Why Zendaya Was Wrong To Play The ‘Race Card’ Over Her Vons Gift Card Issue

There are some things you can see coming and actress Zendaya Coleman just proved me right, albeit a year or so later than expected.

After having troubles with purchasing $400 worth of gift cards from a Vons supermarket on Wednesday, the former Disney kid took to her Snapchat and indirectly claimed that a white cashier who had serviced her and a friend at one of their stores might have been racist.

“The lady that was helping us,” she relayed, as noted by TMZ, “I don’t think she was a huge fan of our skin tone. In fact, I recall her not trying to help us at all [by] saying that we could not buy the gift cards and then, [she threw] my wallet. I just can’t make this s**t up.”


As I viewed her rant, I admit that a massive red flag went up, but I decided to reserve my judgment until more on the situation came to light.

That would come by way of a spokesperson for the grocery conglomerate, who would go on to explain later in the day that not only did the interaction between Zendaya and the cashier have nothing to do with the color of her skin, but that there is a set limit on all purchases for gift cards from Vons (something Zendaya herself expressed at the beginning of her Snapchat lash-out).

“At Vons, we strive to treat each and every customer with the utmost respect,” a spokesperson for the store told E! Online.

“There is a policy that limits gift card purchases using a credit card. Zendaya was able to purchase gift cards up to our limit, and we apologize for any inconvenience or misunderstanding. We respect Zendaya’s voice in the community and similarly are committed to diversity and inclusion.”

Furthermore, the matter was ultimately rectified by the manager, who allowed Coleman to up the limit of her purchase. Case closed, right?

[Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]

Well, no, actually, not in the slightest. You see, we need to have a chat, Zendaya. Please sit down and take the following words to heart with the love and compassion that they’re being offered with: You’re doing too much, baby girl — way too much. What you dealt with today had nothing to do with racism and everything that goes down in the world of retail. As someone who once was employed in that field and as someone who’s black, let me break down a few things for you.

For starters, you should know just how irksome it is for cashiers to have to deal with customers who feel that just because they’re the ones with money, nothing is off-limits. That alone is worthy of wanting to make an employee toss up the deuces (along with the free middle finger on their other hand for proper emphasis), and walk away from their jobs forever, on a daily basis. There are rules set in place for anyone and everyone who steps inside of an establishment such as Vons, and just because you have a name or a plethora of money in your bank account, the rules are still the same. All the cashier did was let you know that you couldn’t break them and that needs to be understood.

As for tossing your wallet back at you, there are several reasons why that might have actually occurred. Did you ever stop to think, for a moment, that this woman was already having a bad day that you made worse and because of your interaction, lashed out during a lapse in judgment? Could she have possibly been handing the wallet back to you, and in the heat of the moment, you did not notice that she was? Is there even a chance that while responding to the complaints of you and your friend, it slipped from her hands? Something tells me that you’re not as innocent in this part of the act as you claim to be. I’m not saying that she absolutely did not do what you’re saying that she did, but I’m sure that your attitude during the sale was a factor in her reaction. You should own that.

Speaking of reactions, and to get to my point for this overall piece, know this: Pulling out the race card over minor grievances where it’s completely uncalled for not only diminishes the importance of conversations about race but gives ammo to the people who refuse to take part in those conversations unless it benefits them. I’m looking at you, Donald Trump, but I digress.

The thing is, I know you understand this better than anyone. When Giuliana Rancic came at you on Fashion Police for that gorgeous hairstyle you rocked at the 2015 Academy Awards, you compiled a thoughtful letter on why any jest about African-American hair in the mainstream was completely uncalled for.

Coleman at the 2015 Academy Awards. [Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images]

“There is already a harsh criticism of African-American hair in society without the help of ignorant people who choose to judge others based on the curl of their hair,” the note, which was shared by The Washington Post, partially read. “My wearing my hair in locs on an Oscar red carpet was to showcase them in a positive light, to remind people of color that our hair is good enough.”

You know how to use your voice to properly preach and teach, and stronger still, help to create necessary change not just for the black kids of your generation, but for all black people. You are being heard, Zendaya, by so many people, and you need to understand when it is necessary to raise that voice, and how easy it is for that voice to be misinterpreted or worse of all, misunderstood.

Considering your age and the fact that you’re human, I knew this misstep would come. I knew it the moment you released that powerful letter on your Instagram and proved that you were one of the few young celebrities out there who gave a damn about doing something greater than standing in front of a camera. I’m disappointed in you, but I’m not upset with you. However, you need to make this right ASAP. How you choose to do so is ultimately up to you, but you need to act fast. The next hand will surely be dealt out in this race game long before the first dollar on any of those gift cards are spent.

Get yourself right, girl. We need you out here. Don’t let us down again.

[Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images]

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