Andy Cohen, Laverne Cox apologize to Amandla Stenberg for controversial segment

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On Sunday’s episode of Watch What Happens Live, Andy Cohen tried to wade into the Amandla Stenberg versus Kylie Jenner debate on cultural appropriation, but the backlash against him was so bad that the hashtag #BoycottBravo started trending.

He has since come forward to apologize.

During the segment, Cohen said of Stenberg’s criticism of Kylie Jenner, “Today’s Jackhole goes to the Instagram feud between Kylie Jenner and Hunger Games star/Jaden Smith’s prom date Amandla Stenberg, who criticized Kylie for her cornrows, calling it cultural appropriation.”

Cohen included his guests Laverne Cox and former Vogue Editor-at-Large André Leon Talley in the discussion, posing the question, “white girls in cornrows … is it OK or nay, Laverne and Andre?”

Talley: “To me, it’s fine.”

Cox: “Um…Bo Derek.”

After the swift and unforgiving backlash over his comments, Cohen stepped forward to try to explain himself, saying that he was trying to poke fun at online celebrity feuds and not the topic itself.

“To clarify, I gave the jackhole to an online feud & certainly not to the topic or to any individual. I ironically hate online feuds,” he tweeted out.

He further clarified that he “didn’t understand the larger context of this cultural discussion,” and that he “TRULY meant no disrespect to her or anyone else.”

Laverne Cox, who was also criticized for the segment because she didn’t stand up for Stenberg, also came forward to explain herself: “In that moment, I also felt that the topic of cultural appropriation needs way more than the 10 seconds or less I had to respond at the end of the show to fully unpack.”

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Excerpt from my Tumblr post on Cultural Appropriation I was most moved by the question she (Amandla Stenberg) poses at the end of her video, a question I, too, have asked from lecture stages. "What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?" 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? Far too often culture is appropriated without an understanding of the history and hardships from which that culture emerges. How do we lovingly make people aware of that history and the potential affects of cultural appropriation that further marginalize and stigmatize those already the most adversely affected by systems that disadvantage certain experiences, bodies and identities over others? These are points Amandla makes beautifully in her video. We live in a multi-cultural society where being influenced by cultures different from ours is inevitable. But when the traditions and practices of marginalized communities are used by those in power and the material conditions of those who are marginalized are not changed individually and systemically this is when cultural appropriation is deeply problematic and even potentially exploitative. For the full post go to Lavernecox.tumblr.com link in bio

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