Black Hair Issues – via Jezebel

In today’s New York Times, Catherine Saint Louis attempts to get to the root of the politics surrounding black hair. She touches on “good hair,” the “creamy crack,” Malia Obama‘s twists and Chris Rock‘s new documentary. She writes:

Straightening hair has been perceived as a way to be more acceptable to certain relatives, as well as to the white establishment…

In the face of cultural pressure, the thinking goes, conformists relax their hair, and rebels have the courage not to. In some corners, relaxing one’s hair is even seen as wishing to be white.

We’ve covered this issue many times, as has the Times, and the discussion is ongoing. Frankly, the debate does get tiring. Saint Louis writes that many people of color ask: “Why can’t hair just be hair? Must an Afro peg a woman as the political heir to Angela Davis? Is a fashionista who replicates the first lady’s clean-cut bob really being untrue to herself?”

But a quote from Noliwe M. Rooks, the associate director of the Center for African American Studies at Princeton, struck me as as close as we’re going to get to an answer. She was asked about what it meant when the hair of Sasha and Malia Obama was sometimes pressed straight, and said: “There’s a complexity to who we are now. There wasn’t an easy answer to why.”

______________________________-
Question for my Caribbean ladies: I know the whole “good hair/bad hair” issue that rages in the islands, but do we really identify with our hair the way this article & comments seem to suggest?

Of note – my curly, frizzy, 1/2 Indian, 1/2 biracial hair is cut in a super-short pixie cut. What does that say about me? :s

Posted via web from BlahBlohBlog

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8 comments on “Black Hair Issues – via Jezebel
  1. Trace says:

    hehehe you’re a raving lunatic! that’s what it means! or have pseudo lesbian tendencies? *runs* i love you! hehehe

  2. Will says:

    i can’t answer your questions since i am as far away from being a black woman as possible… HOWEVER… as a literature teacher i can say that this discussion comes up quite often (more than you’d think)… for the minority of girls at the immediate post-secondary level, hair is political – they’re discovering their identities and hair plays a big role in that for them… for the rest it’s either fashion or whatever’s-easiest…

    i suspect this may be common?

    in a typical class of 40/45, i’ll have 2 – 5 students who keep their hair natural because they feel that to straighten it is to perpetuate colonial stereotypes… the rest either straighten, get braids or leave it natural because of fashion…

    every now and then i go into a rant about how beautiful hair is when it is natural… usually when one of my students suddenly turns up in class with hair straighter than mine (used to be)… in response, i usually get a scathing look and “missa abbott is not you have tuh comb it, yuh know!”

  3. realitysurfer says:

    Please take a moment to check out my documentary film BLACK HAIR

    It is free at youtube. 6 parts including an update from London, England.

    It explores the Korean Take-over of the Black Beauty Supply and Hair biz..

    The current situation makes it hard to believe that Madame C.J. Walker once ran the whole thing.

    I am not a hater, I am a motivator.

    Plus I am a White guy who stumbled upon this, and felt it was so wrong I had to make a film about it.

    self-funded film, made from the heart.

    Can it be taken back?

    Link

  4. jdid says:

    lol, this debate will go on forever. why dont we just look at it as being really great that the ladies have so many options. plus from a fashion perspective every style dont suit everybody so some people look better with conditioned hair than with natural and vice versa

  5. Kami says:

    I see my hair as just hair and there for me to do whatever strikes my fancy. Others see it as “good hair” and something to cherish

  6. experienceaurie says:

    This debate will never end… Many of my female friends have expressed their struggle with how to proceed with hairstyles, etc. I can see through their experiences that a lot has to do with ideally what is manageable and what gives the best options/looks.
    The politicized aspect of the debate is really just a representation of bigger cultural, historical, and unsolved societal issues dealing with race and race relationships. Some choose to embrace the debate and take a stand one way or the other, others ignore it, and yet still others don’t even care. It’s never really about the hair, but about what people want their self-images to represent to others within their own communities and to the wider body politic.

    Personally, I feel for my sisters having to damage their hair for a certain look. I encourage everyone to find comfort in their own uniqueness.

    One Love

  7. gabriella kadar says:

    I have so little melanin, that I my complexion is pink. However, I’m old enough and observant enough to report that all women, regardless of hair type are dissatisfied with their hair. Women with straight hair get it permed. Women with curly hair get it straightened. Women with dark hair get it streaked and highlighted. Women with light hair get it lightened even more.

    So?

    It’s not racial.

    It’s an estrogen problem.

  8. Stunner says:

    All my female friend who straightened their hair did it out of convenience. Some have now gone back natural since many salons now specialize in natural hair styles.

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About BBB
yingyangHi there! Pam Northman* (aka BlahBlohBlog) here, live and direct from Grenada. I'm a 40something, uber-liberal, working, single mother. In my time off I indulge my web, TV & pop culture addiction, revel in my attempts at nerd-girlishness and moonlight as a passionate Caribbeanista.
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