Friday, November 30, 2007

common

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.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

OK, i'm a white high school student living in portland right now.
so this reminded me of a situation i experienced last year. there is a girl in my class that is (for lack of better wording) a total nerd. She hardly ever talks, earns straight As, kisses up to the teacher, and just like the stereotypical nerd in high school movies, she is...not that experienced when it comes to fashion and beauty.
Every day since i started at that school, she wears her shoulder length blonde hair down and natural. Her natural hair is frizzled and wavy.

I remember one time a girl asked her "_____, have you ever straightened your hair?"
I immediately recognized this as a backhanded comment that she should straighten her hair, therefore making her look "better."
The girl of course replied that no, she didn't ever straighten her hair.

To be honest, I think it would not be harmful for her to straighten her hair every once in a while. Okay, maybe she just doesn't care about her looks. But to be frank, her natural hair just doesn't look good.
To this day I still wonder whether she doesn't care about her looks, or if she's in rebel, or if she's never really considered straightening her hair..or what?

Now I'm assuming in your situation, the lady's hair is short? and just swiped back? (correct me if i'm wrong) ive seen that style before in black women and i love it. i've always wished i could get my hair to do that...it looks so casual and stylish. anyways - i'm getting off topic...

mendegirl@aol.com said...

If someone wrote a blog and mentioned "good" hair and such and it was linked on my "major" dialy newspaper's website, I would comment to her as well.

what's your point? That there are people who are worse than you? seriously?

Pat Buchanan is worse than Newt Gingirch IMO, but that doesn't mean it's all kool and the gang between Newt and myself.

Unwed motherhood? what's the world coming to? Good lord!

another anon said...

@ anonymous up there ^^^ at 4.04am, your point being??? So correct me if I am wrong...you assume if natural black hair is short and swiped back then it's cool and hey! you soooo want that kind of hair right?? Well hippy hippy hurray for you, you're so down with all them natural black folks ain't ya? Well give yo'self a pat on the back and head on back to class...high school was it? But....if the hair is long and full what then? It should be straightened because it would not look nice?? You know what, do not answer that because...I do not care what you think, neither should the "nerdy" white girl who as you so kindly put it - sucks up to teachers..and neither should ANY black person. Period. So keep your patronising opinions about black hair to yourself okay?
TBG - please stop wallowing in self pity because people who read your blog call you out on some controversial stuff you write - is that not the point to some degree? For what it is worth I commend you for speaking out in support of your colleague. It is incredibly damaging to grow up with a mindset tainted by colourism and the brown paper bag tests, good versus bad hair and all the usual rubbish. WTH! How can a group of people be so destructive to one another? So so sad. Is it because blacks were downtrodden and discriminated against that they too turn around and do the same to each other - the theory being that the abused and bullied end up as abusers and bullies themselves? Or is it leftover learned behaviour from the octoroon house slave versus darker field slave era? I just don't get it- black skin is absolutely beautiful - no matter the shade and kinky, coily, coily - whatever you choose to tag it - hair is eqaually gorgeous in all its soft, cottony glory. Period. Any woman of any colour should be allowed to wear her hair in any way she feels comfortable as long as it is neat and clean. Straightening is only another choice.
This may sound a tad mean - but thank goodness I live in Europe - where being different or unique is celebrated and admired..and where a gorgeous black woman rocking a 'fro or wild curls would bring traffic to a standstill - for all the right reasons.

Sparkle said...

There are alot of black women talking about good hair/nappy hair. Even the jackass Don Imus were referring to black women basketball players as "nappy headed" even though they all had relaxed hair. There are also black people who wear natural hair who are not trying to make a political statement. Some women are tired of chemicals being slathered on their head. I'm on the verge of going natural myself.

The Letter K said...

There are a lot of black women who choose to participate in this type of negativity, and there are a lot of black women who choose not to participate.

Every black woman (or man, for that matter) who has ever talked about "good hair", etc., is just as misguided as you are if you believe in such (silly)things.

speecialpants said...

Hi TBG, I'm glad you're still writing - I was feeling a little worried after your last post and the comments thread. You certainly incite a great deal of talk about race, something we need in our ever-sanitized Portland.

I had black girl friends in middle school and high school, and I always let them play with my hair (I'm white with naturally curly "big" hair). We'd talk about how lame it was that their hair was so wiry and hard to cope with. What's difficult about black people doing "what they want" with their hair is that it has various political implications (I can't imagine the burden, frankly). I think of the the conk, and of Malcolm X. In the end I think people ought to do what they want with their hair but that it's a good idea to think of where that "want" comes from.

If I were a black girl I'd love to think that I'd like to have a little afro. But I'm not fooling myself - black girls have a hard way of it. I say do what you want.

DMB said...

I'm just glad that you called that woman out on her statement! You made her think! Good.

I don't think we should sit idly by and let other Black people make such statements like that in front of white people. They need to realize that they are exposing their racial shame for all the world to see.

And I am not saying that any Black woman with chemically processed hair has racial shame. I am simply referring to Black people who make comments that OBVIOUSLY reveal they consider their natural characteristics (hair, skin, etc.) to be somehow inferior or less attractive.

Rhomea said...

I don't understand if you like natural why don't you where your hair natural? I also don't get the self loathing thing. I grew up in rural indiana, all white people, country music etc blah blah blah. But I definitely don't feel the same way you do about things. I feel sorry that you maybe passing your prejudices to your children and have them be like those type of biracial children who "don't know if I am black or white" etc.

Anonymous said...

i live in europe, too, and it never ceases to amaze me how americans (black and white) stress about black women's hair. from the editor of GLAMOUR who apparently recently told a room full of black female executives that dreadlocks (and the political statement they make) have no place in the boardroom, to the don imuses of the world, to the black (wo)men themselves who talk black - as long as the look is "sweetened" by a boatload of cream.

i've been a "happy nappy" for decades now, love my dreads, and get nothing but praise here for them. whenever a slight tone of criticism comes into play, i'm - you guessed it - in the states!

Anonymous said...

TBG, you say you'd never talk about black issues in front of white people? Uh...the internet is faceless. Many white folks have read your self-hating posts. I do appreciate your honesty when it comes to your views about black people. But now it's time to be honest with yourself. I'm 35 years old and still learning, and growing, and I don't excuse my ignorances by pointing out the ignorance in others.

I do hope you come to terms with being black AND beautiful. We have so much warmth and spirit and love within, but the media (and others) teach us to hide behind Gucci bags.

p.s. I'm a natural, fro-rocking diva who gets compliments all the time! I do battle with my hair quite often, but in the end, I win. Because no matter how wack I feel my hair is looking, I'm always going to be me, holding my head high and proud. I truly hope one day the same can happen for you.

(((Hugs)))

Anonymous said...

TBG, you say you'd never talk about black issues in front of white people? Uh...the internet is faceless. Many white folks have read your self-hating posts. I do appreciate your honesty when it comes to your views about black people. But now it's time to be honest with yourself. I'm 35 years old and still learning, and growing, and I don't excuse my ignorances by pointing out the ignorance in others.

I do hope you come to terms with being black AND beautiful. We have so much warmth and spirit and love within, but the media (and others) teach us to hide behind Gucci bags.

p.s. I'm a natural, fro-rocking diva who gets compliments all the time! I do battle with my hair quite often, but in the end, I win. Because no matter how wack I feel my hair is looking, I'm always going to be me, holding my head high and proud. I truly hope one day the same can happen for you.

(((Hugs)))

Anonymous said...

Oh my muther effin GOD! Why does everything on this blog have to be so politically correct? We are allowed to have opinions am I not right?
I'm always afraid to comment TBG's blogs now because there are so many bashers...once I state a simple thought or opinion someone has to start bashing what I say and think!
Patronizing opinion? My A**!
I am in no way racist or in the mindset that I am superior to anyone else! So stop acting like you know me! Will the hating ever end? How am I supposed to express my true opinion at the expense of being viciously insulted? You all DO NOT know me so don't assume that I think or act a certain way because you're most likely wrong, I guarantee you.

another anon said...

Oh please. don't go all high school drama on me. Listen carefully for this will not only be in plain English but it's the final time I will respond to you. The last term anyone would use to describe this blog or the comments posted in it would be PC. TBG is free to write whatever she wants on HER blog. She has also made it clear that these are raw thoughts - which she is well aware may elicit equally raw unflattering comments. I doubt that TBG writes about such racially charged issues solely for the purpose of receiving understanding or congruous responses. So this latest post is about issues surrounding colorism and the good hair/bad hair syndrome that appears to plague so many african-americans. COnsidering you are not AA your comment was at best meaningless at worst plain ignorant - and patronizing. Yeah, yeah I'm sure you have plenty of black friends, blah, blah, blah ...but the harsh reality is - unless you walk in another person's shoes you are unlikely to fully appreciate their lives or experiences.

Anonymous said...

When will this stop being about the commenters and about TBG. If something a poster said offends you, dont respond, this is not a blog to share your frustrations but a blog for TBG to gather a better understanding and get responses to her problems. Stop turning this into a high school fiasco. TBG can you delete the post that are responding to other people?

cardiowhore said...

Nappy! Kinky! Frizzy!Curly! Who gives a crap! we as individual women wear our hair as we see fit! What looks good to one will not look good to another no matter how you choose to wear your hair! What matters is if it is comfortable to you. That is the beauty of hair we can do what we want to it! TBG you are right you are not the only woman who feels as you do and yes there are plenty of black women that make negative comments about other black womens hair! I feel that these people are the ones who are ashamed and insecure about their own hair!

Hola, I'm JMac: said...

One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone makes fun of another person's personal appearance/style. It just reeks of insecurity and I don't understand why differences are so threatening to some people. If we all looked the same/wore our hair the same/wore "safe" clothes, how boring this world would be. It's nice that you stood up for her.

cwayne said...

cwayne

TBG, I've just stumbled onto your blog. Its quite interesting.

In spite of some of the apparent self-hate issue you may have that you attacked (well, thats kind of strong but you know what I mean) the black woman for criticizing your friend who wears her hair natural. Were you defending the hair style as being legitimate, or were you just defending your friend from an insult when she wasn't present to defend herself. Regardless, I agree with the sentiment and believe it was a "good thing" that you spoke up there.

The whole good hair/bad hair & light skin thing (or what we used to call being "colorstruck") is annoying.

Hopefully you will keep blogging. I'll be reading your previous installments.

Fakeo Nameo said...

my uncle had a beard for awhile. He looked terrible with a beard but he was making a political statement. Or that was his intent, he was not going to shave until (well now I can't remember what, maybe the end of hunger in the USA). Anyway it seems like any way that Black women wear their hair makes a political statement and maybe your colleague was just commenting on the fashion. I think natural hair looks great on Black women. I wish Dr. Rice would go for that look, but maybe I am in the minority.

SolShine7 said...

Interesting blog. I get what you're saying.

Emily said...

I'm a 38 year old white woman, and I've always been self-conscious of my body hair. My family is just very hairy, and over the years since puberty, I've done everything I can to rid myself of excess hair. Every now and then, I see women who don't shave their armpits or legs, or who have very noticeable facial hair. I have very conflicting reactions to this. On one hand, I'm embarassed for them, but on the other hand I wish I had the courage do let it all hang out like that.

Reading your blog and reflecting on my own experiences, I think that we all need to work a little harder to expand society's very narrow definition of beauty, and the first step is to stop sabotaging each other.

BlackButterfly said...

I can both empathize and sympathize with all that has been said in your post, I am a natural. I proudly wear my hair in it's natural state. I think the most criticism of my hair comes from my black counterparts. I like to sum it up with this statement that I've coined...."some of us don't even know that we are free", meaning they have NO idea that we are no longer in a box, like bees in the jars that have no idea the top is off...that's the way I classify folks like the lady you speak of in your post....just clueless....btw love your blog...keep it up!!

Shayna said...

p.s. I'm a natural, fro-rocking diva who gets compliments all the time!

And if you get compliments from white women, do you light them up the same way you did that young high school girl in the first comment?

Jesus God, can't people just accept compliments anymore without turning it into a racial slight? How on earth could you take the words "i love it" and "casual and stylish" and get offended? By someone's who's still a child, no less.

LeAnne@Hairs My Story Team said...

Hair is a funny thing in the black community. Ugly without it. White with it. Too dark to have curls. Too light to have kinks.



No wonder people laugh at us.smh.

But, good post.
once upon a time...hairs my story.com

Mina said...

I wear my hair natural and it's no political statement. I don't feel the need to relax it or straighten it. If someone doesn't like that, sounds like it's their problem and not mine.

keep it real said...

It's that hair thing again! Black women we are our own worst enemies when comes to hair. so ladies stop judging other women by their hair and do what makes you happy. White women stop trying to figure us out through the styles that we create whether their chemically straight or natural.

The Disturbing Dr. Purple said...

I'm white, but I know a little of what you mean. I think I've got hair a bit like your friend. I get so sick of people (particularly hairdressers) asking me if I straighten my hair, and telling me how I could spend some stupid amount of money to put chemicals on it, so I'd end up with hair just like theirs. :/

People need to accept that, amazingly enough, we don't all look the same.

Florida Girl said...

I'm a half black half white girl and I get crap like people asking me to straighten my hair. It looks exactly like full black hair because both my parents have curly hair. When I was younger I used to live in Fla. and I've worn my hair natural all the way until 6th grade and thought it looked nice and got a lot of compliments on it.Then I moved to Hawaii and get people asking me to straightening it. Anybody who can still have enough bravery and self love and acceptance is fine by me. It doesn't take straight hair to make someone pretty.

Anonymous said...

Here's the deal...I don't understand people attacking her for this post. And I don't understand (along with Shayna) the person who attacked a high school student who posted above just because she happens to be white.

Colorism is real. Issues with hair=real. Some people can't handle the truth and they respond with petty insults.

Anonymous said...

no tbg your not as ignorant...your worse.

APGifts said...

.

Since someone brought up the topic of 'house
and 'field' slave -- I just wanted to note
that -- actually --- this false concept
that so many people have -- that the
lighter-complexioned chattel slaves
“had it easier” or “thought they were
better” than the darker-complexioned slaves
– and / or “relaxed in the big house” while
the darker-complexioned slaves “suffered in
the fields” -- is very much like the infamous
‘Willie Lynch Letter’ Hoax) all VERY MUCH AN
URBAN MYTH (and is one which, in nearly every
way that’s possible, completely defies
the true historical recorded account.

The historical record shows that
those enslaved people who were of a
lighter-complexion (i.e. mulatto-lineage)
and that were found on the continental
United States during the antebellum
(chattel slavery) era were actually treated
MUCH, MUCH WORSE than were those enslaved
people who were of a darker-complexion.

In fact, record shows that most of the White
people (specially the White women) tended to
look upon the lighter-complexioned slaves
as being mere 'mongrels of miscegenation'
(resulting largely from the rapes caused
by overseers); in their disgust at the sight
of these slaves -- insisted that they be
"banished to the fields"; and also then
purposefully reserved most of the 'big
house' positions (ex. mammy, cook, driver,
etc) for the darker-complexioned slaves ---
who most of the White people perceived as
being "more loyal, docile, less competitive"
-- and, equally important, of a skin tone
which could never cause them to be mistaken
for 'white' or a possible member of
the plantation owners' own family.

And this maltreatment was generally
even much more so the case if the
lighter-complexioned enslaved person
was 'suspected' (by a wife, sister or
daughter -- who ran “the big house”,
while a ‘male’ family member ran “the
plantation”) of possibly being the
offspring of a plantation owner
(or his son, father or brother).

In addition, the few lighter-complexioned
enslaved people that were actually permitted
to do any work within the house were – as
punishment for having the lowly status of
“mongrel” and in order to make sure they
did not become “too uppity” -- kept under
much more severe supervision (by both the
White women who ran the plantation household
and also by the darker-complexioned enslaved
people) and under much more severe work
detail than were most of the (more trusted)
darker-complexioned enslaved people.

Books by Deborah Gray White; Paula Giddings;
J. California Cooper; bell hooks’, etc.
expose the truth about the urban-myth and
show that the lighter slaves received NO
special treatment and were (as mere "mongrels
of miscegenation") usually treated much
worse than were darker-complexioned slaves.


Hope this information is helpful
& that everyone has a great day. :D

-- AP (soaptalk@hotmail.com)


http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed

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