In an interview with Allure that was published earlier this week, artist Gwen Stefani made a statement that has sparked a lot of criticism online.
In the interview with Allure says Stefani – who is of American and Italian origin – about her first trip to the Harajuku district in Tokyo. The neighborhood is known for its eclectic clothing stores and later inspired the artist’s perfume brand, Harajuku Lovers.
“I said, ‘Oh my God, I’m Japanese and I didn’t know that,'” says Stefani in the interview.
Declined follow-up interview
According to the editor who interviewed Stefani, American-Filipina Jesa Marie Calaor, the artist repeated the claim about her origins on numerous occasions:
“During spring [32 minuter långa] interview, Stefani claimed twice that she was Japanese and once that she was ‘a little bit of an Orange County girl, a little bit of a Japanese girl, a little bit of an English girl,'” Calaor writes.
At the end of the article, it says that a rep for Stefani got in touch the day after the interview and said that Calaor had misunderstood what the artist had been trying to say. However, they declined to clarify the statements or to participate in a follow-up interview.
The criticism online: “Is not appreciation of culture”
Since the interview was published, several people have reacted strongly to Stefani’s statements.
One person writes the following on Twitter:
“The white culture that means believing you can identify as a person of color just because you like something about that culture. It is not appreciation. It is precisely that theft and destruction that lives at the origin of genocide, disempowerment and colonialism.”
The white culture of thinking you can identify as a Person of Color simply because you like something about that culture.
It is not appreciated.
— YK Hong (@ykhong) January 11, 2023
Another person writes:
“My God, imagine being an Asian-American editor and hearing Gwen Stefani repeat over and over, ‘I’m Japanese.'”
God, imagine being an Asian American editor and hearing @gwenstefani repeat over & over again, “I’m Japanese”
People like Gwen Stefani can adopt all the cool things they want from Asian cultures, yet won’t have to worry about being pushed off a NYC subway platform bc of her race https://t.co/8KQNdaV5IL
— Pao ☀️🌙 (@paostrology) January 11, 2023