September 2nd, 2020 – Hellllllllllloooo, it’s Adele (wearing a Jamaican flag bikini top, yellow feathers, and her hair in Bantu knots). The Grammy award-winning singer caused quite the uproar over the weekend after posting a photo of herself on Instagram wearing Caribbean garb in celebration of this year’s (online) Notting Hill Carnival.
“Happy what would be Notting Hill Carnival my beloved London 🇬🇧🇯🇲” she wrote in the caption.
The post is still garnering plenty of attention days later as it now has over five million likes and nearly 130,000 comments.
The first Notting Hill Carnival was organized by activist Rhaune Laslett in 1966 and aimed to celebrate Caribbean culture while also bringing together a diverse community. Understanding the intent of the carnival and Adele’s local connection to the event, many people were quick to defend her outfit and hairstyle.
London politician David Lammy took to Twitter to defend Adele saying she was participating in the true spirit of the event.
Poppycock! This humbug totally misses the spirit of Notting Hill Carnival and the tradition of “ dress up” or “ masquerade” Adele was born and raised in Tottenham she gets it more than most. Thank you Adele. Forget the Haters. https://t.co/sabpPPRtID
Several people weren’t giving any air to the defense of a white woman wearing Bantu knots. While the entire outfit was criticized by some, it was the choice of a traditional Black hairstyle — which often makes Black people who wear them targets for discrimination and violence — that really became the focal point on Adele.
Non-Black people need to stop wearing historically black hairstyles for fun. Simply out of respect for the fact that we still to this day are mocked-shamed-targeted and killed for wearing those styles.
Twice this weekend I have seen people do backflips to defend white women in Bantu Knots. If you spent the whole summer posting #blacklivesmatter and don’t see the problem here, you were lying the whole time.
Adding another layer into the conversation was Maiysha Kai, Managing Editor of The Glow Up for The Root, who questioned why we move the line for certain people and quickly condemn others when it comes to cultural appropriation. Kai acknowledged that Adele is usually in the category of least problematic, favorite white artists who generally understands the nuances of appropriation, given her style of work.
However, this time around, she believes that Adele missed the mark and we should be OK in calling her out the same way we would any other public figure who may not be as beloved.
“Let’s be honest: If this were a Kardashian, there’d be far less debate and much more vitriol,” Kai wrote. “Should Adele be exempt from the same critiques simply because she has a widely recognized and more highly respected talent?”
“While we don’t believe Adele is anti-Black (far from it, in fact), we do think it’s fair to observe her choice to wear this hairstyle through the lens of those who haven’t been able to do so as freely. If Black people wearing hairstyles indigenous to their heritage are regularly deemed inappropriate, surely Adele can weather a bit of the same criticism? (We have a feeling she’ll be just fine—and we’ll likely still buy the next album, so there’s that.)”
Do you think Adele’s Bantu knots and Caribbean outfit were an appropriate celebration for the carnival or a clear no-go as a white woman?