Saturday, June 14, 2008


i was over at grant park, mingling with about 4 other white moms whom i had just met. we were in line to sign up for swimming lessons and we were all talking about our kids and life, and then the discussion turned to hair. i actually wasn't saying a whole lot in the conversation when one of the moms started talking about those foamy pink rollers from back in the day, and how hideous they made her hair look. she turned to me and said, "you probably never had to worry about that, huh?" and then she looked uncomfortable like she thought maybe she had put her foot in her mouth.

i've probably never had to worry about that, huh? oh nooooo. never. never have i EVER tried to do any type of styling with my hair. in fact, i've never even heard of pink spongy rollers. this idea is completely foreign to me. us black people don't ever do stylish things to our hair.

hello. woman. what an idiot. i'm sure she meant nothing by it, but it just shows how ignorant some white people can be when it comes to what they think about black people. so then i started explaining about my hair, yadda, yadda, yadda, how i have it chemically relaxed, and yeah, i have attempted to curl it with rollers in my past thirtysomething years. another one of the white moms chimed in to say how she would 'die' for hair like mine. really?

let's think about that for a minute. she'd 'die' for what- my relaxed hair (which is actually in imitation of hers)? or the kinky stuff? which one?

i responded with "really???? REALLY???" and educated her on the fact that my hair, in it's natural state does not look like halle berry's or alicia keys, but more like jill scott's or macy gray. now. let's talk about how you could die for that.

and then i had to do some serious soul searchng--why is it that i assume that someone white would NEVER want my hair? is it really that bad? it must be, afterall, we (black people) don't even want it.


Brown Girl said...

Well, not all of us don't want it. I wear mine natural like Jill Scott and I LOVE it.

Kat said...

Hmm.. interesting. First, I LOVE my hair in its natural state but I chemically relaxed it, not because I don't like it but because it's simply convenient to fix on a day by day basis. I think it's ABSOLUTELY WRONG to assume black women hate their natural hair. I also think it is ABSOLUTELY WRONG to assume that if a black woman relax their hair then they hate their hair. There are some people who appreciate natural hair and some who do not but why should you worry about other people think whether they like it or not (natural or chemically relaxed). Be proud with what you have.

Jasmine said...

I'm not going to sit here and lie -my hair in it's natural state is off the chain. It has textures from all three sides (Black, White and Cherokee) and when I was little, it usually took more than one person to handle it. It was just a mass of naps, curls, waves -- all of it. When I was 10 or 11, that's when I first got my hair straightened.

I love seeing natural hair. It's so beautiful! I just finished my freshman year of college and I hate flat ironing, so I usually just wore my hair out and wavy, and most of my friends preferred that more than when I wore it long and straight.

But I'm not exactly the most energetic person in the world when it comes to my hair, and if I didn't keep on top of it - it could easily look like straight up crap. I have a lot of hair and it grows fast, and it's just easier for me to have it relaxed and just pin it up at night instead of doing anything else.

The only thing that gets me about people who wear their hair natural is that many wanna put down those who don't. Why? Why even try to create another divide in the Black community between natural and nonnatural hair? It just makes no sense. You're not smarter or better than me because your hair is natural, but unfortunately I've come across many people who try and make it seem that way.

Your hair is not bad. Why is it bad? Because it's not like white people's hair??? That's so sad, but I don't blame's just that slave mentality that's ingrained in our community. It pisses me off. It *so* weakens us as black women.

[By the way, she probably said she'd "die for" your hair because people often want what they can't or don't have. I always hear people say things like that, especially when it comes to hair.]

Anyway...there's something that I noticed...a lot of black women on television commercials have beautiful natural hair! I just realized that last night and it's SO nice to see!

Maybe when I grow up a little and get a little more responsible, I'll look into permanently going natural. But, until then, I have a couple other things to worry about than hair!

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of people assuming I think less of myself because I love makeup. No, makeup (or doing things to your hair) doesn't mean you hate yourself. Maybe it means you like to have fun.

Mommela said...

My stick-straight easy-to-get-static-y white-girl hair isn't nearly as drop dead gorgeous as my multiracial (African American/Caucasian/Eritrean) daughter's hair now that we've got her in Sisterlocks. I'd trade for her all-natural Sisterlocks in a heartbeat.

Anonymous said...

I saw a guy with a massive head of natural hair running down some stairs last week, and I was so jealous. It looked so healthy and it almost gave him this sense of power from my perspective.

who is annabelle blue? said...

I can totally relate to this post. Those comments have been said to me MILLIONS of times and I've learned to just smile and answer their questions because not everyone is well-versed in African-American hair.

I have been wearing my hair natural for almost two years and I will go ahead and say it- I'M PROUD OF IT!

It has taken a lot for me to stop chemically straightening my hair and I realize that there is nothing wrong with my hair in it's natural state. Granted, on hot 100 degree days I want to pull it out, but all in all, I'm PROUD of the curls and naps. It makes me feel more real. This is me.

I don't think black hair is "bad" as much as it oftentimes seems unmanageable and unpredictable, but that's okay. I think us black women are so used to being told how "horrible" and "difficult" our hair is that we rely on relaxers to try to live up to the European ideal.

I miss my sleek, straight, relaxed hair sometimes, but my hair is healthier, fuller and freer than before and more importantly, more me.

With that being said, if you don't want to wear your hair natural, don't. Life is too short to do things to "prove" to yourself or others. Just do what makes you happy and let go.

cardiowhore said...

Good Point TBG! beleive me, she dosent wnat it. There are a few whites that like black hair in its natural state, I have seen a few whites wear their version of dreadlocks! It still does not compare to kinky hair, but I thought you would be interested to know that my hairstylist is not black and she does a great job on my hair, I actually prefer to go to her than to a traditional black hair salon, so my stylist really enjoys doing my hair.

Kelly Williams said...

You people.......and yes I said you people............who don't like your hair in it's natural nappy state can speak for yourselves. And yes I said nappy too. I personally think that nappy hair can be positive thing if you want it to be. I love my nappy hair and we need to teach our children to love their nappy hair so that when anyone--white, black or other--gives them a compliment they can just say 'thank you' and be grateful for their God given beauty. So who's the idiot here? The white person who may not realize your hair is not naturally straight or you for playing yourself by telling the white woman that she couldn't possibly want 'bad black hair'. Maybe that's why you married a white man--so your children would have Alicia Keys' hair instead of Macy Gray's. You played yourself in that conversation and I hope your children weren't listening. And here's a probably shouldn't use the term 'we black people' because clearly you don't speak for all of us.

Taylor L. said...

@Mommela: Your daughter has SISTERLOCKS! AH! I'm so jealous! I wouldve gotten them if they were so pricey to maintain.

I absolutely LOVE my hair. I have (dread)locks, and have had them since January of 2007. They're getting long too. Almost to my shoulder!

But I've actually had a white person tell me that they wanted black hair. She said that you can do anything with your hair.

I told her she was absolutely correct.

Some black people have this conditioning wherein they believe their hair is too unruly or "nappy" to control. Not all of us though. I know my hair dresser relaxed her hair recently because it's easy to fix up in the morning. :P
On the other hand, you know there's a problem when you sport your Afro (like my sister) and someone tells you that you need a "damn perm".

That's how you know there's some self hatred going on inside.
Y'know, I recently went to Cedar point in Ohio, and started conversing with two younger white females, Shaylin, 12 and Desiree, 13.(I'm 17 btw. :D) They were real sweethearts too.

Well, we get the talking, and Desiree mentioned that she had a COLORED friend. Well, after the initial shock at hearing the term colored in 2008, I went on to explain to her that the term colored was obsolete.

I mean, I've seen Indian people darker than I am, so I wonder if colored just applied to black people in her mind.

She went into damage control mode and told me she thought that using "black" would be rude, so thought colored to be better. (wouldnt African American be better though?)

Then, she started talking about why she didnt understand racism and etc and etc....blah blah

I suppose this is just a case of ignorance concerning another culture. She was from a small predominately white town in Ohio, and might not know many black people. I know none of my white friends would call people colored. I suppose she just needs to get out more. I hope she learned from her mistake, because someone else might not be nearly as nice about being called colored.

Mommela said...

to Taylor I,

Yup, my 7-year old is coming up on her first anniversary with Sisterlocks. You sure were right about the expense, though. Her locking session was $800 incl. tips to the four women who worked on her (37 hours in the chair, over 50 woman-hours and 4 days); plus $140 retightenings every 6w for the first 7 months.


Now that they're established, I do two retightenings for every one at the salon so that expense has decreased. As they mature, we'll eliminate salon retightenings except for 2-4 a year. From what friends tell me, an annual investment of $300 in their processed hair is getting off cheaply. Sisterlocks require no product and we can style her hair differently everyday.

You can see her on the home page and see the whole process at Scroll down to Leandrea. I'm in there too with what we refer to as "plain old boring straight hair."

The most important part of why we chose to do Sisterlocks is because they allow her to really love her hair the way it comes out of her head, with all her twists, kinks, naps, and curls. The last thing I want for my daughter is for her to buy into the prevailing concept of "beauty" that, by its definition, excludes her.

you cant define me said...

This comment is for Taylor, about the whole "colored" thing. Personally i wouldnt mind being called a colored. In fact i rather be called a colored rather than african american because i just so happen to not be american. I wouldnt mind being called black either, but their are those who do. Theyll tell you that they arent black if you called them that. They would say that they are brown or caramel or mocha, anything but black, even if they are darer than... say... eddie murphy. Sad but true. So maybe you shouldve cut the girl some slack.

Anonymous said...

Are you still posting to this blog?

Trula said...

Another vote for speak for yourself!! Some of us really love our natural hair. and yes, there are white people who want hair like ours. I felt a little sad for you reading this post.

Anonymous said...

Don't you live in Roseway? Why are you always hanging out at Grant Park, then coming with some imaginary reason to bitch about how you don't feel accepted there? What's wrong with the parks closer to home?

TBG said...

Actually, Not quite that far , I live in Rose city park which is pretty close to Grant park

naturalmel said...

I live in an all white neighborhood in tampa florida, when I go to the pool with my afro all out and about, they STARE! Once I had this lady ask me about how our hair"works" cause when i went into the pool it was all crazy wild (think maxwell) and when I got out of the pool it was (of course) wet and hanging down so she wanted to know how I could possibly "comb through that mane" you should have seen her big bulging eyes.

on another note, I know plenty of us who like our hair, including me :)

Anonymous said...

If someone makes a comment with no negative intent... and especially if they know they maybe made a mistake, I'd hope you wouldn't be too hard on them.

Many white people feel as if they're walking on eggshells when discussing anything "black"... and if the response is to call them "idiots" when they use the word "colored" instead of "people of color", or say something clueless about hair... the result is that white people will avoid "black" issues, and remember YOUR rudeness, whether it's "justified" or not.

Lighten up... just a little. I've commented here before, and there's been times I've told the group to lighten up in their response to you... but this time I think the truth is on the other side, to be fair.

dalia said...

i get a lot of comments from white girls and other girls about my hair in its natural state. always positive.

sometimes, a comment is just a comment. nothing was intended by it. they love your hair as they see it. what the fug do they know about naps and kinks? they were just trying to be inclusive.

gloomgurl said...

this subject is one that most white people (who aren't celebrities, because they know) will always fall clueless to. i hate doing my hair at all costs. for the past year and a half, my sister have been braiding my hair every 3 to 4 weeks. most times when she redo them, i ask her to make them long. well, recently i asked her to make them shoulder length. a white friend of mine, thought i had cut my hair and she was making a big deal out of it like it was actually my real hair. i didn't feel like explaining extensions to her so i just let her believe what she wanted to. but a few weeks later (keep in mind, she didn't see me for a while) i asked my sis to make them long again, and when i saw her she was like, "so, you let your hair grow back" she was so happy and excited, that yet again, i did not feel like explaining it to her. i think that i have been getting braids so long that even the black people i know think it's my hair, so i guess i don't have to say anything. i only wish my hair could grow that long. believe me i have tried in the past. one time i buzzed all my hair off one summer, in an attempt to go completely natural but when it grew back, it just grew to the same length that I always had. So I gave up and begin braiding my hair. It’s easy to manage and I look nice, and that’s all I want.

Anonymous said...

I didn't watch that hair movie that was out recently but a white female at my job was asking me about it. She was fascinated. I wear long curly extensions that most whites assume is my hair. Even if they know other extensions are fake, they are not used to the curly ones and assume that if it is curly that has to be "black" hair.

And, I can't believe that someone said that makeup is the same. That makes no sense and is offensive to the identity struggle that black women sometimes have.

Anonymous said...

You remind me of the black woman who called to complain to Laura Schlessinger about her husband's racist family and then got mad when Laura called her a n.....

Really? So you marry into a racist family, get mad when they continue to be racist, and then call another racist to cry on her shoulder? And you think that your husband who got this racism with his mother's milk does not share in the family's attitudes? See to me, the real crime here wasn't what Laura said, it was that this coonish woman called in to complain tho her. Are you kidding me?

As for this hair episode, if you had some pride, or some black friends, you wouldn't care what this white woman thought or said about your hair. I guarantee you she could care less what you say about hers. But you live in Portland, you are married to your white man, and you need these white folks to accept and like you, and you complain to your coonish sisters when they don't.

But. they. never. will. Not because they are not good people, but because they have been raised, conditioned, and socialized not to.

Anonymous said...

I can almost guarantee, as a white woman, that they were simply trying to compliment you.

A lot of black hairstyles seem interesting and ornate to us, with braiding that we don't understand, styles we could never master, and shapes we could never pull off because our hair is too soft.

They are ignorant for not realizing that the comment invalidates you and singles you out. She said it without realizing it would immediately call attention to your race. And yes, they were probably trying too hard to make you feel fit in and accepted, which generally tends to backfire.

Some white people will assume that you must always be self-conscious about your race. In their mind, how could you not? They don't know what it's like to black and probably just assume it makes you constantly uncomfortable at some basic level. All they know about being black is through the media where it's either celebrated in black history month or covered in a sympathetic way like "black in america."

They're probably also scared of you thinking they are racist because it's so politically incorrect to be racist that, even if they are NOT racist, they will go waay out of their way to make sure other people know that. It's quite silly.

But yes, when I realize I will probably just end up putting my hair in a ponytail all summer and I know some black women get new styles regularly where they have so many options of how to wear it and get attention from friends when the style changes, I can see how a white woman could feel envious if her hair is very flat. Flat hair is not attractive to many people and she probably wants more volume.

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