The December issue of Glamour is devoted to their women of the year, and Gwen Stefani is the cover girl. There are other women of the year, including Zendaya, Simone Biles, Ashley Graham and… Bono, as man of the year. This post is just about Zendaya’s little profile as one of the women of the year, and I have to admit, I’ve really grown to like and adore Zendaya this year in particular. I think she’s shown a lot of grace in dealing with the constant barrage of racist and sexist crap that’s thrown her way simply because she’s a young woman of color in the public eye. I remember admiring the way she disengaged and then ignored comedienne Julie Klausner went Klausner full-tilt crazy on her on Twitter. I also think Zendaya handled the Vonns situation well a few months back. Besides using her celebrity to discuss race and sexism, Zendaya’s career is also growing – she was cast in the new Spider-Man and she has lots of side-projects too. Here are some highlights from her Woman of the Year profile:

Her parents pulled her out of her fifth grade class because she stood by & watched another kid get bullied: “They pulled me out of the classroom, and I got a little bit cussed out. I was like, ‘This is B.S. I didn’t do anything.’ But the point was, when you see something happening, you don’t just stand there. Knowing something is wrong and not doing anything is basically like doing it.”

The dreadlock moment: When Fashion Police’s Giuliana Rancic criticized Zendaya’s locs at the 2015 Oscars, the star posted that she’d chosen the look “to remind people of color that our hair is good enough.” She admits she’d initially felt like lashing back. “But then I was like, ‘You know what? Delete that. I’m going to write something that’s actually powerful.’”

Using her platform: “[Acting] has been my passion. But as I’ve started to understand the power and influence I have, I’ve realized it’s really this avenue for me to do bigger, more meaningful things. For me to help somebody.”

Speaking out about every day racism: In September she took to Snapchat to suggest that racism had led a California supermarket clerk to treat her and a friend badly. The incident made waves, as she’d planned. “It’s a discussion,” she says. “It’s like, ‘Yo, I can’t believe this happened to me. Does this happen to you guys? We should do something about it.’ ” Her fans follow that lead. “I get picked on because I’m black! And because of you I stand up for myself,” a fan tweeted her in August. That’s the reaction Zendaya strives for. “You have to learn to appreciate yourself and the power you hold,” she says. “Whatever is inside of you—your soul, your power—find it. See it. Respect it. Protect it. And use it.”

I guess I understand the lesson of her parents pulling her out of the class and telling her she shouldn’t be a bystander to bullying, but… surely a conversation would have been the better way to handle that? Fifth grade is what… 11 or 12 years old? Most kids that age are encouraged to simply do nothing, or they’ll do nothing on instinct, for self-preservation. It’s a necessary conversation to have though – what to do if you’re bullied, what to do if you witness bullying, what to say if you see someone being racist or sexist or awful. It feels like an episode of What Would You Do?


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