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Laverne Cox opens up about cultural appropriation and Amandla Stenberg

Laverne Cox has Amandla Stenberg’s back.

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The 16-year-old Hunger Games star has long been an outspoken critic of appropriation of black culture by white women, most recently when she slammed Kylie Jenner for wearing her hair in cornrows.

Cox, as a black and trans woman, has plenty to add to the discussion, but she’s largely stayed quiet until now.

In a long post to her Tumblr, Cox shares her own thoughts about cultural appropriation, as well as why she’s stayed out of the debate until now.

“Whenever I have spoken up and out about issues that are important to me I have tried to do so in ways that illuminate the discussion, put it in historic and cultural perspective with love, empathy and understanding,” she writes. “I have never been interested in interpersonal attacks, feuds or ‘checking’ individuals publicly. Whether people perceive my work in that way or not, my intention is always to have conversations with love, empathy, nuance and understanding.”

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She goes on to give a nod to a viral video created by Stenberg for a high school class. The video highlights the history of cultural appropriation, ultimately asking the question, “What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?”

Cox continues, “For me this is the question at the heart of the discussion about cultural appropriation. What of the people whose culture is being mined for the ingredients that can be used in mainstream contexts to spice up the otherwise familiar recipes?”

And Cox hopes her words will inspire others to speak out, listen and learn about appropriation.

“I am writing this in the hopes of continuing a dialogue about this issue in a loving, empathetic way that is not about individual attacks but about individual accountability,” she says. “I always hope we can celebrate cultural differences without erasing those from whom the culture originates.”

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Cox’s post is long, but well worth a read. Check out the full text here and then head down to the comments and tell us what you think.

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