Zendaya Coleman gracefully accepted Giuliana Rancic’s apology for making seemingly racist, but just mostly offensive jokes about her faux locs hairstyle at the Oscars. If we’ve learned anything from the Rancic’s gaffe, it’s that people who don’t know ish about Black aesthetics, vernacular, culture and/or historical sources of tension shouldn’t be making commentary on these things in the first place.
This point isn’t limited to Black fashion trends. I would even go as far to say that anyone with a career in media (especially people that are frequently on camera and have a wide, public audience) need to educate themselves on the histories of ethnic communities.
Just a few days ago, an anchorwoman repeatedly used the word “jigaboo” on live television to make fun of Lady Gaga’s Oscar performance—without even knowing that it was a racist slur. Being successful in media today means understanding that: one, ethnic cultures (especially Black culture) are increasingly becoming mainstream; two, people of color are increasingly being valued as media consumers; and three, people of color have more venues than ever to respond to and counteract the media/current events they find offensive.
Good for Rancic for apologizing E!. She admitted to being wrong and didn’t try to downplay what she said. Still, it doesn’t undo her disappointingly aloof apology on Twitter when the issue first arose to say: “I’m sorry I offended you” and “This had nothing to do with race and NEVER would.” She clearly didn’t heed Black Twitter’s power in making public figures accountable for the stupid and hurtful things that they say. Besides, despite her intentions (and her ignorance), her foolish commentary had EVERYTHING to do with race. To attribute weed smoking with locked hair is a Black stereotype. Point. Blank. Period.
Rancic is definitely not living this one down. This will just be a notch on the bed posts of White fashion “experts” who will continue to say these mean comments about how women of color look—and they’ll all continue to have careers in spite of this. I have no doubt that we will all be writing more headlines a week from now about another celebrity’s racist comment.
How much has Rancic actually learned from all this? Is she even worth our breath at this point? I’ve worked in media long enough to know that she probably didn’t write that apology herself. Is she going to make this mistake again? My money says yes. Maybe she’ll be smart enough to keep her unsavory comments behind closed doors next time. I’m just grateful that other women throughout Hollywood quickly and forcefully showed their support for Zendaya in her choice to wear her faux locs—not that she needed it. Bad bitches don’t need validation.
I usually shy away from writing about natural hair because it’s an overdone topic, people often invest way too much importance into it, and in fetishizing natural hair, we can get so bent on what natural hair is supposed to look like that it stops being…well…natural. That’s not true for everybody but that sure is why I shaved my afro to go bald a couple months back.
The irony of this story is that I didn’t even like the faux locs on Zendaya for the same reason Rancic didn’t. As much as I love seeing Black women wear locs, the ones Zendaya wore looked oversized for her fine features and her small figure. In any case, just because I don’t like the way something looks on someone, that doesn’t give me the right to spew cruel jokes to express my opinion. It is never that serious. I know people in my network and among my friends and family that don’t find bald Black chicks attractive. But they ride with me just the same—and they’ve never tried to make me feel ashamed for my decision to rock it low and faded. What the hell was Rancic’s excuse?
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