Zoe Kravitz, daughter of ‘Cosby Show’ actress Lisa Bonet and musician Lenny Kravitz, is opening up for the first time about her struggles with race growing up.
In addition to doing a stunning cover shoot for Nylon magazine, Zoe speaks to the publication in a telling interview where she admits that growing up in the shadow of her famous parents, combined with the portrayal of Black culture by the media and her predominantly white school surroundings, caused her to identify more with white culture while growing up.
These days, the young star and her folks get along, er, famously—so much so, in fact, that she and her dad got matching “Free at last” tattoos about a year ago. But it wasn’t only her parents’ celebrity that hampered Kravitz’s ability to feel like she belonged while growing up. 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 also elaborated further about her upbringing, insisting that while she did enjoy many elements of being a celebrity kid, her parents raised her in a way that made it clear to her that she was “lucky” and that certain luxuries afforded to their family were not the normal way of life.
“We had a chef, but it was never like, ‘This is the way the world works, Zoë,’” she explains. “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.” By this time, she’d already come to realize that her family was different.
You can read the full NYLON magazine interview with Zoe HERE.