Beyonce has been called out for Egyptian cultural appropriation with her spring collection.
The Queen Bey has been channelling ancient Egyptian queen Nefertiti. The 36-year-old mother of three wore crop tops and hoodies plus a headpiece like the one Nefertiti wore. Some Egyptians aren’t happy about it.
One person tweeted: ‘I’m all kinds of mad about Beyonce literally selling herself as Nefertiti. My country’s history and culture has been so brutally commoditized and commercialized and exported to everyone’s satisfaction and convenience for GENERATIONS. I’m not spending a dime on her.’
Others have called her a ‘culture vulture’ and that if any other singer had done something similar, they’d be being dragged for cultural appropriation.
On the other hand, the singer does have her supporters, after all she is Beyonce. This isn’t the first time that Bey’s channelled African culture.
Cultural appropriation is the taking of a culture with the intention of making it one’s own.
Back in 2017, her Grammys performance saw her dressed up as Oshun, the Yoruba deity. She had an African-themed baby shower. She seems to regularly wear outfits that wouldn’t look out of place in Accra or Banana Island.
Beyonce is not the first person to channel Ancient Egypt. Rihanna appeared on the cover of Vogue Arabia ‘paying homage to Nefertiti’ in 2017.
Like Rihanna, Beyonce seems to consistently use her position to champion black culture and history. Consequently, this seems to be a clear example of appreciation rather than appropriation.
Although she came in for a certain amount of criticism too, Rihanna’s photos received slightly less criticism. This is perhaps because she was photographed for a Middle Eastern magazine, rather than for American audiences.
Can African-Americans claim African heritage?
Despite the centuries of whitewashing, it’s generally accepted in liberal circles that the Ancient Egyptians were the first great black civilisation.
The Kemet were dark-skinned people who set the ball rolling for useful things like maths.
African-Americans can and do claim African heritage. And surely, if we’re being accurate, shouldn’t African-Americans claim some link to Kemet society – of which Nefertiti was a leading figure?
Photo Credit: Hoi Do