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Sydney N. Sweeney

Because that shit is more than just ugly. It’s racist — and proves that Bieber’s “allyship” is performative. Gasp!

A photograph of the backside of Justin Bieber showcases his two dreadlocks, tied into two pigtails. He’s wearing a football jersey.
A photograph of the backside of Justin Bieber showcases his two dreadlocks, tied into two pigtails. He’s wearing a football jersey.
Justin Bieber in his new dreadlocks.

And I’m over it — over it enough, in fact, to finally write a little something about it.

So here I go.

Nobody ever said cultural appropriation was an easy concept to understand. But it is easier to wrap your head around if you do the work and read about it, talk to some people about…


In the early 2000s, the brains behind Barbie debuted a new line of hip-hop- and Black-culture-inspired fashion dolls called Flavas. The verdict? They were problematic (and swiftly discontinued after a year of poor sales). Their legacy? Not entirely tainted, thanks to none other than U.K. R&B legend Craig David.

A photo of Craig David photoshopped over a photo of four of the Flavas dolls.
A photo of Craig David photoshopped over a photo of four of the Flavas dolls.


Signed with RCA Records, former Fifth Harmony multihyphenate Normani has enough star power to blow today’s one-dimensional pop newcomers right out of the water. The problem: she has very little music to prove it. #FreeNormani (lol)

Normani.

I’m obsessed with Normani Hamilton for a simple reason: she’s a young, black female performer who sparkles with more multidisciplinary star power than any other solo pop act I’ve seen rise to celebrity over the past half-decade or so. I am not only willing to die on this hill, but fight for it. So if you plan to argue with me about this — which I highly encourage you do, since I love a frenzied, yet friendly music debate — first do your homework and check out some of her strongest performances. They do not disappoint.

But, I already digress…


Photo courtesy of MGA Entertainment.

Almost twenty years later, the iconic toy brand’s biggest fans are now grown-up it-girls and IG baddies living their #bestlives — not only are these women pulling Y2K fashion and beauty inspiration from the fashion dolls’ aesthetic nostalgia, but also the inclusive, girl-powered ethos and bad-bitch attitude best embodied within the brand’s multimedia empire.


Echo Park Lake. Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation.

A rejected essay submission specially written for the L.A. Affairs column of the Los Angeles Times.

“Just so you know,” I said to him the next day, “you’ve still treated me better than any other guy.”

And that was the truth. …

Sydney N. Sweeney

Sydney N. Sweeney is a writer, editor, and critic based in Los Angeles. Her work focuses on culture, music, youth, and sometimes, love.

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