i have this really great black girlfriend at work. i think she's cool because she wears her hair totally natural. it's not an afro; it's kind of just...there. she'll sometimes twist parts of it and then untwist it and just leave it hanging. i think she's awesome because she literally doesn't care what ANY one thinks. she's from the Bronx, new york and she's just...cool. she has a lot of guts to wear her hair the way she does. she's not even trying to make a statement. she's just natural.
so, yesterday, i was sitting around chatting with 3 white women and a different black woman with relaxed hair. the black woman jokingly says (in front of, and talking to me and the other white women) 'i seriously just want to take a flat iron and straighten her [the "natural" woman] hair. just once! that hair!' giggling the whole time.
that made me sick. i tried my best to defend my friend without making it an uncomfortable "thing". the woman who said these remarks is in her early 20's, where my "natural" friend is in her early 30s. i spoke up and said, "what's wrong with her hair??? it's her natural hair. you know, your hair would look like that too if you left yours natural" i kept it sweet and smiled while i spoke to keep it friendly but i could tell she was embarassed. she tried to make it better by saying, "well um, i mean, i just want to see what it would look like straight". so i spoke up again. i said, "i know that she'shas relaxed her hair in the past, and she chooses not to use chemical straighteners. i think she's just in a different 'place' than where you might be'". (major understatement considering this young, uneducated, unwed mom) she agreed and shut up about it.
but see people, my point is this: there are countless black women who think exactly like that. she had the nerve to say all this in front of all those white women. what does that say to them? i'm always defending the things i talk about here on my blog. people comment about me as if i'm the only black woman feeling these so-called feelings of self-hate, like i'm some freak-of-nature black woman feeling the way i do. as far as i'm concerned, the way i feel is just par for the course. it just comes with being black in america. and there are a lot of black women who are way worse than i am. at least i'm not as ignorant as my co-worker talking about hair straightening. although i care way too much what people think of me and the way i look, i at least know better. i know that the that the way i think is skewed a little when it comes to the whole black experience. i would never (especially in front of white people) talk about negative black issues.
i totally envy people like my "natural "friend who are brave enough to wear her hair natural. she doesn't even think twice while she's at her desk twisting or untwisting her hair. not even a little. how did I go wrong?
i thought about the conversation last night, and what it really meant, and how i reacted to that other black woman at work. and i realized that throughout my entire life i've heard other black women talk about skin color- who's lighter, who's darker, and the negativity associated with dark-skinnedness. i've also heard comments my whole life about hair. who has good hair, who doesn't. i've heard these type of comments from black women, and those comments scream of self-hate. if you are black, you know what i'm talking about. this is not new. but my point is this. i am DEFINITELY far from being the only black woman talking and thinking the way i do. my personal feelings are unique to me, but every single black woman who talks about good hair or light skin might as well write a "self hating" blog too, because they are just as bad as people think i am. AND THERE ARE A JILLION OF THEM.