Gabrielle Union Didn't School Lena Dunham On Race, But She Did Teach Her A Major Lesson

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images.
Before we delve into this story, we need to take a step back to the distant days of...2016 (we know, we don't like thinking about last year either). Lena Dunham attended that 2016 Met Gala as a guest of Jenna Lyons and J.Crew. She wore a black tuxedo with giant black glasses. And in a subsequent interview with Amy Schumer, for her site Lenny Letter, Dunham described feeling like a "marshmallow" because basketball player Odell Beckham, Jr. didn't pay attention to her.
"It was like he looked at me and he determined I was not the shape of a woman by his standards. He was like, 'That’s a marshmallow. That’s a child. That’s a dog.' It wasn’t mean — he just seemed confused. The vibe was very much like, 'Do I want to fuck it? Is it wearing a...yep, it’s wearing a tuxedo. I’m going to go back to my cell phone.' It was like we were forced to be together and he literally was scrolling Instagram rather than have to look at a woman in a bow tie."
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Yep, not one of Dunham's finest moments.
She later apologized to Beckham, Jr., writing that her thoughts came out of self-doubt. That doesn't excuse the blatant white privilege she displayed in that moment.
And now, in an interview with Gabrielle Union for Lenny Letter, the two friends (yes, they are friends) discuss the politics of that moment. Union spoke with Dunham about that incident at the time, but now we are hearing more of that conversation.
"When I said my incredibly dumb shit, you were a friend. You were really straight with me, and you said, "Here are all the reasons why this was a problem." Something you didn't have to do but did out of love and kindness, and you did it with a firm, wise hand," Dunham says to Union, clearly appreciating the emotional labor that Union performed.
Union's reply is that Dunham, too, is a good friend. "You went out of your way to be a good friend to me in so many ways, that because they're so personal to us, I couldn't be like, "Out of all you motherfuckers who've been through fertility issues, and had womb issues, no one fucking shared information or resources, but [you] did. If we can have such personal conversations about our uteruses...why isn't our friendship big enough to have an honest conversation about race, culture, appropriation, privilege? I felt like if I can talk about my pussy with you, I can talk about race."
We can't count all the reasons we love Gabrielle Union, but this is certainly up there.
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