Being in the public eye comes with criticisms for every step you take and outfit you wear. And in the case of Beyoncé and her daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, 4, it is no different. However, the reasoning here does not only come from a place of rudeness. It comes from a place of anti-blackness.
Beyoncé’s sister, Solange Knowles, shared a photo from Blue Ivy’s birthday party this week, and the debate over the little girl’s hair and the way her mom cares for it came fast and furious.
The criticisms of little Blue’s hair have been ongoing in her short four years of life, and they are usually centered around her hair needing to be straighter, needing to be further away from Afros and tight coils, and closer to straighter hair, or a curl pattern that some people just do not have. Although this time around the comments are generally more positive (most anyway), it seems people just can’t stop focusing on how a mama takes care of her girl’s hair.
There is nothing objectively worse or less manageable about natural hair, but if you take care of a hamster the way you would take care of a puppy, you’re going to run into some issues. The issue is that black hair is simply different, but anti-blackness convolutes it into being worse: something unmanageable, unkempt and uncouth.
Anti-blackness, as the name suggests, is the distrust, hatred, or dislike for black people: our hair, our features (like big lips or wide noses or large backsides), our clothing, our music, etc. In America, this anti-blackness stems from the hundreds of years of slavery, dozens of years of segregation and the racism that has been ongoing from those years into the present day. Racism has positioned blackness against whiteness as a binary, where one of which is always, or nearly always, seen as more desirable, prettier, smarter and/or better.
Most parents have seen a child at the park or the store or wherever else whose long straight hair has not been combed that day: maybe she refused to have her hair combed, maybe he just woke up from a nap, there could be innumerable reasons. They’re kids! But white and otherwise nonblack children are not told they need to chemically alter their hair in order to be presentable, nor do their moms deal with this sort of constant discussion of how they’re caring for their kids’ hair.
And here is the kicker: black people — men, women, girls, boys and everyone in between — are told this every day. Our hair is made a dress code violation, told it is unprofessional for the workplace and essentially banned in the armed forces. Moms like Beyoncé are called out for not “brushing” their kid’s hair. Many try to downplay the anti-blackness inherent in these situations, but there is no valid excuse.
So this is for everyone of every color who has ever had ant-black thoughts or feelings, for everyone who ever said or thought that the way that their hair grows out of their head is not “for them,” for anyone who thinks their natural features are beautiful or good enough because they do not match the societal standard: You are beautiful exactly the way you are. Do not try and change the lovely uniqueness of yourself or your kids because you’ve been made to believe otherwise.
And to the bullies picking on a toddler and her mom: Grow up, educate yourself and stop perpetuating anti-blackness.
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