Good Hair and Disappointing Black Bloggers

5 years ago

Good Hair - Chris RockApparently, to be a proud black woman who is not ‘self-hating on herself’, my hair should be as natural as God made it and remain so until He and I meet to discuss the matter. (Which, frankly, would be preferable to picking over my many sins while on His earth.)

So said an interesting dissertation in the HMS HerMelness HQ postbag last week.

And it is interesting since the subject of black women and their hair has always raged and it will ever be thus. What remains interesting to me, though, is these dye-in-the-wool declarations we are supposed to follow sheep-like if we’re not to be pelted with a tub of hair relaxer as we walk down the street.

And if you have no idea why this is even a subject, there is a thing in the black community, still and historically, about good hair being hair that is typically long and smooth, or short and smooth, or softly curly but, above all, hair that is not overly kinky and which doesn’t tangle or matt. You may also hear matted hair colloquially referred to as ‘nappy’ hair or short hair as ‘picky’ hair.

Since all our choices have a basis in history, you may also be interested to know that this good hair debate stemmed from slavery, where a black slave was more likely to be treated better if they had lighter skin and…you guessed it…good hair.

Below an enlightening extract from Ayana Byrd and Lori Tharps’ book “Hair Story: Untangling the roots of black hair in America.” 

"…light-skinned, straighter-haired slaves – men and women - continued to curry favor with the Whites in power…a skin-shade, hair-texture heirarchy developed within the social structure of the slave community…White slave masters reinforced the "good-hair", light-skin power structure in two ways. By selecting the lighter-skinned, straighter-haired slaves for the best positions within his household he showed they were most desirable. At slave auctions, he would pay almost five times more for a house slave than for a field slave… Blacks internalized this concept and within their own ranks propagated the notion that darker-skinned blacks with kinkier hair were less attractive, less intelligent and worth less than their lighter-hued brothers and sisters."

Now that we’re all caught up, please make it stop.

It’s all good hair. Even those without hair, it’s still all good.

Let us not continue to promulgate that which was an abberation in the first place. How we choose to wear our hair (afro, straight, kinky, bleached blonde, braids, weaved, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera - or bald) is no basis upon which to decide whether a black woman is Black and Proud - or whether a woman is anything based upon her personal style.

It is presumptuous.

We shouldn't presume to know the mind of another based solely on external indicators. Unless of course they’re wearing a live chicken on their head when state of mind might be guessed at. But on second thoughts, Nah! Each to his own. You rock that live chicken, girl!

And to my new fan of this morning - “Who had never followed a black blogger before and wasn’t disappointed,” - believe me, there’s time. However, you know, I’m going to choose to untangle the compliment in that hair-raising sentence and comb out the rest.

But, Psst: Don’t say that again to any other black bloggers you happen across - non-disappointed or not. Get a friend to explain why.

MISs Make It Stop!


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