If you happened to tune into E!'s coverage after the Oscars red carpet, you may have heard host Giuliana Rancic's offhanded, borderline racist comment about starlet Zendaya Coleman's hairstyle.
In case you missed out, Zendaya -- born to a black father and white mother -- wore her hair in gorgeous, thick, waist-length dreads.
During her "Fashion Police" commentary, Rancic joked the dreads made the young star look like she “smells like patchouli oil…[or] maybe weed.”
By stereotyping dreadlocks as a hairstyle reserved for Rastafarians and potheads, the host effectively misinterpreted the cultural significance of the hairstyle.
It should also be noted that Rancic once praised Kylie Jenner as “edgy” for wearing her hair in the same style.
Twitter immediately responded with disgust.
So when Kylie Jenner had dreads they were edgy, but Zendaya's look like they smell of weed? And you're not racist? #confused @GiulianaRancic — . (@JackieRue) February 24, 2015
Zendaya Coleman looked beautiful with her dreads. Giuliana Rancic still dwells in the mentality that hair defines who you are. Poor thing. — John Greene (@JAYELOHIM) February 24, 2015
Your racist and xenophobic statement about Zendaya's hair wasn't funny. Try being interesting, for once. Make it a goal. @GiulianaRancic — Trudy (@thetrudz) February 24, 2015
It was Zendaya, however, who explained the problematic nature of Rancic's comments best.
The star took to Twitter to share her thoughts on the host's remark.
pic.twitter.com/q0fOYrv3gc — Zendaya (@Zendaya) February 24, 2015
To drive her point home, the 18-year-old listed several distinguished individuals who wear their hair in dreadlocks, including Harvard University professor Vincent Brown and historian Heather Andrea Williams, saying that none of them smell like marijuana.
Rancic has since apologized, claiming her remark was in reference to bohemian look and wasn't targeting her race.
Dear @Zendaya, I'm sorry I offended you and others. I was referring to a bohemian chic look. Had NOTHING to do with race and NEVER would!!! — Giuliana Rancic (@GiulianaRancic) February 24, 2015
It's obvious the E! host wasn't thinking when she made the contentious comment. Regardless, the mere fact that stereotypes such as these still prevail is problematic.
Zendaya's decision to call Rancic out for her remark was absolutely the right move.
In order for true equality -- in thought, speech and action -- to prevail, we must continue to fight racial stereotypes and biases, no matter how accidental or insignificant they may seem.
Citations: Zendaya Wrote A Powerful Defense Of Her Dreadlocks After Racist Comments On E Fashion Police (Buzzfeed), Zendaya Blasts Fashion Police Host Giuliana Rancics Ignorant Red Carpet Dis (Washington Post)