Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Nappy-Headed Ho's

You didn't think I'd let this go without saying something, now did you?

One of the things you learn as a parent of an African American child is that you address racism, regardless of whether or not a comment was intended as such. You educate - always educate. I will be the first to recognize that many terms and comments come from years of desensitization, not from a burning flame of bigotry in the heart of everyone that makes a terrible comment. It was fight-for-equality little-ole-me that called someone an "Indian giver" just a few years ago!! And the words "they're our resident Jew" used to come out of my mouth regularly referring to cheap people - even myself. I've had to learn my own lessons along the way. Some phrases were fed to me like food and water, without even realizing the pain they can cause.

However, that's why you bring it back into the light. For those who say slavery is a thing of the past and African Americans should lighten up ... well, I'm very happy that you live in the bubble that you do. Yet, the reality is that there are still many, many people that see people of other races as less than equal ... perhaps even subhuman. It does exist. It is still alive. I have no idea how long it will take to overcome the days when we treated African Americans as animals, but we are not there. Some days, we're not even close.

So (after I take a deep breath following my Julia Sugarbaker tirade), I thought I'd just spend a moment on hair. Weird to some of you, I know, but because Don Imus opened the can of dreadlock worms, I want to yap about it for a moment.

Dreadlocks. Dreads. Think about it. How does it make you feel? What do you think about dreads? What do you think about "nappy hair"?

The bigger question is "why?"

I receive hair care advice all the time for my child that is black. Sometimes it's from people of color, but mostly it's from other Caucasians. Interestingly enough, it almost always pushes her hair toward something it's not. It always leans in the direction of "as light-skinned as possible."

Straight and shiny, or big, soft ringlets ... I hear "Halle Berry" a lot. People seem to forget she's half white and probably spends six digits on her hair every year.

The reality is that black hair is different. It was made to be different. Dreadlocks are the most natural state of hair (of any ethnicity). Black hair has a different make-up than mine. It doesn't shine naturally all the time because of the way it is made (the cuticle is made up of layers of scales, where Caucasian hair lies more flat - and reflects light more). A constant shine means that it is caked in unnatural products. Natural products absorb into the hair. The shine fades but it remains soft ... spongy ... perfect.

It's interesting to see how hatred and bigotry can carry down and even have an impact on how a person views another person's hair!

I remember years ago being at Six Flags with a group of young mothers. A young black woman walked by. She was thin, gorgeous and had straightened her hair board straight, shined it all up and fixed it very similar to most of the white women I knew. We couldn't help but all notice her as she walked by - perfect little twenty-something body ... all of us young moms who were still holding on to baby weight and wondering if our stomachs would ever accommodate a belt before we die. Then one of the the moms piped up and said, "Now see! SHE is beautiful because she has normal hair!!"

Today think about ... how you think about hair.


Misty said...

I love nappy hair. I have an adopted biracial son and we just shave his head:) But when he was little, I loved his nappy hair.

Leann said...

Nope, didn't expect you to let this one slip by... ;) I have two friends that are in bi-racial marriages and they said that, besides the bigotry they have experienced over the years, their children's hair has caused the biggest learning experience for them. I love how God has chosen to make us all different and, hair not excluded, He has done a magnificent job!!!

Always love reading your thoughts my friend!!!!!

Oh, and I will put up a homeschooling post soon for you... :)

Mary Beth said...

Thanks for addressing this. Ironically, most of the Rutgers basketball players don't have nappy hair.

And I loooove Julia Sugarbaker.

Amie said...

I was wondering if Imus even knows what "nappy" is.....most white men over 30 wouldn't ????

I plan to leave my (AA) girl's hair natural when they come home, at least until they are old enough to take care of it themselves *and* pay for it themselves.

Opal said...

I think the reason why he is being pulled up on this is because he's white. He's not supposed to say that.

However (in some people's eyes) it's "ok" for them to say this about one another because they're black. I never found that acceptable. If you listen to some of your stars some of them say this about women with natural hair. It's done constantly! They need to be pulled up on this also. They need to quit the "Do as I say, not as I do" nonsense.
...just some of my thoughts on the issue.
For the record I'm proud of my nappy hair. ;-)