Celebrities

10 Celebs Who Have Come Under Fire For Cultural Appropriation

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Michael B. Jordan

The Black Panther star recently celebrated the launch of his J'Ouvert rum, which was advertised as a tribute to a Trinidadian carnival of the same name. But many people online — including Nicki Minaj — took issue with the actor using that name for his product without having any personal ties to the region. On June 22, he announced on his Instagram Stories that he would be changing the name. “We hear you,” he wrote. “I hear you and want to be clear that we are in the process of renaming.”

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Ariana Grande

“There is a difference between appropriation and appreciation,” Grande wrote in series of now-deleted tweets from 2019. At the time, the “Positions” singer was slammed for cultural appropriation while promoting her song “7 Rings.” In addition to using Japanese characters on her merch, the pop star got the song’s title tattooed on her hand. Unfortunately, her ink was misspelled and the result was a tattoo that loosely translated to “BBQ grill.”

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Katy Perry

The “Daisies” singer doesn’t exactly have a clean record when it comes to cultural appropriation. In 2013, Perry dressed up as a geisha at the American Music Awards for a performance of her song “Unconditionally.” The following year, she wore cornrows in her music video for “This Is How We Do.” She later addressed both of those decisions on a podcast with civil rights activist DeRay McKesson. “I didn’t know that I did it wrong until I heard people saying I did it wrong,” she said after promising to educate herself.

Rihanna

“Our culture is not your costume,” one fan commented when Rihanna shared a controversial photo on Instagram in February. In the picture, the pop star was posing in pair of satin boxer shorts from her Savage X Fenty lingerie line. The “Needed Me” singer was also wearing a pendant featuring the Hindu god Ganesha. “Can we stop sexualizing people’s religion for clout,” another frustrated fan wrote.

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Justin Bieber

The “Hold On” crooner first debuted dreadlocks at the IHeartRadio Music Awards in 2016 and was criticized heavily for appropriating Black culture. In 2021, he sported the hairstyle again and was met with more backlash online. “How do you make an album about justice? Post about Black Lives Matter then turn around and post yourself wearing dreads????” one fan commented on Instagram.

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Kim Kardashian

The Keeping Up With the Kardashians star has come under fire for cultural appropriation on more than one occasion — and not only for wearing Fulani braids. Prior to the release of her shapewear line in 2019, the reality star planned on calling the brand Kimono. Needless to say, that didn’t go over very well, and Kardashian renamed it Skims.

Karlie Kloss

Model Karlie Kloss strutted onto the runway at the 2012 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show wearing Native American-inspired lingerie — headdress included. The brand later apologized for featuring the look at their show. “We are sorry that the Native American headdress in our fashion show has upset individuals,” the company said in a statement. “The outfit will be removed from the broadcast.” Kloss issued an apology on Twitter as well.

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Taylor Swift

Swift came under fire in 2014 with the release of her music video for “Shake It Off.” Shortly after it premiered, Twitter slammed the pop icon for mocking Black culture in the scenes where she attempted to twerk alongside her Black backup dancers.

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Beyoncé

Believe it or not, even Beyoncé makes mistakes. In 2016, the legendary entertainer received a ton of backlash following the release of Coldplay’s “Hymn For The Weekend” music video. In the video, Bey sported henna tattoos and traditional Indian clothing.

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Selena Gomez

Beyoncé isn’t the only artist who’s appropriated Indian culture. In 2013, Gomez performed her hit single “Come and Get It” wearing an Indian-inspired outfit on more than one occasion. She also wore a bindi, a dot that is traditionally worn on the center of the forehead.

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