Taylor Swift Video Prompts Accusations of Racism and Colonialism

Singer Taylor Swift
Singer Taylor Swift arrives at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles, California August 30, 2015. Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

Taylor Swift is facing accusations of racism and "channeling colonialism" following the recent release of her new music video for "Wildest Dreams."

The video, released live at the MTV video music awards on Sunday, has already had over 15 million views on YouTube.

In the video, Swift portrays an actress filming a colonial-era movie on the plains of Africa alongside zebra, lions and a white man. Following its release a number of articles were posted online accusing the video of having colonialist connotations.

Huffington Post's entertainment reporter Lauren Duca wrote wrote that the video "sure felt a lot like some harkening back to white colonialism."

"Instead of the cultural appropriation that has become almost status quo in today's pop music," Duca wrote, "Swift has opted for the bolder option of actually just embodying the political exploitation of a region and its people. It's brave, really."

"Almost as brave as moving sensuously in the vicinity of a real-life lion," she added.

In an essay titled "Taylor Swift Is Dreaming of a Very White Africa" and published on NPR's website, James Arinaitwe and Viviane Rutabingwa, an NGO worker and public health professional both from Uganda, wrote, "We are shocked to think that in 2015, Taylor Swift, her record label and her video production group would think it was OK to film a video that presents a glamorous version of the white colonial fantasy of Africa."

"Taylor Swift is dressed as a colonial-era woman on African soil. With just a few exceptions, the cast in the videothe actors playing her boyfriend and a movie director and his staffall appear to be white."

Arinaitwe and Rutabingwa added that, "The bigger problem is many Americans have never had an African history lesson. So we don't totally blame Taylor Swift, but the people behind the video should have done a little more research. They should have wondered how Africans would react."

Twitter users also hit out at Swift's video, labelling it racist and questioning the romanticization of white Africa.

Taylor Swift is clearly racist and her Wildest Dreams video confirms it. She went to Africa to film it but no black person in sight.

— Marcos (@MarcosCastilloB) September 2, 2015

so taylor went to film wildest dreams in Ethiopia and didn't bother to cast one POC but she's not a racist ok

— ♡ (@bitchofcolour) September 1, 2015

The video was shot in Africa and according to the Huffington Post, the proceeds from the video were donated to the African Park Foundation of America, an organization that aims to manage and preserve protected parkland.

Swift is yet to comment on the controversy, but many fans leapt to her defence on Twitter.

if you think taylor is 'racist' for not having black people in wildest dreams you're reaching so hard and looking for any reason to hate her

— allison ღ (@sojumpthenfall) September 1, 2015