair is in bantu knots.

Bantu knots, like locs and cornrows, are a Black hairstyle. Hair is parted into sections and coiled into buns. The style is also referred to as Zulu knots because it originated with Zulu people in South Africa. It is now popular throughout the African diaspora, and it is used both for protection (of the hair) and for style. For a non-Black person to wear this hairstyle is, in fact, cultural appropriation.

Celebrities are gassing Adele up in the comments and elsewhere. Zoe Saldana said, "You look right at home guurrrl." Zoe Saldana has only recently come to realize it was wrong for her, as a light-skinned Black woman, to play the role of Nina Simone—which required makeup to darken her skin and a prosthetic nose. She is definitely not the person to give Adele the go ahead on cultural appropriation.

Many Jamaicans and people throughout the Caribbean and African regions have also come to Adele's defense, noting that Carnival is a time for sharing cultures and arguing that her attire would have been appropriate for such an event. It is often the case, however, that those quick to defend people who have been called out for cultural appropriation have never experienced the same discrimination as those drawing attention to the issue.

Cultural appropriation can be a complicated subject, especially in quickly fired tweets, but it's worth the discussion. Technically, cultural appropriation is the use of an element or set of elements from a culture or identity that the offending person does not share. It is usually done without understanding of the history, tradition, or meaning of the element or elements in question, and does nothing to educate other people about their origin. In many cases, the element or elements are looked down upon by the dominant culture or identity, so its appropriation presents a cost to the people who own it and a benefit to the people who misuse it.

Black hair is an easy example of cultural appropriation because Black people continue to face discrimination on the basis of their hair. Black people are fired from their jobs and barred from graduation for having locs while white people use them as a fashion statement. Cultural appropriation at its worst allows people to wear and flaunt an aspect of another group's culture or identity without facing any of the discrimination that group endures.

It is easy to say "It's just hair" when you have never experienced discrimination for wearing your hair in a style or natural form that is directly connected to your culture and identity, whether place of origin, ethnic group, religion, or otherwise. Because of all this, there is no denying that Adele got it wrong. She is, however, well-liked. This, combined with what people believe to be her intent to celebrate diversity and the need for light moments led to a hilarious time on Black Twitter.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, top 40 songs were often remixed, giving us reggae or dancehall versions. Reggae artists would sing the songs in the same melody so they were completely recognizable, but with reggae musical arrangements. Yes, My Heart Will Go On had about a million reggae versions. This trend has not maintained the same frequency or popularity as back then, but people brought it back just for this Adele moment.

One of the best has got to be Adele's "Hello" vocals on the Wayne Wonder track "No Letting Go."

They slowed it down a little for "Someone Like You."

We finally have the Jamaican patois version of an Adele album tracklist.

It's been hilarious to see Adele's song titles and lyrics translated to Jamaican patois.

Someone dubbed Spice's "So Mi Like It" over a video of Adele rapping a Nicki Minaj verse.

It is always great to see Black joy, whether in physical or virtual spaces. The whole Adele-with-the-bantu-knots situation has shown that Black people remain undefeated in many areas. The creativity was on full display as video editing, audio engineering, photo memes, and clever turns of phrase flooded Twitter immediately. It took no time to turn a highly questionable moment into hours and hours of scrolling and full-belly laughter.

It has been a difficult year, and Black people have been dealing with far too much. Constantly having to affirm the value of our lives while putting them on the line takes its toll. It would have been easy to respond to Adele with rage, but Black Twitter came through with the jokes. Cultural appropriation is a serious issue, and we can tackle it even as we give ourselves the space and time to enjoy each other's virtual company.

Cultural appropriation is clearly difficult for people to understand, especially as we try to learn to appreciate other cultures. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that there is not enough attention on the discrimination and racial injustices we face every day, so big issues like hair are often viewed as small matters of style rather than evidence of a more pervasive issue.

We have a lot of work to do, from being more honest about our experiences and making private occurrences public to calling on people like Adele—who appear to appreciate our culture—-to speak out against the injustices we face. If it's okay to wear bantu knots as a white person appreciating Black culture, you're going to have to show up when Black people are made to suffer for participating in the culture that we created and fight to maintain. Appreciate the culture and ensure that people in positions of power do too. Use your own power to compel others to act. Be loud in your demand for justice and cultural appreciation at all times, not just on Notting Hill Carnival days.

Music Features

Lorde, Sia, Pearl Jam, and More Demand Politicians Stop Playing Music Without Permission

A new letter from the Artist Rights Alliance demands that politicians receive permission for the political use of music.

Update 8/4/2020: Canadian-American singer-songwriter Neil Young has filed a copyright infringement suit against Donald Trump's presidential campaign for the use of his songs "Rockin' in the Free World" and "Devil's Sidewalk" without a license. The Trump campaign reportedly played the songs at the June 20th rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where it's suspected that the late entrepreneur and Republican political figure Herman Cain contracted COVID-19.

The suit states that Young "cannot allow his music to be used as a 'theme song' for a divisive, un-American campaign of ignorance and hate." The lawsuit will serve as a test case for license exclusions in the case of political events.

Imagine pouring your hard work, your talent, and your heartfelt emotions into a work of art for all of humanity to enjoy, only to have it co-opted by a symbol of hatred and division.

For a stunning number of musicians who vehemently oppose Donald Trump's presidency, that is exactly what has happened in recent years. Despite repeated statements that they don't want their music played at his political rallies, Donald Trump's re-election campaign has continued to use music from artists like Adele, Rihanna, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Pharrell Williams, Axl Rose, and honestly too many others to mention.

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Why Adele's Rumored "Sirtfood Diet" Is Absolute Horsesh*t

"A diet where I can eat chocolate and drink wine? Sign me up!" Except no, absolutely the f*ck not.

Adele might be making media waves for her recent weight loss transformation, but don't be fooled–"The Sirtfood Diet" is no miracle.

The Sirtfood Diet––the brainchild of two celebrity nutritionists and the alleged "secret" behind Adele's weight loss––boldly claims that by following their plan and focusing on the "top 20 sirtfoods" (foods said to increase specific proteins in the body called sirtuins, which are related to metabolism regulation), dieters can activate their "skinny gene." Best of all, "top 20 sirtfoods" include red wine and dark chocolate. You can even lose seven pounds in a week, they claim.

"A diet where I can eat chocolate and drink wine? Sign me up!" Except no, absolutely the f*ck not.

It's a tale as timeless as snake oil salesmen. A celebrity loses a dramatic amount of weight with a secret new diet, and people turn out in droves to buy the book, desperate to transform their own bodies and blinded to the one simple truth of weight loss: There is no shortcut.

Sirtfood Diet

This is exactly why fad diets, such as "Sirtfood," are largely considered scams.

Here's how The Sirtfood Diet's "lose seven pounds in just one week!" malarkey actually works, and the scariest part is that, technically, they're telling the truth. You'll lose the weight; you just won't keep it off for more than a few weeks.

The Sirtfood Diet is divided into two phases.

Phase One lasts a week, and it's the phase during which adherents are said to lose those seven whole pounds. For the first three days, dieters drink three green juices daily and eat a single "Sirtfood" meal from their cookbook. This totals 1,000 calories per day. For the latter four days, calorie intake is upped to 1,500 with two daily juices and two "Sirtfood" meals.

Then, during Phase Two, you stop counting calories but continue drinking one green juice and eating three "Sirtfood" meals from the recipe book every day. Anytime you want to lose more weight, all you need to do is repeat Phase One. Simple right? Just follow the plan and lose the weight.

Well, sure, but it has nothing to do with "Sirtfoods." An average adult woman needs to eat an estimated 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day (based on height, weight, and activity level––your mileage may vary, and you can get a better sense of your specific caloric needs using a TDEE, or Total Daily Energy Expenditure, Calculator) in order to maintain your weight. This means that almost any adult on the planet will lose a significant amount of weight if they eat 1,000 calories per day.

Truly, all weight loss (short of liposuction) boils down to calories in vs. calories out. That doesn't mean calorie numbers are the only factor to consider when trying to lose weight. Health is a complex subject, and nutrient-dense foods will generally be better for your body than foods with low nutrient density, even if their calorie counts are similar. But the fact remains that you'll lose weight if you eat fewer calories than you burn, regardless of whether you're eating 1,000 calories of kale, 1,000 calories of chocolate, or 1,000 calories of pizza. The key to everything is consistency.

Maintaining consistency is the exact reason that accredited weight loss plans don't advise eating 1,000 calories per day––because eating 1,000 calories per day isn't sustainable. Sure, you can lose a good chunk of weight after a week of literally starving yourself, but you'll gain it all back as soon as you start eating properly again.

In other words, fads diets like "Sirtfood" might offer quick ways to lose weight temporarily, but they don't help you stay that way, and they certainly don't promote healthy eating patterns.

lady exercising

If you actually want to lose weight, here's what you do.

Step 1: Calculate your TDEE using a calculator like this one.

Step 2: Eat 250-500 calories below your TDEE.

Step 3: Exercise consistently. The more calories you burn exercising, the more weight you lose (or the more calories you can eat while still losing weight).

Step 4: Hit your goal. Re-calculate your TDEE.

Step 5: Eat at maintenance to remain at your new weight. Keep exercising.

It really is that straightforward. Do the work that meets your specific body's needs, and you can lose the weight. Keep doing the work, and you can keep the weight off. It's not about how you look in a week. It's about how you feel for the rest of your life.

Just remember, there are no secret shortcuts or celebrity magic tricks to getting healthy––despite the promises of wealthy people with personal trainers and unsustainable crash diets.


Adele's Return to Instagram and the Dangers of Praising Weight Loss

Weight fluctuates, and Adele is gorgeous regardless of her size.

Adele is a hot topic on the Internet today, though not because of new music.

The "Rolling in the Deep" singer posted to her Instagram a photo of herself with a large wreath of flowers in celebration of her birthday. She used the post to praise health care workers, but they were hardly the focus of attention. Fans were quick to point out Adele's considerable weight loss. She looks stunning, but the massive reaction raised an issue with how modern society generally responds to weight loss.

There's a lot of concerning implications that can arise with complimenting someone for losing weight, whether directed at a celebrity or a member of your family. First, this reinforces the stereotype that thinner people are inherently more desirable and attractive. There's the false implication that losing weight is synonymous with good health, as well as infinite ways to become thinner dangerously: eating disorders, substance abuse, and dangerous fad diets among them. Praising someone for losing weight, however well-intended, propagates fat shame and implies that individuals are worth most at their thinnest.

Adele has spent her entire career championing plus-size (but actually average-size) women. Before eventually signing to XL, she reportedly had a strict policy for her potential record labels: Under no circumstances would she be encouraged to lose weight. But of course, that hadn't made her immune to negative comments on her body. In 2012, Karl Lagerfeld called the singer "a little too fat." "I've never wanted to look like models on the cover of magazines," Adele responded. "I represent the majority of women and I'm very proud of that."

No matter her size, Adele remains one of the best-selling music artists in the world. Let's leave weight out of the conversation.

TV Lists

Welcome to Genderqueer TV: 5 Non-Binary Characters

Gender identity is complicated. But no matter if a person identifies as "genderfluid," "genderqueer," or "non-binary," we all watch too much TV.

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Public fascination with the British Royal Family inspires Internet fodder ranging from how royal titles are defined to whether or not Meghan Markle ate a pigeon in Morocco.

Recently, at the Duchess' baby shower in New York, she shared that she and Prince Harry plan to raise their child with a "fluid approach to gender" so as to avoid "imposing any stereotypes." Aside from choosing gender-neutral colors for their nursery (they chose white and gray, if you care to know), the couple can take advice from a slew of other celebrity parents raising their children to be gender-neutral. Will Smith, Bryce Dallas Howard, Adele, and Pink have all advocated letting children choose their own gender expression, from clothing and haircut to hobbies and pronouns.

Admittedly, gender identity becomes a quagmire once we acknowledge that gender is a spectrum, with varied experiences being assigned their own terms. More confusing is the fact that many definitions are written by and for social scientists rather than the general public. One large umbrella term is "genderqueer," defined as "a gender which is neither male nor female and may identify as both male and female at one time, as different genders at different times, as no gender at all, or dispute the very idea of only two genders."

No matter if a person identifies as "genderfluid," "genderqueer," or "non-binary," the main message is that two categories of only male and female don't fit everybody. But we might be more familiar with this concept than we think. Here are five genderfluid TV characters you might recognize:

1.Taylor Mason - Billions (Showtime)

asia kate dillo n non-binary Asia Kate Dillon on ShowtimeShowtime

Actor Asia Kate Dillon (Orange Is the New Black) is vocal about her own non-binary identity. After accepting the part of the first non-binary character in American TV, Dillon was nominated for a Critics' Choice Award for best supporting actor. The 33-year-old actor notes, "Sometimes you have to see the thing to know that it exists. Maybe there's a queer person in a town but they don't feel comfortable or safe coming out, frankly, and the only representation they feel that they have or connection they have is on television or in a movie, and that's really powerful."

2. Susie Putnam - Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix)

Lachlan Watson as Susie PutnamTeen Vogue

Lachlan Watson is the non-binary actor who plays Susie Putnam. Watson told Teen Vogue, "I think that [Susie being a trans man] was originally the concept for the character, but I think in bringing me on board and having me talk about my own identity, I think it may have swayed the writers just a little bit to maybe hold off on labeling or defining [Susie] just yet." The 17-year-old added, "I think that's been very nice to be able to almost tell my own story through Susie a little bit."

3. Yael Baron - Degrassi: Next Class (Netflix)

Jamie Bloch as Yael on DegrassiNetflix

Played by Jamie Bloch, Yael Baron comes out as non-binary in season 4. Bloch is not non-binary herself, but the show's executive producer Stephen Stohn spoke about the show's interest in gender fluidity to EW: "It's an ongoing story. We've seen it in America… With [more] people coming out as transgender, the whole discussion has really changed over the years and there's confusion out there about what [being gender fluid] is. And not just it, there's a whole bunch of different variations. The scene I actually like the most is not one that Yael is in. It's one where all their friends are expressing their own confusion about their gender: "Do I say 'they'? Or do I not say 'they'?" And they're using the terms incorrectly and they're sort of correcting each other. That's the way we and our young audiences all are. We know there's something out there that's different and we want to be supportive. But we can get confused about it."

4. Sam - Vida (Starz)

Michelle Badillo plays Sam on VidaIMDB

Vida's creator and showrunner is proud that the series features four queer women. She told Vulture, "This is our chance to have a femme queer girl have sex with a nonbinary, gender nonconforming person and see what that looks like." She praised the role of Sam, played by Michelle Badillo, "When you first see Sam, you don't know if they're male or female, and then we see the breasts, and then we see them be on bottom — not on top, like you would think. All of these moments were workshopped and everyone went around the room and shared their experiences. It was a lively few days making it as authentic as possible."

5. Sadie - Good Girls (NBC)

Izzy Stannard plays Sadie NBC

Jenna Bans, the show's creator, originally wrote the role of Sadie as a boy named Ben. At the casting director's suggestion, they chose Izzy Stannard for the part, a young actor who identified as female at the time of casting. Shortly after filming began, Stannard clarified that he identified as a boy. Bans told Variety, "We realized we had a really great opportunity to tell a story about a character who was gender non-conforming, but at the same time not necessarily have that be what leads the story." Instead, Sadie's storyline revolve around Sadie and her mother (Mae Whitman). "We liked the idea that the character of Sadie was exploring her gender [expression] in the show," Bans said, "but I think what we responded to more was that the Mae Whitman's character just couldn't care less."

Meg Hanson is a Brooklyn-based writer, teacher and jaywalker. Find Meg at her website and on Twitter @megsoyung.

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Why is Dua Lipa So Famous?

She's a two-time Grammy-winner and a feminist icon. But why?


In 2017, Dua Lipa was the world's most streamed female artist on Spotify — beating out titans like Ariana Grande, Adele, and Beyoncé.

Her self-titled album has reached 2.5 billion streams on the platform, with the single New Rules becoming the second song by a female artist to ever crack a billion streams. The 23-year-old has collaborated with some of music production's biggest names, and she won five Brit awards in 2018. This year she took the Grammys by storm, putting on a steamy display of bob-on-bob sexual tension with St. Vincent, and subsequently winning the Grammy for Best New Artist.

The 61st Annual Grammy Awards

But how did she get so extraordinarily famous so quickly?

The Kosovo-British singer, whose real name is actually Dua Lipa, comes from a family of hardworking Albanian academics, whom she has said inspired her industrious work ethic. She moved to London at age fifteen to pursue music, and began her career by uploading songs to SoundCloud. After a failed attempt at modeling and a stint on an X-factor ad, she was noticed by Lana Del Rey's manager Ben Mawson and was signed by Warner Music. From there it was relatively smooth sailing to the top of the charts.

Many reviewers have attributed her popularity to her feminist convictions, calling her an outspoken voice for women. She has dropped a fair number of pointed comments about sexism, bashing festivals that overwhelmingly favor male performers and calling out shady record industry executives.

61st Annual Grammy Awards, Press Room, Los Angeles, USA - 10 Feb 2019 Image via

But compared to women like Beyoncé, who's headlining sets at the Super Bowl and Coachella sent sound waves around the globe and whose visual album Lemonade became an instant classic, and Cardi B, whose ascension to rap royalty had a Cinderella-esque narrative and whose political statements have gained recognition from Bernie Sanders, Lipa's music and messages don't seem quite as nuanced or as poised to spark massive change.

Instead, Lipa has made it to the top without the high drama and celebrity cults that surround artists like Ariana Grande, without Rihanna's decades-long tradition of hit-making, or Lady Gaga's fashion statements, social convictions, and Hollywood endeavors. She's kind of like a Mona Lisa of pop artists, admittedly well-crafted but somewhat mysterious in terms of her popularity, perhaps merely generic enough to function as a blank canvas on which observers can project whatever they want to see. She's outspoken without being controversial. In short, she's an ordinary prototype of an extraordinarily successful popstar.

Image via

Still, with great power comes great responsibility. Lipa told the Guardian that some of her fans told her they'd not only ghosted their problematic exes after listening to New Rules, but also all of the other men in their lives, including their fathers and brothers. The way that one song catalyzed such extreme actions shows how Dua Lipa's music has the ability to actually change lives (though the jury's still out on whether that change is for better or for worse).

As the popstar of the moment, Lipa has a tremendous platform and a unique chance to hear whatever she says amplified on a massive scale. Tentatively, she's begun to speak out about meaningful political themes; in one interview with NME, she attacked xenophobia by saying that "no refugee leaves their country without having to," and denounced Donald Trump in the same interview.

But ultimately, her popularity is probably due to the simple fact that her songs are straight-up earworms. On New Rules, her contralto voice makes the song what it is: a satisfying breakup anthem for the Tinder era, with an aesthetically pleasing, all-girl sleepover-dance party music video to match. Still, like most of her other songs, New Rules can't really be called a true feminist anthem, as overcoming oppressive gender realities is not really as simple as just not answering calls. (If only the patriarchy could be defeated by good old-fashioned ghosting).

Dua Lipa - New Rules (Official Music Video)

Like it or not, it seems that a combination of talent, hard work, and luck have alchemized Dua Lipa into one of our biggest pop stars. The world is listening; now it's up to her to decide what she wants to say.

Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician. Follow her on Twitter at @edenarielmusic.

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