You may (or may not) have heard about the ongoing war of words started (inadvertently) by Giuliana Rancic on E!’s Fashion Police.

The comment that sparked it all was in reference to Zendaya (if you don’t know who she is, don’t worry. I didn’t until the show) and her wearing her hair in dreadlocks to the Academy Awards. Here’s Zendaya and her dreads:

87th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals[source]

And here’s the clip that sparked the whole she-bang (Giuliana’s comment is around 1:20)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0GI6G13uLo

Yes, is the reference to patchouli and weed slightly snarky? Sure. Do I think it was racist? No.

Here’s why:

(1) Equating Dreadlocks with Weed is Not a Black Thing

  • To be honest, when I see dreadlocks of the size that Zendaya had, I usually think first hippies and then of Rastafarians. And when I say hippies, this is what I mean:

Dreads CollageImage 1 //  Image 2 // Image 3

  • Additionally, one of the world’s most well known Rastafarians (and one of my personal favorite musical artists) is Bob Marley. If you don’t know the entire basis behind Rastafarianism, you can read more here. And, in case,for some unknown reason, you don’t know who Bob Marley is, here ya go:

Bob-MarleyImage

  • Further, my Jamaican relatives (which I will talk more about below) sent my hubby and I a rasta hat for our puppy. We put it on her and made jokes about her doing pot. Is that racist?

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 12.20.04 PM

  • And this is coming from someone who finds dreadlocks attractive. There was a VERY good looking gentleman on Family Feud the other night who had dreads, and I made sure to remark to my hubby just how attractive I found him.

 

The second reason I think people are WAY overreacting is because –

(2) Fashion Police is Known For Being Offensive

  • I’m not excusing anyone or saying they are allowed to say whatever they feel like, but come on now.
  • We don’t watch Fashion Police because it’s calm, quiet, and pulled together in their assessment of the fashion of the week.
  • We watch it because it is known for its outrageous comments and offensive commentary. This goes back to the days of Joan Rivers (God rest her amazing soul).
  • She made TONS of offensive jokes, including mocking pedophile Jerry Sandusky, comparing someone’s outfit to Whitney Houston’s untimely death and, in one of her most famous comments, saying of Heidi Klum’s outfit that, “The last time a German looked this hot was when they were pushing Jews into the ovens.” [source]
  • People always got mad at Joan too for these comments, but she kept right on saying them because that was her and that was how she was. She didn’t give two shits about who she offended.
  • She also often mocked herself (which Giuiliana has done as well)

And now, there has been Giuliana’s apology and the fact that Kelly Osbourne is now leaving the show over the comment.

Both of these make me shake my head. If you’re going to be a comedian on Fashion Police, then hold to your guns and stick with your comment. Do you think Kathy Griffin or Joan would have apologized? Hell to the no. And second, Kelly leaving makes the comment LOOK like it was racism, thus giving it more power than it should ever have had.

I am not saying racism doesn’t exist in this world (see, Eric Garner, Mobama as an “Angry Black Woman” and the NYT critique of Viola Davis in How to Get Away with Murder just to name a few), but we also need to make sure that we are calling out racism where it actually exists. Otherwise, the impact of labeling something with that term loses out on its full effect.

And I want to say two things before people get up in arms over this post.

First, I do understand that there can be racial undertones when it comes to remarking on a black woman’s hair. And there are times when I think it would be straight up racism and offensive. I know that the relationship between black women and their hair is much different than for women in most other races. However, this comment is not one of those times of racism.

Second, though I know my picture looks like I am super Whitey McWhiterson, I actually come from a blended background. My mother was born and raised in Jamaica and many of my family members are black. My mom even has hair that trends to the curly, thick, wiry Afro-Caribbean type, whereas I was born with super thin blonde hair. So my commenting on this issue isn’t me being some white girl commenting from atop her white privilege about something I know nothing about.

So what are your thoughts on this whole issue? Share them in the comments below!