In August 2020, national treasure, Adele got herself into hot water when she posted a picture on her social media channels, in honour of Notting Hill Carnival. The caption read “Happy what would be Notting Hill Carnival my beloved London.”
Adele accused of cultural appropriation
The hot water was thrown from Black American Twitter, who screamed cultural appropriation because Adele had styled her hair in Bantu knots (a traditional African hairstyle) and sported a Jamaican flag top.
One person commented “Black women are discriminated against for wearing cultural hairstyles like bantu knots and locs but white people are not, that’s not fair and that’s why people are p****d off.”
“Dear white people, please just be yourselves and stop it for good with cultural appropriation. Adele the Bantu knots were unnecessary. The Jamaican flag bikini top was unnecessary… Please just stop it,” another follower wrote.
Black UK Twitter (or “innit Twitter” as the Americans like to call us) and West Indian Twitter, tried to explain why at this particular time, Adele was showing appreciation not appropriation. It got really messy as diaspora wars usually do as Black American’s were called out for trying to be gatekeepers of Black culture even when that culture was not theirs to speak on. The reasons for diaspora wars are many and are a story for another day.
Whilst all this back and forth was happening, it struck me that although many people understood that Notting Hill Carnival is a celebration of Black British culture and an opportunity for everyone to dress up and show appreciation, not many knew the roots of this annual event.
If you want to know the history of Notting Hill Carnival, visit this page.