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Summer Walker is being accused of cultural appropriation for wearing traditional Hmong jewelry at the 2022 BET Awards

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Summer Walker posing at the 2022 BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater, California.
Summer Walker wore Hmong jewelry at the 2022 BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater in California.Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET
  • The musician Summer Walker was criticized for her outfit at the 2022 BET Awards on Sunday.

  • Walker wore a look designed by Laurel Street and said it was inspired by traditional Hmong jewelry.

  • The brand apologized via its Instagram stories, writing: "I love to celebrate all cultures."

Summer Walker is facing accusations of cultural appropriation for wearing traditional Hmong jewelry on the red carpet at the 2022 BET Awards on Sunday.

The 26-year-old "No Love" singer wore black-and-gold body jewelry that formed the outline of a bra, with matching gold pasties, designed by Laurel Street, according to an Instagram post shared by the musician on Sunday. Her outfit also included a matching miniskirt, wrist cuffs, and statement earrings.

When sharing the outfit post on Instagram on Sunday, Walker wrote that the look was inspired by traditional Hmong jewelry, referring to the Indigenous community located across Southeast Asia, and credited the Laurel Street brand.

This sparked criticism from some online, who said Walker and Laurel Street were appropriating the items of cultural significance and taking them out of context by sexualizing them, as noted in one of Laurel Street's Instagram stories on Monday.

Walker and representatives for Laurel Street didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider, but the brand did use Instagram to address its intentions and apologize.

Summer Walker posing at the 2022 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater, California.
Walker on the red carpet at the 2022 BET Awards.Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images for BET

In a statement shared on Lauren Street's Instagram story on Monday, Charleene Rena Al-Chamaa, the founder of the jewelry brand wrote: "I am of South Asian heritage I understand we should have mentioned the beautiful Hmong culture, these are archived Hmong pieces."

The designer added that she customized the original designs with quartz and didn't intend to offend anyone.

Hmong villager Lo Thi May makes embroidery patterns in Mu Cang Chai district, Yen Bai province, Vietnam.
A Hmong villager, Lo Thi May, wearing traditional jewelry while making embroidery patterns in the Mu Cang Chai district of Vietnam's Yen Bai province.AP Photo/Hau Dinh

"I love to celebrate all cultures, diversity and sometimes try to switch the narrative through pieces," the statement said, going on to apologize for "not sharing and educating on the history of the Hmong people."

The statement concluded: "Summer Walker is a living breathing goddess, it was not our intention to sexualise these pieces but more a celebration of life and the beauty of women."

According to the Hmong Daily News, the Hmong wore a silver necklace known as a xauv, which means "lock," for centuries as a means of identification when they were captured and enslaved by the Chinese centuries ago. In a modern context, the xauv is used to accessorize traditional Hmong clothing and serves as a reminder of the community's enslavement and freedom.

The red-carpet moment came hours after Walker announced on Instagram live that she was pregnant with her second child, her first from her current relationship with LVRD Pharoh, People reported. The publication added that she also has a 1-year-old daughter, Bubbles, with the producer London on Da Track.

"People asking me if I'm pregnant," she said in the Instagram announcement, according to People. "I am and you know I'm very, very, very, very happy about it."

Walker said she's "very excited about it," adding: "It's going to be different from how it was before. It's really peaceful, really happy, lots of help, lots of love."

Read the original article on Insider