Zendaya Coleman had me feeling all kinds of good yesterday. Not only did she completely slay her look on the Oscar Red Carpet,  but I was truly inspired after reading her response directed at E News personnel Giuliana Rancic’s candid comment about her faux-locs.

imageI thought about cropping Zendaya’s response, or embedding quotes so you got the gist of what this young actress was saying, but I doubt that I could have articulated it any better and felt it imperative that you read all of it. The truth of the matter is, the portrayal of “African-American”, “Afro-Carribean”, “Black” (and whatever else you want to call it) hair is marked with much stigmatism within our society. Hair is no longer molecular strands that grow from our heads. It is used to formulate judgements and stereotypes which, on most occasions, reveal a strong sense of “ignorance.” From our hair, women of colour are labelled as soulful, artistic, impoverished, unkempt or, as in the case of young Miss Coleman, smelling of “weed”. This is not okay!

For a society that claims to be so liberal in our thinking, we mark up poorly when it comes to our mind-set, particularly towards those of a certain race, age and gender. How quick we are to forget that individuals with locs, natural hair, lighter skin, darker skin, youth and other characteristics society disregards, have achieved and influenced change in the past and continue to do so. We are not defined by our physical appearance, but rather by the actions we take.

“I am not my hair. I am not this skin. I am not your expectations. I am the soul that lives within.”

And what is the first step we can do to break down the ignorant stereotypes that  a society based on past colonisation has so effectively built? Zendaya stated it beautifully:

“…Showcase them in a positive light, to remind people of colour that {they are} good enough.”

Okay, I’m coming off my soap-box now. I don’t know about you guys but I will have India Arie’s “I Am Not My Hair” on repeat today!

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AUTHOR: Ama Badu (Senior Online Editor). Find her on Instagram ¦ Twitter ¦Tumblr



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