This time, he got a ‘corn hawk’. If you’re wondering what that could possibly be, Levine is here to fill you in. He shaved off most of his hair and got three cornrows on the top, like where a mohawk would go, but didn’t.
What did happen, though, was some straight-up cultural appropriation. And with Halloween just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to talk about why this is not okay. And lucky for us, Levine just nominated himself as the perfect case study.
Cultural appropriation is defined as, ““the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.” So basically, every ‘sexy belly dancer’ Halloween costume ever.
The reason that this is so infuriating (besides the blatant ignorance) is because this issue has been brought up countless times by celebrities of color in the last few years alone. How much louder does Amandla Stenberg have to scream, “Don’t cash crop my cornrows” for people to listen and understand her? How many more loc lewks does Zendaya have to serve before fashion commentators understand that the hairstyle doesn’t equate to a smell of ‘weed’ and ‘patchouli’?
The discourse has been going on, but white celebrities still seem to miss the memo. Worse, it’s as if they’re actively trying not to educate themselves on appropriation and how to ensure they don’t do it.
Levine is just another privileged white male to thoughtlessly cop another culture’s style and, consequently, its historical significance. The Trudeau scandal proved that many influential people still have at least one culture crash course to take in order to respectfully represent their constituents or fans.
That last part is what’s so important about this issue: influencers are still committing transgressions against respectful cultural practices, and they have a whole lot of people watching them do it. Levine is a role model for many people– he does have the voice of an angel, after all– and has a responsibility to use his platform respectfully. In the age of social media, artists cannot be separated from their art. Levine’s Instagram brings fans into his personal life, so he needs to wield that influential power responsibly.
Celebrity trends spread like wildfire, so it’s important for Levine not to start a white ‘corn hawk’ 2019 fall look.