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Gabrielle Union Reveals the Hidden Message in Bring It On

'The hard work of African Americans has been repackaged with blond hair & blue eyes'

The phrase cultural appropriation has become ubiquitous in discussions of current fashion and beauty trends (if this is new territory for you, take a quick minute on Google). Although the term wasn’t as popular in the early aughts as it is in 2018, the concept still made its way into mainstream media back then in the hit blockbuster Bring It On.

Yes, the “Hey Mickey, you’re so fine” flick that might have been sold as a girly cheerleading movie was actually a commentary on white people taking black culture. It’s a pretty clear-cut theme of the film, since a group of white cheerleaders literally steals routines from an all-black squad in another town, but the seriousness of the issue was easy to overlook because of the movie’s sugary, rom-com packaging.

More: Miley Cyrus Accused of Cultural Appropriation

But the idea of cultural appropriation was something Gabrielle Union — who, at age 26, costarred with Kirsten Dunst and played the rival captain of the East Compton Clovers — was certainly focused on after she was denied a role in a different all-white movie. Union, now 45, recently spoke to ELLE about what Bring It On meant to her.

“I had wanted this cheerleading movie Sugar & Spice, but they didn’t go black on any of the roles. I couldn’t even audition. In Bring It On, the story is about cultural appropriation and how the hard work of African Americans has been repackaged with blond hair and blue eyes. The social justice of it appealed to me.”

Today's #WCW is my @EvaLongoria. This expectant mommy to be is one of my favorite people to hang with. She is hilarious and generous of heart and home. She is a triple threat. She acts, directs and runs her empire that includes several brands... all while being a wife, mommy to be, and amazing friend. She's also a philanthropist. Besides supporting numerous organizations (we are truly talking 40+), she founded The Eva Longoria Foundation which helps Latinas build better futures for themselves and their families through education and entrepreneurship. She also co-founded Eva’s Heroes, a nonprofit that benefits developmentally disabled children, and serves as a spokesperson for Padres Contra el Cancer, an organization supporting Latino families who have children with cancer. Let us lift her up in the light of goodness and hold her there!

A post shared by Gabrielle Union-Wade (@gabunion) on

More: Tyra Banks Was Fired From Victoria’s Secret Because of Her Hair

Union obviously is, and always has been, a champion of women of color. Aside from making giant strides in TV by producing BET’s female-centric drama Being Mary Jane, Union has an entire #WCW series on Instagram that highlights powerful women of color who she admires.

Since Bring It On was Union’s big break, we applaud her for being so mindful about the kind of narratives she took (and still takes) part in. We always love seeing women championing other women, and that includes women of color telling their stories and supporting each other. You keep doing you, Union.

Originally posted on StyleCaster.

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