These days, there is no escaping conversations about race and racism. We are a nation both divided and built on the differences among us. Many of us are acutely aware of the hierarchy that persists in our country: one that has spawned the need for a movement to remind everyone else that Black lives matter and to demand that Hollywood — an industry that is so crucial to public perceptions of race — do better. And yet, for all of our obsession with race, we still dance around certain topics and words (no, not that one) that might be considered too divisive or insensitive. Fortunately for us, Zoë Kravitz is not one of those people.
As Allure magazine’s June cover star, the young actress didn’t hold back on sharing her thoughts on our current political and social climate. “Racism is very real, and white supremacy is going strong,” she told David Denicolo. For all the calls for diversity and blasts on cultural appropriation in and around Hollywood, we rarely see opportunities to call out the source of it all — the widespread and institutionalized practice of prioritizing whiteness. It’s particularly interesting that this honest observation comes from a woman who identifies as “mixed” and acknowledges that she has white family members on both sides of her family — father Lenny "Bae" Kravitz and mother Lisa "Bae" Bonet, who is now married to Jason "Bae" Momoa. However, her biracial identity is precisely what led to Kravitz’s views on race.
“The older I get, the more I experience life, I am identifying more and more with being Black, and what that means — being more and more proud of that and feeling connected to my roots and my history,” she told Denicolo. So why wasn’t this always the case? Kravitz shared, “I went to private schools full of white kids. I think a lot of that made me want to blend in or not be looked at as Black. The white kids are always talking about your hair and making you feel weird.” The pressure for a high schooler to lean away from her Blackness in order to fit in is not only a manifestation of white supremacy, but also an example of how early it is accepted and reinforced.
Kravitz — whose character Bonnie is whitewashed on Big Little Lies — had to unlearn some of that conditioning to get to the place she is now. She told the magazine, “now I’m so in love with my culture and so proud to be Black. It’s still ongoing, but a big shift has occurred.” We have her dad, Lenny, to thank for that as well. “My dad especially has always been very connected to his history, and it’s important to him that I understand where I come from.” Like we needed another reason to love this family.
As one of Hollywood's rising stars, it's nice to see that Kravitz isn't holding any punches when it comes to speaking her mind on tough subjects.