Wednesday, September 4, 2013

So, You Don't Like Afro Hair

When I first started writing this post, I couldn't finish it because I was angry. I don't understand it. Why now is there so much outrage over African American hair. A black woman, on national tv, states that she thinks Afro hair is ugly. Really? Even though she has since apologized, I just don't understand why she would say that...on national tv. If she had a daughter would she say that to her? Of course, we all say something stupid sometimes half the time. I just told my kids if they didn't stop arguing and acting a fool in that backseat, I was going drop them off to the police department. Did they believe me? Likely not. ( Always, always follow through with your parental threats. lol) However, somebody somewhere probably believes those words as I'm sure some young girl or woman thinking about natural hair probably believes her words too. And then she said who would keep afro hair. That's "nasty."

Me! AJ's first haircut shortly after he turned one. I think it's beautiful. And whenever we take a trip down memory lane, AJ thinks it's pretty cool, too.

I'm sure she was probably using this as a punch line for a laugh but for the natural hair community, it was a punch in the face.

Not that black women and little girls all over the world haven't had enough pressure to look a certain way in society. Not that we haven't had self-acceptance issues and feelings of wanting to "fit in" to be the "right kind of black." I think it's sad. Relaxers and other hair products were created back in the early to mid 1900s by the likes of Garret A Morgan, Madame CJ Walker and others not only to make hair more manageable but also to make blacks appear more "socially acceptable"in society. And that's what society is telling us, that natural hair is NOT socially acceptable.

If you want to wear your hair straight, that's fine. Natural. That's fine. If you think it's ugly, that's also fine. To publicly announce it with those words with so many people watching-not fine. Think of the little girls and their impressionable minds that struggle with enough today. I've chopped my hair off for the very reason to make my own daughter, who's now 8, feel more comfortable with her hair because she started to not like hers.

However, society keeps telling us that natural hair isn't fine, like it's not normal. I've only been natural for 3 months but I remember when I got my first dirty look about my hair. Just think about what that does to a person's confidence, self image, especially our little girls. Little black girls are being pointed out and made to feel ashamed of their hair like something is wrong with them. One Ohio school banned afro puffs in their policy and said that ponytails with rubber bands were not permitted or braided hairstyles. After outrage, the school apologized and changed its policy but who does this mostly affect? Black children. Or how about the Tulsa charter school that sent the 7 year old girl home from school for wearing her hair in dreadlocks. The poor child ended up going to a different school. How can we let this happen to our children. How can we be the ones doing it? These schools are going so much to say the hair is a trend, a distraction. Let's flip this thing around for a minute.

You've seen these. Hairbows. I make them myself for my own daughter but the majority of children that wear these are little white girls. Why isn't this called a trend? Isn't it an accessory. It's not even a part of the child like their own hair. Is this a distraction? Yes.
"Put your hairbow back in. Leave it alone. No don't take it out. Where is your bow? Don't take it out again." I've said every last one of these to my daughter and we've stopped wearing them as much because of it. However, I've also said it over and over to other children.
Oh and it could especially be a huge distraction when the bow is twice as big as the child's head. Oh, but this is okay. It's normal. It's cute. It matches the outfit. It's what we are used to. It's what the "majority" wants and accepts. The bigger the bow the bigger the social status? Hmmm.

But we've got adults instilling in kids a sense of shame and guilt over their African American hair. Way to go America. We're doing a fabulous job of embracing diversity and encouraging a positive sense of self. We are not only teaching this negative self image to little black girls and boys but also encouraging other ethnic/racial groups of children to grow up believing something is wrong, unnatural, ugly, not normal and so on and so on about African American hair. Pushing the opinion of future leaders that if it doesn't look like me, it's not right. This is discrimination. This discrimination can plant little tiny seeds of indifference, which could lead to hate, which could lead conflict, and even racism. So just what exactly are we encouraging?