Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Politics Of Black Women's Hair

Sometimes I think I underestimate my intelligence. I say that because whenever I visit blogs written by SOME black people I feel like a genius in a room full of idiots. Seriously...I honestly feel that way. I don't know if I'm more enlightened than the average African American or what, but critical thinking seems to elude the black masses on the internet. I find this to be especially true amongst black men. Answers that should be obvious go right over their heads in most cases. 

You would think black men would understand black women better than other races of men understand the women of their racial group. Why? Because black men are almost solely raised by black women. However, this doesn't appear to be true. Either they are purposely stuck on stupid or they lack the intelligence to understand black women overall. 

All over the internet I keep reading comments from black men who cannot understand why black women relax their hair. Many don't understand why black women rock weaves and wigs. Almost all of them point to self-hatred as the ONE AND ONLY reason black women do any of the above. It hasn't dawned on these men that maybe...just maybe...there is more to the politics of black women's hair than self-hatred (and honestly I find it hilarious that black men would even criticize another group from supposedly hating themselves). 

Let me break it all the way down...

I'm not a fan of weaves and relaxers myself. Anyone that reads my blog should know I LOVE natural black hair. I currently rock an Afro. There is nothing more beautiful to me than a lovely black woman with a head full of natural black hair. While I obviously have a preference for black women with natural black hair I wouldn't turn away a black woman simply because she rocks a weave and relaxed hair. A fine woman is a fine woman to me. As long as she meets most of the things on my list I'm down for dating her.

Would I prefer black women to rock their natural hair? Yes. 

Do I feel it's my right to bash black women for rocking their hair the way they want to rock it? No. 

Do I sympathize with black women for the shit they go through involving their hair? Yes.

Now let's talk about the politics of black women's hair...

Here is the thing black men don't seem to get: Black men DO NOT provide for black women. They do not produce LEGITIMATE economic opportunity for themselves OR black women. When it comes to black women's hair the white man's opinion often holds more weight. Why? Because black women are dependent upon white men and white corporate America for jobs! Therefore, black women are going to conform to a European standard of beauty if it means putting food on the men, their opinion, claims of self-hatred be damned!

When black women are rocking our natural hair many of us hit a brick wall in our professional careers. Don't believe me? Just take a look at Rhonda Lee (the woman pictured above). Rhonda Lee was fired from her job as a meteorologist in Shreveport, Louisiana because she responded to an ignorant racist who criticized her natural hair on the station's facebook page. 

The racist wrote the following: 
“the black lady that does the news is a very nice lady.the only thing is she needs to wear a wig or grow some more hair. im not sure if she is a cancer patient. but still its not something myself that i think looks good on tv. what about letting someone a male have waist long hair do the news.what about that.”

Ms. Lee responded with the following:
“Hello Emmitt–I am the ‘black lady’ to which you are referring. I’m sorry you don’t like my ethnic hair. And no I don’t have cancer. I’m a non-smoking, 5’3, 121 lbs, 25 mile a week running, 37.5 year old woman, and I’m in perfectly healthy physical condition.

“I am very proud of my African-American ancestry which includes my hair. For your edification: traditionally our hair doesn’t grow downward. It grows upward. Many Black women use strong straightening agents in order to achieve a more European grade of hair and that is their choice. However in my case I don’t find it necessary. I’m very proud of who I am and the standard of beauty I display. Women come in all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and levels of beauty. Showing little girls that being comfortable in the skin and HAIR God gave me is my contribution to society. Little girls (and boys for that matter) need to see that what you look like isn’t a reason to not achieve their goals.

“Conforming to one standard isn’t what being American is about and I hope you can embrace that.

“Thank you for your comment and have a great weekend and thank for watching.”
Ms. Lee is now unemployed. Black women are damned by black men for rocking a relaxer and a weave and they are damned by white people for rocking their natural hair!

Black women are pressured to conform to an European standard of beauty largely because they are dependent on whites for survival in this country...whether black men want to admit it or not. Admitting this little fact probably brings shame upon black men, which is why they would rather scapegoat "self-hate" as the MAIN/SOLE reason why black women rock weaves and relaxers. It's probably hard to admit your race of women is dependent upon another race of men for economic opportunities because you, as men, haven't created those opportunities for them! So, they ignore this FACT and point to self-hate. 

Now don't get me wrong. I do believe self-hate plays a part in SOME black women's love for relaxers and weaves. However, I don't for one second believe this holds true for the MAJORITY of black women. Self-hate to me looks like Michael Jackson who, last time I checked, was a black man. Self-hate doesn't look like black women who press/relax their hair and rock weaves. The majority of black women rock relaxers for the following reasons:
  1. Pressure to conform to the European standard of beauty.
  2. Because that's what they want (duh!).
  3. Because that's the current style (and yes, I will admit sometimes the shit does look ridiculous and turn me off...ex. the multiple colored weave)
  4. For some...that's all they know (meaning they've had relaxed/straightened hair since they were children) and therefore they may not be comfortable rocking anything else. 
I don't honestly care what anyone thinks about my hair. I rock the natural and I'm proud to rock it! If I had to pick between a job and my hair I would pick my hair each and every time. However, I understand the same may not be true for other black women.  It would be nice if black women could be ourselves without everything and everyone judging us. It would be nice if black men made a half-way decent effort to understand the struggles black women face with their hair, the European standard of beauty and the politics behind their hair.
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