Tag Archives: hair

‘You Can Touch My Hair,’ But Why?

By Guest Contributor Brokey McPoverty, cross-posted from PostBourgie

The website un’ruly held a public art exhibit in New York City this weekend entitled “You Can Touch My Hair.” Three black women stood in Union Square with signs that read “You can touch my hair,” welcoming strangers to come and cop a feel. The women had different hair types:  dreadlocks, straightened hair, a big, blown-out afro.

My intent was to have a piece on this event written a couple of days ago, but getting my thoughts together has been tougher than I thought. But now that I’ve had a chance to chew on this for a while, I’ve decided that this is either some amazing real life trolling or a misguided attempt at doing something important. Or maybe both.

I’m a woman with big hair who has had many a strange, uninvited hand in her head, and so my entire body and spirit reacted to this event. There is a special kind of violation that comes with someone putting their hands on you — any part of you — without your permission. When you’re at a club and someone puts his hand on your waist or the small of your  back to get your attention. Or you’re at a work function and a happy-faced woman in a business suit sticks her hands in my hair. When someone has decided that their desire to touch you is more important than your interest in being touched, you don’t feel very much like a person. And being asked by a stranger for undeserved permission to touch part of me is exceedingly creepy.

Continue reading

The Weave and I: A Love Story

By Guest Contributor Alona Sistrunk, cross-posted from HairPolitik

When I was in eighth grade, my English teacher asked each student to place five items in a box that best represented him or her. In my box, I placed a pair of scissors, a brown crayon and three other items I’ve long since forgotten. When it was time to present my “Alona box” to the class, I pulled out the scissors and cut off a piece of my weave! Holding the borrowed hair next to my heart, I professed my undying love for weave. That day, I knew that other people’s hair would always have a special place in my heart!

As I made my way back to my seat, amidst much applause from ALL of the black girls in the room, I felt conflicted. With the same zeal it took to love and publicly praise other people’s hair, privately I hated and damaged my own. Even at the tender age of thirteen I knew that didn’t make sense. The fact that I hated my kinky hair is remarkable since I’d hardly ever seen it! It was always chemically straightened or hidden underneath a barrage of ever-changing weaves. Since all I knew about my hair was that it was “bad”, not having to “deal with it” was quite alright with me.

As I grew older, my love affair with extensions grew even more complicated. How could I continue to despise the thought of “freeing” my naturally kinky hair while at the same time wholeheartedly embracing weaves (read: straight and loosely curled hair) with an almost obsessive devotion. How could I become the strong black woman that I wanted to be, that I claimed to be, if I hated who I was made to be? By the time I reached college, shouts of betrayal from the few black women who were “brave” enough to “unleash” their natural hair made me question my authenticity even more. They asked, “Why do you hate yourself, Sistah? Why are you trying to be White-something you’re not? Why don’t you embrace who you are and let your natural self show?”

Continue reading

White Teacher Kicks out Black Student over Hair-Care Product

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea Plaid

Natural Black HairI could barely contain my rage when I saw this item:

In Seattle, Wash., a white male teacher had an 8-year-old African American girl removed from the classroom. In most cases, children are removed for behavioral and disciplinary issues, which is clearly understandable and acceptable; however, this wasn’t the case here.

The teacher removed the girl, claiming her Afro was making him sick. Naturally, the father of the child, Charles Mudede, was extremely concerned after the incident, and, as a result, the girl, who was the only black child in the advanced-placement class, has missed two weeks of school.

The incident, which occurred at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School, was featured on KIRO-TV. The segment showed the hair product the girl used, Organic Root Stimulator’s Olive Oil Moisturizing Hair Lotion, as well as interviews with her mother and lawyer.

Checking out Afrobella’s Facebook page, I found the link to the original story filed by reporter Tonya Mosley, in which she interviewed the student’s mother, the lawyer taking the case, and others:

Bellen Drake still can’t believe she’s here, at a news conference with the NAACP, fighting to get her 8-year-old daughter back into honors classes - all because of hair moisturizer.

“I couldn’t comprehend it. I was trying to make sense of it and it took awhile,” said Bellen.

Bellen says late last month, the teacher pulled her daughter out of class at Thurgood Marshall Elementary and into the hallway.

“My daughter reports that she kept saying she’s afraid and it’s your hair and that she could go to another class for the rest of the day.”

Bellen says the school never contacted her about it, but instead removed the girl from her honors class and into a regular classroom.

“This is about the conduct of an adult and the ramification of that conduct by the principal,” says Vonda Sargent, the family’s attorney.

Someone who reblogged the quote from my Tumblr blog responded that the student’s father, Charles Mudede, has been writing about the situation.  Come to find out the white teacher in question was a white woman, not a man as first reported:

[Just] last week, my daughter—who is 8 and happens to be the only brown person in her Accelerated Progress Program class at Thurgood Marshall Elementary—was ordered out of the classroom because her teacher did not like the smell of her hair. The teacher complained that my racially different daughter’s hair (or something—a product—in the hair) was making her sick, and then the teacher made her leave the classroom. My daughter was aware of the racial nature of this expulsion not only because she was made to sit in a classroom that had more black students in it (the implication being that this is where she really belongs, in the lower class with the other black students), but because her teacher, she informed me, owns a dog. Meaning, a dog’s hair gives the teacher less problems than my daughter’s human but curly hair. Most white people do not have to deal with shit like this. Shit that if not checked and confronted will have permanent consequences for the child. Continue reading

Happy Black Girl Day x Assimilation x Whiteness

by Guest Contributor Renina Jarmon (M.Dot), originally published at Model Minority

Black assimilation is premised on being accepted by White people and making them feel comfortable.

In reading Kevin Mumford’s brilliant book, Interzones, I learned that the Urban League and the NAACP are historically rooted in making sure that country Negros from the south, who moved to the north, didn’t make aspiring middle class Black folks look bad. These two groups monitored Negro behavior on the streets, went door to door teaching folks about “personal cleanliness” and monitored Black sex workers.

I am excited about #Happyblackgirl day because it is about us affirming ourselves and not looking to mainstream media to do so.

I am grateful that @Sistatoldja took the time to make it happen. The 7th day of every month is now, Happy Black Girl Day. Wooter.

Last week I tweeted “Black women are awesome on 55 million different levels. CNN can’t capture that and I don’t expect them to. It ain’t they job, its ours.“

I see those reports and roll my eyes because I know that when CNN does their Negro reports they are simply doing their job, which is to serve the interests of the shareholders and of the white power structure.

Don’t get me wrong, if CNN was like, can you come on and talk about Black women’s sexuality, global economy or gentrification, I would roll, but I highly doubt that phone would ring, lols. Renina the pundit. Ha!

Back to the hair. Black women needing to straighten their hair to increase their chances of getting a job or a mate, is a manifestation of structural domination. Continue reading

Black women want their heads rubbed, too

by Guest Contributor Ryan Barrett, originally published at Cheap Thrills

African_american_woman_receives_head_massage-1

Now that this week’s Oprah schedule is up onher site, I guess I can divulge which taping I attended (and if this isn’t supreme coincidence I don’t know what is): Chris Rock’s dish on his new documentary, “Good Hair”. In fact, we audience members attended the film’s North American film debut, right here in downtown Chicago.

The show airs today, September 30th (set your DVRs!). But before it does, I’d like to comment on an issue that Rock discusses both in the film and during his visit with Oprah: the “no touch” rule when it comes to Black women’s hair (i.e. if you’re dating a Black woman, don’t even try to get near her head). According to Rock, Black men are “thirsty” to touch a head of hair, and Black women’s “keep away” policy causes intimacy issues.

So I’ll venture this, and then explain: Black women’s scalps are equally parched from lack of attention. Yes, our hair is thirsty for love, too.

Continue reading

Open Thread: Tyra’s Real Hair

by Latoya Peterson

Stalking Tyra is normally Carmen’s beat, but since she’s got her hands full with the new baby, looks like I’ll have to take this one.

Finally, after much fanfare, Tyra Banks opened her show sans weave. Afrobella was disappointed:

In retrospect, it’s my fault. I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up. I shouldn’t have come into the new season of the Tyra Banks Show with expectations.

But I did. My bad.[...]

The potential was there for this show to educate women of color about the beauty they so often hide behind sewn in pieces and slathered on chemicals. Instead it quickly devolved into a self-aggrandizing display that (in my opinion) reinforced negative assumptions about black hair — further compounded by the other guests on the show. All of whom had their hair styled and styled and styled some more before their “big reveal.” And then it was time for the Perez Hilton
interview and I swear, my hand up and flipped the channel all of its own accord.

I always try to look on the bright side… so I’ll end with this. Tyra’s “Real Hair Day” was the beginning of an important conversation. But myself and the many natural haired women I know, were left cold by the episode. Where were the women with kinky, coily, natural hair textures? Why not feature a woman with a TWA? Why not expose her hair as it truly is — unaltered texture and all? Maybe, despite the hype, Tyra wasn’t yet ready. And that I can almost respect.

Now, I wasn’t surprised at Tyra, but I am surprised that not one guest had a natural.

Your thoughts?

The Brazil Files: Bela or Bust Part 3 – On Race

by Special Correspondent Wendi Muse

Continued from “Bela or Bust Part 2 - On Class” . . .

“We always want what we can’t have,” so the saying goes, a saying that is most fitting to describe the intersection of race and the significance of beauty in Brazil. Though many Americans think of a raven haired, dark-eyed, sun-kissed, bronze “cutie with a booty,” the standard for physical beauty in Brazil is anything but. In fact, when it comes to looks, fair skin, light eyes, and straight, blonde hair spell attractive forwards, backwards, and sideways.

When asked of the women by my male friends, as I mentioned in the introduction of this series, my reply was often what they were not expecting to hear, nor were my descriptions of the food, weather, and my ability to walk around freely, unmolested by criminals. The Brazil so many people were expecting could not be found in the stories I told. But even I was in for some surprises, one of them being how white film, television, magazines, and many other forms of media happened to be.

The surprise was not that whites were all over the television. Brazil has a large white population, made up primarily of several generations of Italians, Germans, and Portuguese, not to mention Spaniards, Syrians, Lebanese, Britons, and a few more recent French stragglers. Yet the concentration of said whites is its highest in the southern region of Brazil which, as a result of having a less slavery-dependent more immigrant labor-dependent economy, happens to be more wealthy, developed, and progressive than most of the states in the northern region, where poverty is at its worst. The surprise for me was that in comparison to Brazil’s diverse population, even diverse in terms of what was deemed white, television did not come close. The majority of people who were protagonists on television programs, at least those set in Brazil and not including foreign-based film or television programs (i.e. imported American or European sitcoms and reality shows) were practically Nordic – light eyes, light skin, and light hair.

While Brazilian tv has become increasingly more diverse over the years, as has the business of product promotion and advertising, it nevertheless continues to rely on whiteness to sell an image of success, wealth, and happiness. When coupled with the reality that whites still hold the majority of the nation’s wealth and political power, this image is all the more unsettling. Not only does the whiteness serve as shorthand for all these things, but with class as a determining factor of general worth, whiteness comes at a special premium. It means you’re automatically beautiful as well.

If I had a dollar for every time someone fawned over olhos claros (light eyes) or loiras (blonde women), I would be a billionaire. Bottle blondes, or in other words, women with dark hair who ended up with that unfortunate orange hue on their heads instead of flaxen, sandy, or gold, could be spotted in high numbers, as could the men who broke their necks with their passing. But most of all, there is the business of hair straightening. If one is not already born into whiteness, and cannot fit into the quintessential beauty associated with those on the lightest end of the spectrum, hair is one way to come infinitely close. Continue reading

Hair’s To Freedom

by Guest Contributor Neesha Meminger, originally published at Neesha Meminger

This weekend, I was interviewed for a magazine article. Nothing to do with my book, or even writing, for that matter. The topic of the hour was body image. This is a topic I could go on and on and ON about (and have, on several occasions), but I’ll refrain just this once.

Before the interview, all sorts of thoughts went through my head about what I might talk about — will I do the usual issue of weight and body size/shape? Would I go to the more familiar topic of areas of my body I’ve waged war with? Or would I go into the skin shade territory? So many areas to cover (no pun intended), not enough interview time . . .

So, when the lovely interviewer called me, we had a fantastic, lively, friendly discussion. It was fun and hilarious. We were about forty-five minutes through when I realized all I’d talked about was my hair. My hair. Not the usual trilogy: butt, boobs, belly. Not flab, sag, and lumps. Hair. And not body hair, either.

I had no idea what a huge issue hair has been all through my life. But as I talked to Ms. Lovely Interviewer, I realized that as a Sikh girl-child, then young woman, so many battles over control and power in my house were fought around the territory of my hair. I was not allowed to cut it, there were certain hairstyles I could not wear, and there was just so much IMPORTANCE placed on what I did or did not do with my hair. Continue reading