by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson
Oh irony of ironies.
Friday night, I’m checking the comments for my last post. I had already responded to some of the posters, which involved a small segue about hair and hair politics. After finally leaving work, I headed home, changed clothes, and went to catch up with my friend KJ.
Now, KJ is the type of friend everyone hopes to have in their crew – she is loyal, caring, sweet, socially conscious and wickedly intelligent. We also happen to share the same crazy sense of humor, so hanging out with her makes it impossible to focus on anything else. We decided to walk around my neighborhood and run some errands.
We end up looking for the Marshall’s inside of City Place Mall. As we enter the mall, lost in conversation, an older black woman with gorgeous, red-tinted twists approaches KJ and asks about her hair.
Now, this is not an unusual occurrence. KJ has some of the most enviable hair I have ever seen. Fraggle Rock like in nature, her mix of kinks and curls circle the crown of her head like a chestnut halo. Whenever I am out with KJ, I am accustomed to listening to the finer points of natural hair, how to care for it, and what hairdressers service the hair. So when this woman approached us, I figured it was one of those kind of conversations.
I quickly found out that I was wrong.
The woman asked Kim about her hair first, and then asked her why she went natural. Kim discussed her reasons for going natural, making the comment that she felt like she was wearing a wig by relaxing her hair.
The woman then asked if she had any problems with men finding her attractive because of her hair. As the woman continued, pressing the subject about men and their issues with her hair in general. She seemed very self-conscious about her hair, as she kept asking if it looked okay.
Just as I opened my mouth to tell her I thought her hair was beautiful, and suited her face well, she said, “These people in DC are so hair conscious. It’s like they don’t understand why you would want to wear your hair natural and express your blackness- it’s such a house nigga mentality.”
I was stunned.
Now, the non-verbal cues I had been getting from her made sense. The whole conversation, she had blocked her body away from me – even though she approached us from my side of the hallway, meaning she was naturally closer to me. She did not cast a glance my way during the entire conversation, even when KJ tried to include me by asking me direct questions and listening to my answers. Continue reading