Zendaya Uses Her Light-skinned Privilege The Right Way

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Zendaya is known for not only being an amazing actress, model, and artist, but she also is recognized for speaking out against discrimination towards oppressed groups. Recently, the accomplished activist worked her magic once again. During the 2018 Beautycon Festival in New York City, Zendaya took on colorism-ridden Hollywood. Even though diversity between races is improving as time progresses, the image of the beautiful Black woman portrayed through media continues to fit the European beauty standard: the light-skinned Black woman. “As a Black woman, as a light-skinned Black woman, it’s important that I’m using my privilege, my platform to show you how much beauty there is in the African-American community,” Zendaya said in conversation at #BeautyconNYC. “I am Hollywood’s acceptable version of a Black girl and that has to change. We’re vastly too beautiful and too interesting for me to be the only representation of that.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time Zendaya has advocated for the forgotten Black women through her platform. In her cover story for Compilation in 2016, she urged a change of representation for Black women in the media industry: “I feel a responsibility to be a voice for the beautiful shades my people come in. Unfortunately, I have a bit of a privilege compared to my darker sisters and brothers,” she said. “Can I honestly say that I’ve had to face the same racism and struggles as a woman with darker skin? No, I cannot. I have not walked in her shoes and that is unfair of me to say,” the social activist shared. “But I’m completely behind that woman. I want to be a part of the movement and growth,” she added. “And if I get put in a position because of the color of my skin where people will listen to me, then I should use that privilege the right way.”

In order for American society to evolve, it’s important for women like Zendaya to use their privilege in attempts to reverse unfortunate social norms. As more women like her speak out, not only will the deemed acceptable image of the Black woman evolve, but also will society’s idea of standard beauty. Thank you, Zendaya, for taking a bold step in the right direction for Black women.


By Sullivan Anderson, Sophomore, Jones College Prep

Snapchat: justcallmesully / Twitter: amoursullivan

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