Where’s the line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation? It's an old debate that’s turning into a fresh feud on Instagram after Adele shared what’s proven to be a controversial post.
On Sunday, the “Hello” singer shared a photo of herself as a tribute to the Notting Hill Carnival, an annual festival in west London that's gone virtual this year. The event celebrates Caribbean culture and racial tolerance, and it traditionally draws around 1 million attendees each year.
Adele's much-debated Instagram photo showed the 32-year-old wearing a Jamaican flag bikini top, a feathered collar and her hair in Bantu knots, an African hairstyle. She captioned the photo, "Happy what would be Notting Hill Carnival my beloved London" alongside the U.K. and Jamaican flag emojis.
It wasn’t her regrets about the canceled parade that caught people's eyes, though. The 86,000 comments that followed were largely about her choice of festival wear, especially her hair.
“Seriously Adele. Cultural appropriation. You should know better,” one commenter wrote.
Another added, “You took it too far with the Bantu knots…”
“This is disgusting and disrespectful," commented a third.
But lots of people stuck up for the singer, too.
“Love this!! I am Jamaican and we are not mad at all!” wrote one fan.
“This is APPRECIATION. She is at a JAMAICAN carnival,” another said. “This isn’t her everyday look. Her style, accent, music and everything have zero Black appropriation. She does not (use) the culture to further her career and never has. Know. The. Difference.”
Another chimed in: “As an American of Jamaican parents this is hilarious. Big up Adele, you are killing it! Everyone needs to relax she’s living her life to the fullest and trying to appreciate the Island’s culture.”
As the appropriation-versus-appreciation comments continued to stream in, other perspectives got added to the mix.
One Instagram user said they saw Adele's post as a teachable moment more than anything else.
“This is most definitely cultural appreciation, but let’s not use Adele’s Carnival outfit as a reason to cause more division between us when there’s enough already,” the individual wrote. “Educate people instead of mocking them.”
Another suggested that Adele should've used her social media to draw attention the community that the Notting Hill Carnival celebrates.
“We can agree to disagree on whether this was cultural appropriation (personally I think it is),” the person commented. “But MORE IMPORTANTLY, she could have used this as an opportunity to highlight actual Black Jamaican people and Jamaican beauty! Not her own.”
Spokespeople for Adele did not immediately respond to TODAY's request for comment.