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Via Adele's Instagram

Adele in the offending outfit and hairstyle

Adele's Notting Hill Carnival Costume Sparks Diaspora Debate

The online reaction to Adele's Bantu knots reveal a divide in the African diaspora over cultural appropriation

When Adele posted a photo of herself wearing a Jamaican flag bikini, Bantu knots and Jamaican-themed costume at the Notting Hill carnival last night, the floodgates opened and we were buried in the deluge of criticism and counter-criticism. The English singer-songwriter's Instagram post has once again kick-started a recurring conversation around cultural appropriation, Black outrage and who gets to participate in Black culture or not.


While many, mostly Black Americans and British-Jamaicans have expressed their disapproval of what they say is cultural appropriation, others particularly Black British people of African immigrant descent and Africans themselves, consider the sentiment to be an overreaction and Adele's costume, completely harmless.

From Africans who don't see a reason why Black people are outraged


To those explaining why it is actually important


To those accusing African-Americans of being hypocrites

And a perspective from a Black-British commenter:


Even a member of parliament chimed in:


Some questions come to mind when considering this conversation and what people are essentially saying.

Is it okay to look away because it is Adele and not say, Kim Kardashian or Bhad Bhabie? Who gets to decide on what direction this sort of outrage should take? Africans living in Africa from where the Bantu knots originated from? British-Jamaicans whose heritage was part of Adele's get-up? Or Black-Americans who have had to deal with years of their hair, when worn naturally, being illegal, termed unprofessional, and forced to fit into mostly white beauty/hair standards to be able succeed in viciously white spaces.

While there are various nuances to this conversation, with different parties putting forth their concerns, displeasure and indifference, it is clear that an overwhelming number of Africans haven't come to terms with the many nuances, histories, daily experiences and traumas that come with being Black in America. We might never fully understand.

A disappointing trail that has followed the outrage being expressed by African-Americans is the absolute disregard of their point of view by Africans. An eagerness to term a people's lived experience as "overactive" when we scarcely understand where they are coming from. Until natural Black hair is accorded the respect, dignity, and visibility it deserves when worn on Black people, it doesn't make sense for it to be given a pass when appropriated by white people.

The fact that laws banning the discrimination of Black hair were just being passed last year should tell us all we need to know about the complicated and unjust dynamics of what it means to wear black hair as a black person in America. And this is far as the news tells us. Black people have either been forced to cut their hair before they can be allowed to perform in certain spaces, or have had to straighten it before they are considered professional or appropriate.

This is the backstory many Africans continue to miss, and a reeducation has to happen if we can find ourselves fit to engage in conversations around African-American cultures and experiences, particularly when it comes to hair. We may not have the range, but we don't have to discredit Black people's outrage because our politics with hair isn't as stringent.

Music
Photo courtesy of AYLØ.

Interview: AYLØ Bridges His Music & Universe In the 'Clairsentience' EP

The Nigerian artist talks about trusting your gut feelings, remedying imposter syndrome and why our identity is best rooted in who we are, rather than what we do.

AYLØ's evolution as an artist has led him to view sensitivity as a gift. As the alté soundscape in the Nigerian scene gains significant traction, his laser focus cuts through the tempting smokescreen of commercial success. AYLØ doesn't make music out of need or habit. It all boils down to the power of feeling. "I know how I can inspire people when I make music, and how music inspires me. Now it's more about the message."

Clairsentience, the title of the Nigerian artist's latest EP, is simply defined as the ability to perceive things clearly. A clairsentient person perceives the world through their emotions. Contrary to popular belief, clairsentience isn't a paranormal sixth sense reserved for the chosen few, our inner child reveals that it's an innate faculty that lives within us before the world told us who to be.

Born in 1994 in Benin City, Nigeria, AYLØ knew he wanted to be a musician since he was six-years-old. Raised against the colorful backdrop of his dad's jazz records and the echoes of church choirs from his mother's vast gospel collections, making music isn't something anyone pushed him towards, it organically came to be. By revisiting his past to reconcile his promising future, he shares that, "Music is about your experiences. You have to live to write shit. Everything adds up to the music."

Our conversation emphasized the importance of trusting your gut feelings, how to remedy imposter syndrome and why our identity is best rooted in who we are, rather than what we do,

This interview has been edited for purposes of brevity and clarity.

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