Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Fighting The Symptom Rather Than The Problem


For the last two days I've been following a heated debate taking place across the black blogosphere. Curlynikki, a blog that focuses on natural women with curly hair (specifically black women) made a post featuring a white woman named Sarah. All hell broke loose after a vocal group of black naturals began speaking out against a white woman being featured on "their space." Soon thereafter several black blogs picked up on the controversy, including Ebony

In the course of two days I have learned the following...
  1. Curlynikki was started by a black woman, who later sold the website to a white corporation. So, it is no longer black owned.
  2. This is not the first time Curlynikki has featured a white woman. So, the outrage seems a bit disingenuous. 
  3. Many members of the "natural movement" are bat shit crazy. As militant as I am even I cringed at some of the stuff I've read from black women promoting the idea that natural hair = black women's shit. There are some people who truly believe this is the beginning of white women taking over the natural movement. I understand their thought process. After all, white women do have a history of piggybacking on black struggles. However, the fact that it even took a movement for black women to love and embrace their natural hair is more telling than anything.
  4. There are a helluva lot of damaged black women in this world. This observation comes from reading comments like, "Sarah needs to apologize for being featured here. She caused a lot of hurt and pain" or "She's the reason I grew up hating myself."
Here is my two cents...

Getting mad at a white woman featured on a website started by a black woman, but now owned by white people, is an oxymoron. Once upon a time Curlynikki was a "black" site. Now it is a white owned site that is operated by a black woman. 

It is no longer a "space for black women." It is no longer "a safe space for black women." White people own it. They can do whatever the hell they want with it. 

If this is an issue black women need to address the chick who sold the site. Obviously she wasn't thinking about it being a "a safe space for black women" when she sold it to white people. She was thinking about $$$. which is a whole different conversation.

Furthermore, it is not clear whether or not the black woman who started the website ever intended it to be a site SOLELY for black women. The fact that she has featured white woman before makes it impossible to say that it was in fact intended solely for black women. 

The white woman at the center of this controversy is only a symptom of the problem. The actual problem here is white supremacy and a eurocentric standard of beauty that has been pushed down our throats for the last 400+ years.  People are simply lashing out at the white woman because of what she represents.

Traditionally, white women have been held as the standard of beauty in this world. White supremacy is the tool that was used to promote this standard. Black women, who are on the opposite side of this standard, have been ostracized, ridiculed, and made to feel ugly. Many of us are able to look past the bullshit and simply love ourselves. However, some of us have internalized this crap and we end up reading comments like, "I thought I was ugly growing up."

For so long many of us tried our damnedest to conform to this standard...naively believing we could do so. The reality is most black women will NEVER fit into a white standard of beauty. So, when a website black women claim as OUR own (however untrue this may be) features a white woman I imagine it can spark some unrest in women who aren't completely secure in themselves and have internalized the crap society says about their features, hair, etc.

I believe a lot of the anger in this situation stems from the reality that black women don't have our own standard of beauty. A black standard of beauty has never been created. We've had pockets of movements that promoted black beauty but they didn't last. We've been forced to conform to the white standard of beauty because 1). Whites control the job market 2). We've been conditioned and 3). Black men have been conditioned.

The 3rd point above is probably one of the more crucial of this discussion. 

The white beauty standard was shaped by white men. In their quest to promote white supremacy they labeled their women the most beautiful and desirable of them all. They promote the hell out them in the media. Black men, unfortunately, have fallen hook, line, and sinker for the white man's beauty standard....to the point where many of them expect black women to conform to that standard as well. 

Here is the problem with that...

Men traditionally create beauty standards. They say what is attractive in women. They say what is unattractive in women. Women have traditionally conformed to the desires of men in an effort to attract men. If black men expect black women to adhere to a beauty standard created by white men for white women it promotes a shit load of issues such as self-hate in black women.

The fact of the matter is black men have failed to create a black beauty standard. They are too busy subscribing to one that MOST black women cannot achieve. I truly believe this is the root of all the "hurt" and "pain" I've been reading. 

The men black women desire and love don't appear to desire and love them in their natural state. If they did this would be a non-issue. If black men put black women on the same pedestal that white men put white women I believe this whole thing would be a non-issue because black women would feel secure in their own beauty. 

If black men were to collectively start a movement that favors black women's natural beauty we would start seeing some healing in black women. The natural movement, as it stands today, is promoted by black women alone. Most black women aren't natural and most that I know aren't considering going natural. However, if the men they were interested in began collectively promoting and gravitating toward natural haired black women those women would quickly get on board.

I personally think black men are too far gone to create an authenticate black beauty standard. If black men were given the opportunity to create a black beauty standard I truly believe it would be so eurocentric that most black women still wouldn't fit it. Black men's minds have been colonized. They may not be physically in shackles but anyone paying attention can see they are fucked up beyond repair mentally.

Rather than fight this white woman, black women need to focus our attention on the things that have made it possible for her to have such a position in society. If white privilege is the issue then we need to be fighting white privilege. If white supremacy and an unfair beauty standard are the problems we need to be fighting white supremacy and an unfair beauty standard. 

Stop fighting the symptom and start fighting the problem. 

We need to be happy and comfortable in our own skin. We need to stop looking outside ourselves for validation. We need to love and support each other.
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