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It’s Time To Call Out Kesha’s Cultural Appropriation – Arts + Culture

Now Reading: It’s Time To Call Out Kesha’s Cultural Appropriation


It’s Time To Call Out Kesha’s Cultural Appropriation

July 9, 20178 min read

After about four years, Kesha made a huge comeback with her new song and music video: “Praying”. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely love Kesha, but it’s time we call out her cultural appropriation. For those who are unfamiliar with the term or are unclear of its meaning, cultural appropriation is, “the adoption or use of the elements of one culture by members of another culture. Cultural appropriation, often framed as cultural misappropriation, is sometimes portrayed as harmful and is claimed to be a violation of the collective intellectual property rights of the originating culture.” Kesha has appropriated Native American culture, African American culture, and Indian culture numerous times in her music videos, has been called out dozens of times before, but simply has not learned from her mistakes.

Native American Culture

All of Kesha’s cultural appropriation began in 2010 with her music video for “Your Love Is My Drug”. In this video, Kesha uses traditional Native American dress such as a headdress, feathers, warpaint, an excessive amount of Native jewelry and traditional paint to convey the state of a psychedelic groupie crazily in love. The severe issue with this is that she’s incorrectly portraying that all Native Americans are crazed psychedelic groupies desperately searching for love. Also, not all Native Americans dress as traditionally as she presents in the video. A Native American forum discussing Native American cultural appropriation ( seems to agree in this matter that Kesha incorrectly portrayed their culture without being an authority. They provide their input on non-Natives wearing headdresses…

The image of a warbonnet and warpaint wearing Indian is one that has been created and      perpetuated by Hollywood and only bears minimal resemblance to traditional regalia of Plains tribes. It furthers the stereotype that Native peoples are one monolithic culture, when in fact there are 500+ distinct tribes with their own cultures. It also places Native people in the historic past, as something that cannot exist in modern society. We don’t walk around in ceremonial attire everyday, but we still exist and are still Native.

These are some stills from Kesha’s Your Love Is My Drug video.

Images via KeshaVEVO on YouTube

African American Culture

Kesha’s appropriation of African American culture was in 2013 with her music video for Crazy Kids. As I’m not an authority on this subject my friend and fellow writer Rihanna Martin, an authority on this subject, provided her opinion on Kesha’s appropriation of African American culture.

“Kesha has continued to profit off of her music videos at the expense of people of color. She has appropriated black culture multiple times in the past, like in her Crazy Kids music video, similar to Katy Perry’s portrayal of black culture in This Is How We Do.”

 “Meanwhile black women continue to be demonized by white people for the same attire. Misogynoir is constantly being perpetuated by white women who contribute to double standards in society”

This is one of the outfits Kesha wore in the music video

Images via Huffington Post and Gigwise

Indian Culture

My final point is Kesha’s appropriation of Indian culture in her latest video for “Praying”. Kesha incorrectly mixes Native American culture with the written form of Hindi, which has angered many people on Twitter and other social media sites. After being called out years before this video by Native American forums, Kesha again refuses to learn from her mistakes. In this video, Kesha incorrectly uses Native American dress and incorrectly combines it with Hindi handwriting to resemble ” a peaceful” “I love yoga” “Namaste” type of person. Many people don’t consider to be an issue, but it’s a serious problem in society. As we all know, white people have mistreated and/or enslaved all of the cultures mentioned in this article. For a white artist like Kesha to steal from cultures in which she’s not an authority on, portray them as classic stereotypes, and profit off of false depictions is wrong and disturbing.

These are stills from Kesha’s new video Praying

Images via KeshaVEVO on YouTube

Image via The Fader