Zendaya Gets Real About Cultural Appropriation: ‘You Can’t Tell Someone Not To Be Upset About It’

'You can't just decide when you want to be a part of our culture'

Zendaya isn’t here for your cultural appropriation, and in a new interview with Popsugar, she opens up about why it’s such a problem.

“If something feels personal to your culture or to your background,” the megastar said, “then you take that personally and you feel affected by it. You can’t tell someone not to be upset about it.”

She’s speaking from experience. Last year, Zendaya wore locs to the Oscars. She looked absolutely stunning, yet Fashion Police host and E! News correspondent Giuliana Rancic said, “I feel like she smells like patchouli oil … and maybe weed.”

Zendaya promptly fired back with a powerful response to Rancic’s “outrageously offensive” comment.

Jason Merritt / Getty Images

Now a year later, she’s happy to break down the meaning of cultural appropriation.

“Well, first of all, braids are not new,” Zendaya said when asked about celebrities like Kylie Jenner wearing cornrows. “Black women have been wearing braids for a very long time. … It became new and fresh and fun, because it was on someone else other than a black woman. You know what I mean? So that is the frustration. That’s where the culture appropriation element comes into play.”

She also shouted out Amandla Stenberg, who has spoken out about the same issue.

“She [Amandla] wished society loved black people as much as they love black culture. That’s the truth,” Zendaya continued. “The credit gets taken away from us when we make certain statements or when we do certain things. That is the frustration. People want to be around for the positives and the things that we bring as far as culture, but they don’t want to be around when we have problems or when we’re getting shot in the streets. You know what I’m saying? You have to be there for the whole experience. You can’t just decide when you want to be a part of our culture.” 🙌

Read Zendaya’s full interview with Popsugar here.

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