Zendaya’s Racist Run-in With Vons is a Reminder Our Work is Not Done

If Zendaya–a Hollywood star who just so happens to be a woman of color–can’t buy gift cards without being questioned or flat out ignored, what hope do the rest of us have? Ugh. 

In an alternate universe, this might be a funny and sarcastic question But unfortunately it’s a completely valid one in 2016, because once again black women are forced to question their safety in public spaces. 

Despite Vons insistence that Zendaya simply reached the store’s credit card limit for gift cards, part of me refuses to give them the benefit of the doubt. And why should I? I’d be in early retirement and traveling the world if I got a dollar every time a similar incident trended in my news feed. Racial inequality doesn’t begin and end with a lifeless black body — it weaves in and out of our everyday routines. 

Want to excel and thrive in the workplace? Make sure your hair is straight first. Eager to walk a Fashion Week runway? Pack your own makeup in case the artists aren’t equipped to work with brown skin. Need to make a quick run to the grocery store? Doublecheck that the cashier is a “fan of your skin tone.”

It’s easy to grow restless when these are the circumstances we encounter or read about everyday. And what’s particularly jarring about Zendaya’s incident is that she is a black woman with skin on the fairer side. What happens when a woman with a deeper toned face walks through those doors? I cringe just thinking about it. 

Once again, we’re reminded that the work is never done. Beyond working to eliminate colorism within our own community, it’s necessary to continue reporting injustices until significant change is enforced. So, until next time…