“I Had to Un-Brainwash Myself” Zoe Kravitz Admits to Not Identifying With Black Culture as a Girl


Zoe Kravitz is the cover girl for the August 2015 issue of Nylon Magazine, and in a candid feature she discusses everything from her budding acting career to her evolving perception of herself;
As one of few black kids in her predominately white school, she remembers saying things like, “I’m just as white as y’all,” to her classmates. “I identified with white culture, and I wanted to fit in,” she says. “I didn’t identify with black culture, like, I didn’t like Tyler Perry movies, and I wasn’t into hip-hop music. I liked Neil Young.” But as time went on, her views shifted. “Black culture is so much deeper than that,” she says, “but unfortunately that is what’s fed through the media. That’s what people see. That’s what I saw. But then I got older and listened to A Tribe Called Quest and watched films with Sidney Poitier, and heard Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. I had to un-brainwash myself. It’s my mission, especially as an actress.”
Zoe Kravitz’s admission is deeply honest and pretty brave. There are black women who are still figuring out exactly what it ‘means’ to be black, and don’t feel ‘allowed’ to discuss that in a public setting. Movements like #carefreeblackgirl seek to define black womanhood outside of the difficulty and struggle associated with our experience and to highlight black women who are happy, loved and at peace with themselves.
But there are aspects of her upbringing that Zoe describes as black, including how her famous rocker father Lenny Kravitz raised her;
“I knew we were very lucky, and my dad raised me in an old-school way. His mom was from the Bahamas, and it was about manners and making the bed. It’s that old black shit, really—like, you get smacked if you talk the wrong way. It was about having respect for your elders and being thankful for what we had. He wanted to make sure I had chores, and not because we didn’t have a housekeeper, but because of the principle of the thing.” Of course, like any child, she tested the waters: “When I was about 11, my dad was trying to make me finish my dinner, but I didn’t want any more. He said, ‘There are starving kids in Africa.’ So I took an envelope and put potatoes in it and was like, ‘Send it to them.’ He was like, ‘You go upstairs right now!’ I was dead.”

Ladies, what do you think of Zoe’s words? And what does being a black woman mean to you?

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