Ashley Graham is not exactly known for her cultural sensitivity. Truth be told, it’s not entirely her fault. In a country that centers White women as the beauty standard, and at a time when she’s getting more attention than any other plus size model or plus size model of color, it makes sense that Graham is not entirely aware of when she’s being inappropriate.
Perhaps you remember the story of the first time she took her Black boyfriend-now husband home to meet her White, Nebraskan family. Graham didn’t tell Justin that her family didn’t have much experience with Black people. And she didn’t tell her family that she was bringing a Black man home. She just hoped they would be “color blind.” And when her grandmother’s racism jumped out, as she refused to even say bye to Justin as she left, Graham was shocked that her loving family could be so racist.
Insensitive and self-centered. And not for nothing, there was no mention of her checking her family members for being rude to the man she would eventually marry. In fact, she shared that story about Justin confronting racism from her family as the reason she wanted to marry him. I guess because he didn’t spas out on them. In fact, he continued to reach out. He called the grandmother on her anniversary and that, according to Graham is what ingratiated him.
With that little anecdote in mind, it’s not surprising that Graham, in her naivety, asked Jason Momoa to perform a cultural ritualistic dance on the red carpet.
Momoa is native Hawaiian on his father’s side. In Native Hawaiian cultures, the perform a ceremonial dance called Haka. The dance includes stomping your feet rhythmically with shouting. It’s been used for battle preparations, to welcome distinguished guest or to acknowledge great achievements, occasions or funerals.
Basically, it’s not to be taken lightly.
Yet, on the red carpet for the 91st Academy Awards, Ashley Graham asked Momoa to perform the dance.
Smh. Momoa kind of chuckles nervously as his wife, Lisa Bonet shakes her head and mumbles something that sounds like dissent.
Graham didn’t exactly catch the message and she persisted. Eventually, Momoa appeased her with just a portion of the ritual by sticking his tongue out.
Because Momoa did this, I wonder if Ashley Graham even knew that her question was out of line.
But there were some people on the internet who let her know this was inappropriate.
Hopefully, she’ll get the message.