As Black History Month 2015 comes to a close, it is important to reflect and celebrate the accomplishments African Americans have made since last February. The nomination of Loretta Lynch as the first African American female attorney general, the US Postal Service's honoring Maya Angelou with a stamp to recognize her literary contributions and the nomination of Selma for the 2015 Best Picture Academy Award are a few.
Unfortunately, these accomplishments have been somewhat overshadowed by news of Giuliana Rancic, a mainstreamed American "fashion expert," denigrating the standard of beauty in black culture. Celebrities attending the Oscars are known to showcase stunning looks, wearing the latest fashions and introducing new hairstyles at the biggest creative gala of the year. For 18-year-old newcomer Zendaya Coleman was no exception, sporting a fashion forward coiffure of faux locs and an age appropriate gown.
Ms. Rancic suggested that Zendaya smelled like patchouli oil or possibly even cannabis. Twitter and social media blew up in a firestorm because African Americans have been wearing their hair in locs and other beautiful natural hairstyles since the beginning of time. One can just log on to YouTube and find a host of naturalists giving how to tips on beautifully created braids, locs, buns, twist and braid outs.
Frustrating enough to have a beautiful young lady attacked for her choice of hairstyle that is natural to her genetic make-up. Even more disheartening is the number of young women dealing with normal adolescent body image issues who are attacked by self proclaimed, culturally insensitive "experts."
To her credit, Zendaya did a masterful job of checking Giuliana while reminding America of the many successful African Americans who wear their hair in its natural state.
Giuliana Rancic's half-hearted apology, where she insisted she was not referencing race when she made those disparaging comments, reeked of insincerity. Her claim fell on deaf ears of the millions of black Americans who feel pressured to conform to European standards of beauty in order to be accepted into mainstream America. Furthermore, explain why Kylie Jenner was previously praised for wearing that same hairstyle. Giuliana's comments were insensitive, stereotypical and provided an inside clue as to how she views natural hairstyles worn by Africans around the world.
As we end Black History Month, let's celebrate our accomplishments and add to that list an 18-year-old girl who had the confidence and courage to address insensitive, stereotypical remark of ignorance head on.