On Giuliana Rancic, Zendaya and White Privilege

On Monday’s episode of “Fashion Police,” Giuliana Rancic decided it would be hilarious to comment on Zendaya’s choice to wear dreadlocks to the Academy Awards, saying “I feel like she smells like patchouli oil and weed.”

You can see Zendaya’s look here. (I’m not tryna get sued for using photos illegally, okay people?)

Before we go any further, let’s chat about white privilege. To make it easy on both of us, the BEST resource for understanding white privilege is Peggy McIntosh’s, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. I’m SO thankful to the my favorite professor at A&M for introducing it to me (I’m looking at you, Dr. Brown) because it’s such a tangible way to look at white privilege. If you’re unfamiliar, I HIGHLY encourage you to take the time to read it – it’s mostly a list so just pretend like it’s a buzzfeed article or something.
If you’re super crunched for time, basically McIntosh analyzes her own daily life to figure out how she benefits from white privilege. Here are a few examples:
  •  I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
  •  I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.
  •  I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty, or the illiteracy of my race.
  •  I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to “the person in charge,” I will be facing a person of my race.
Make sense? Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s move on.
After that nasty comment from Rancic, Zendaya responded in the most eloquent, beautiful way….especially since she’s only 18 years old.
zendaya response
via instagram.com/zendaya
I don’t even want to know how I would’ve responded if I was 18 years old. There probably would’ve been a lot of caps lock or emojis or something. Also hashtags. (Maybe that’s how I would respond now….)
No one is upset Rancic didn’t like Zendaya’s look. We’ve all seen “Fashion Police” before, it’s what they do. The problem is the language that was used and the insensitive racial undertones that were present. I’m sure Rancic thought her comment was hilarious and “all in good fun” (hey, white privilege). Because guess what – no one would say that about Rancic….because she’s white. Just like she didn’t say that about Kylie Jenner’s “edgy” look a few weeks ago.
Ransic said something terrible. Pretty much everyone is pissed about it, and rightfully so. But you know what she did right? She apologized. It would’ve been easy for her to fight this, or give a fake “I didn’t now what I was saying” apology, but she didn’t. Instead she said this

“It is not my intent that matters, it’s the result.”

I can’t even begin to express to you how much this resonated with me. How many times have I unknowingly said something offensive? More than I would like to admit or probably even know about. It’s easy to just give ourselves a pass (because, you know, white privilege) and move on. Let’s not do this, y’all. Instead, figure out why it offended that person (if it’s a friend, ASK) and apologize. LISTEN. Don’t make excuses. Don’t shift the blame. Apologize and learn from it. Don’t do it again. Become more conscious of what you say.
I’m going to keep messing up. And I know I have some great friends who are people of color that will call me out when I do. Yeah it’s going to sting a bit, but it’s part of owning up to my white privilege and becoming a better person for it.
The hardest but most important part of being a white ally is listening. And listening means recognizing you’re wrong and taking people’s concerns seriously. Let’s all agree to just listen a little better and be more careful with what we say, okay loves?
xoxo
Valery

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