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Giuliana Rancic Vs. Zendaya's Hair
During the Fashion Police post-Oscar red carpet rundown in February, E! host Giuliana Rancic said that model, singer, and former Disney star Zendaya’s dreadlocks made her look like she smelled of "patchouli" and "weed."
The world didn't take the comments lightly, and the incident instantly blew up in Rancic's face.
The star, then 18, hit back fast and fierce with an eloquent response via posted on Instagram: "There is already harsh criticism of African-American hair in society without the help of ignorant people who choose to judge others based on the curl of their hair. My wearing my hair in locs on an Oscar red carpet was to showcase them in a positive light, to remind people of color that our hair is good enough." She listed a number of respected Black figures who sport dreads. Kerry Washington, Solange Knowles, Khloé Kardashian, and Viola Davis praised the teen for her candor and grace.
Rancic Ate Crow On The Air
A chastised Rancic issued an apology, first on Twitter and then again during Fashion Police. "I learned a lot," she said. But the storm didn't end there. Kelly Osbourne, a friend of Zendaya's, got into a nasty fight with Rancic and quit the show.
Celebrities & Cultural Appropriation
First, Kylie Jenner took heat in February for sporting dreadlocks. White celebs like Cara Delevingne have been seen sporting cornrows left and right. This year, Miley Cyrus was public offender No. 1. She seems to have adopted dreadlocks as her signature look. And it's almost become common practice for pop stars to misuse elements of Black, Japanese, and Native-American cultures, like fashion, beauty, and dance. (See: Katy Perry's music videos.)
Amandla Stenberg's Response
In April, 16-year-old Hunger Games actress (and college professor in the making) Amandla Stenberg spelled out the issue in an impassioned video on Tumblr, titled “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows,” which went viral. "Appropriation occurs when a style leads to racist generalizations or stereotypes where it originated, but is deemed as high-fashion, cool, or funny when the privileged take it for themselves,” she said. Giving an example, she continued, “Hip-hop stems from a Black struggle, it stems from jazz and blues, styles of music which African-Americans created to retain humanity in the face of adversity." At the end, she asks poignantly, "What would America be like if we loved Black people as much as we loved Black culture?” (Zendaya also weighed in this summer.)