"Seven Circles": Appreciation or Appropriation?
Dominique Daye Hunter
Released on January 18th, 2019, Arianna Grande's "Seven Circles" has been creating a fire storm of opinion over the last four days.
Some see Grande's newest release as an appreciation for Black pop culture. Others are uncomfortable with Grande wearing Black culture as a costume and are calling it out as appropriation.
Here are seven reasons "Seven Rings" echoes cultural appropriation:
1. She is a white woman glamorizing black poverty.
"Breakfast at Tiffanys and bottles of bubbles" are the lyrics Grande sings...just after hearing police sirens and helicopters. Who has the nerve to say "Whoever said money can't solve your problems, must not have had enough money to solve them" as they literally exploit poor black people's experience for profit?? Arianna Grande: THAT's who. She also freely uses African American vernacular English (AAVE) aka Ebonics.
2. She underminds the discrimination and self-hate that curly hair black girls have to face.
"You like my hair. Gee thanks just bought it." Arianna: you can wear a wig or extensions. No one is judging you for that. But girl, you are Italian. You'll never understand the struggles 3a-c and 4a-c girls go through. So pretending that you can relate while also make a cheeky comment without understanding the pain of having Euro-centric standards shoved down your throat and prevent you from professional opportunities? Just no.
3. She tokenizes black womxn in her video as accessories.
And the white womxn in the video are also wearing black culture like a costume.
4. Comparing before and after photos, it's clear that there's a level of black face going on.
Most people who just recently learned about Grande thought she was Hispanic or mixed based on her new look. She has overused tanner in the past several years to acheive darker skin, enlarged her lips, and, as the song prompts, wears weave or wigs. All features that black people are demeaned for having.
5. The song is a bite from black artists.
2 Chainz "Spend I," Soulja Boy's rap flow and "Pretty Boy Swag", and Princess Nokia's "Mine": these are a few of Grande's favorite things... to plagiarize. Listen to the mashup and determine for yourself.
6. Just when you thought this couldn't be a bigger rip off, the music video idea is stolen, too.
2Chainz actually threatened to sue Grande for the bite of his song "Spend It" and the concept of the house from his very own "Pink Trap House" that he created for his music video "Pretty Girls Like Trap Music." Afterward he converted it to a community meeting place and health center before it was closed down.
2 Chainz was included as the featured artist on the "Seven Rings" remix. Some speculate that he was added to avoid a law suit.
There is a thin line between appreciation and appropriation. If Grande truly wanted to show appreciation for Black culture, she would have written an original piece in collaboration with and giving credit to a Black artist from the start. She could also, oh I don't know, invest back into the community she's profiting off of. Oh, and also, she would stop wearing black face.
Dominique (Black, Sappony/Irish/Polish descent) is a poet/spoken word/hiphop artist, short story writer, clothing line boss babe, + aspiring recreational therapist. She is also the co-founder of Indigenous Womxn In Solidarity Empowered + Rising. She is currently working on her B.S. in Nonprofit Leadership Management with an emphasis in American Indian Studies, and lives between the southeast + southwestern U.S.