Every time Willow does something to her hair the Black blogosphere goes crazy. One of the biggest reasons, I think some Black people have an issue with the Smith’s form of parenting is because this form of parenting doesn’t fit the “normal” Black parenting model. Too many of us either believe that we are either raised by The Huxtables, The Evans, or a crazy Madea. I call attention to these two tv families not because of their class and socioeconomic status, but because these are the two parenting styles that many of us believe that all Black people interfaced with. The Evans were strict and didn’t run a democratic household. While the Huxtables appeared to be more democratic, and tended to rationalize with their kids more, but at the end of the day it was Claire or Cliff’s way. The Smith’s in my opinion are not adopting a new parenting model, it simply may be new for many of us who are Black and Brown. Will and Jada don’t treat their children like objects that they posses or facsimiles of themselves. They see their roles as parents in relation to their kids in a more egalitarian fashion. Will and Jada approach their power as parents differently, their power that doesn’t seek to silence or oppress the power and individuality of their children.
Willow as a little girl is learning that she is a force to be reckoned with in this world, and that her gender, and gender presentation will not serve as impediments. Jada who is now championing the cause against human sex trafficking, of which girls are disproportionately victims, understands that women need to own themselves fully, if not someone else will. Girls are being trafficked at an alarming rate and not just abroad, but also in our own backyards. In the U.S. alone 80% of human sex trafficking victims are women and girls and 50% are minors. Jada is making the conscious choice to take her daughter along with her on her journey to help end human sex trafficking. In a world where little girls are raped, stolen, and sold as a commodity, hair isn’t all that important. Sometimes I wonder, have some of us adult Black women forgotten what it’s like to be a little Black girl in a white heterosexual patriarchal society? Again to quote Lorde, “easier to crucify myself in you than to take on the threatening universe of whiteness…” Our Black bodies and Black psyches are always being assailed and violated. Healthy validation is often hard to come by in these streets riddled with harassment. Therefore, let us save our vitriol and condemnation for more important things like the perpetuation of rape culture or Donald Trump.
We often find ourselves outraged when we see members of the white community diminish our women, and rightfully so. When Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) attacked the First Lady’s work to promote healthy eating by saying “She lectures us on eating right while she has a large posterior herself,” who among us wouldn’t be mad? How did he mistake her curvy body for being unhealthy? And why are we talking about her body at all? There is a long history of such disrespect, but there is also a history of the black community marginalizing and stereotyping our women as well. This isn’t to let the white community off the hook, but is to say we can’t let ourselves off the hook either. And Iconic comes out at a time when there has been much debate over the images of black women perpetuated throughout the black community.
While Iconic underscores the great affects the music and film industry has on images of black women, it leaves out one important industry: social media, where snide remarks can be elevated to public discourse. This summer, much attention was paid to the criticism of Gabby Douglas, whose pulled back hair was criticized by many black women on Twitter for not being properly done. Blog commenters also criticized Solange Knowles’ natural look for being “unkempt” and giving natural hair a bad name. Social media enables us to share our opinions in very public ways, making it possible for criticism and comments to be consumed and felt by those we’re discussing. Luckily, these two women let the comments roll off their shoulders. Just as Iconic highlights the power of styling black women’s hair, Douglas’ and Knowles’ ‘dos signify the practical hairstyling of an Olympian and the carefree spirit of an individual.
While these debates reveal the need for us to do better by black women, they also highlight the fact that in every instance, black women are the ones stepping up and expressing frustration that we’re still talking about these things–that the concept of the video girl is alive and well, that the angry black woman and mammy are go-to characters, and that our hair seems like it will always be a topic of conversation. Johnson concludes Iconic showing how the black women she features are able to combat negative stereotypes and pursue their goals, saying “their knowledge of these stereotypes helps them develop counterimages that support truths about themselves.” While we need to do better as a community, it’s not going to change overnight, but Iconic reminds us that black women have always risen above it all and will continue to rise.
These days, I, too, am something of a minimalist runner. I have been marathon training since my birthday two years ago and my lightweight racing flats have propelled me to eight and half minute splits on 30 plus miles a week although if 702 shuffles into rotation, I can break seven minutes. Of course, this feeble athleticism does not compare to the kinesthetic genius we are witnessing at the London 2012 Olympiad, particularly in track & field, which commenced Friday, and showcases athletes of the African diaspora. This heightened visibility has called my attention to the hairstyle choices of black women competitors. I know full well that the firestorm that has surrounded teen Gold-medal gymnast Gabby Douglas’ hair makes this a sore subject but know that my distress is rooted in love. I’m confused as to how heat-retaining, scalp-suffocating, and often weighty weaves lend themselves to peak performance.
My thick hair is hot on a warm day, let alone during a workout, and I can’t imagine sewing in more. I’ve never worn a weave, nor do I desire to, and, excepting about three years of my life, my hair has been relaxer-free. As a result, I have been able to vigorously c-walk (s/o Serena) to my heart’s content with little concern for root reversion. Madame C.J. Walker does occasionally call and on those occasions, I can’t front, I abstain from exertion for a week. You know how it is.
Beyond my skepticism about the practicality of a skull saddled with multiple packages of Indian Remy in elite competition (and a testament to our excellence is that we still slay), I am concerned about the witness it offers of our esteem, the invidiousness of European beauty standards, and the message our adaptations to them send young black girls interested in sport. I am saddened that so many of us equate looking our best with extension-assisted styles. Must we weave, wig, braid in extensions before we hit the pitch, track, mat, slough? I don’t buy that the ubiquity of yaki is about convenience. Show me the receipts. Only thing that accounts for our epidemic edge-sacrifice is history. We been making our way up the rough side of the mountain since the Middle Passage. Let’s have an honest conversation about what we do not because the world is watching but because we are, would-be Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryces and Sanya Richards Rosses. I’m not proposing a ban on sew-ins but having a conversation about our wholescale investment in them even in the most illogical of circumstances.
It’s a question President Obama has undoubtedly been asked before. It’s almost a universal African American experience, except this time it was asked under different circumstances and for a different reason.
“Can I touch your hair?”
The photo of this moment, three-years-old at this point, is making the rounds again. You’ve seen it in your inbox and on social networking sites—President Obama, bent at his waist while a five-year-old African American boy wearing a tie and dress pants touches his hair. It seems innocuous enough—meriting a few awwws certainly—but leaving some to wonder what all the fuss is about. Cute, sure. But is this news? Absolutely.
Hair can be an immense source of black pride but also a source of shame and identity confusion. It has been historically parodied and ridiculed. It has been caricatured. But what happens when this is presidential hair? By touching the president’s hair—hair like his own—Jacob not only got confirmation of the president’s blackness, but also of their shared experiences. It was a wise choice by a smart young man.
Perhaps then one of the president’s greatest legacies will ultimately be that his presence in office and his very physicality gestures to a new limitlessness for children of color—a limitlessness that seems granted to white American children by virtue of cultural inheritance.
We get some rather interesting press releases in the Racialicious mailbag. (And by interesting I mean “apparently the PR person doesn’t read the blog very closely.”)
This press release is the latest of the lot, which says said PR person missed the point of Fatemeh’s post about Shahs of Sunset.
Snark at will.
“SHAHS OF SUNSET” GLAMOUR GIRL GOLNESA GHARACHEDAGHI PARTNERS WITH EFFORTLESS EXTENSIONS
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
NEW YORK, NY — Golnesa “GG” Gharachedaghi, the self-proclaimed Persian princess of Bravo’s upcoming “Shah’s of Sunset,” is excited to be partnering with Hair Solutions by M.E., Inc., to form anew corporation, GMLD LLC, in promoting, GG’s Extensions by Effortless Extensions.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, , GG has spent most of her 29 years concentrating on beauty and fashion. GG started out in the industry as an assistant to a celebrity stylist. She then worked as a stylist on the set of “The Simple Life” with Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie and has worked as a senior stylist for “Belly Magazine” (a maternity fashion magazine). “Shahs of Sunset,” Ryan Seacrest’s latest production, will premier on Bravo Sunday, March 11, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT featuring GG, and five other successful Iranian-Americans. GG is thrilled about the launch of GMLD LLC, which offers her the opportunity to help women acquire the glamor and style they’ve longed for with these fabulous hair extensions.
In partnering with Effortless Extensions, GG is able to bring women the only patented extensions that do not have to be attached to hair in any way; they slip on an off in seconds without the hassle of clips, glue, or weaves. Literally anyone can put them in and style them in the privacy of their own homes, without the help of a professional. Watch for the premier of “Shahs of Sunset” in March, and release of GG’s Extensions by Effortless Extensions available for women everywhere !
For more information, please visit www.ggsextensions.com
Straight, curly, relaxed, or natural—it really shouldn’t matter how you wear your hair. And yet it does. Simply put, when one particular type of hair (kinky, or tightly coiled) is repeatedly demonized in the media, those who alter their appearance to mask that type are going to be scrutinized. Does she hate herself? Is she trying to pass as something that she is not?
For those happy and well-adjusted black women who have long since come to terms with negative media portrayals and still choose to wear relaxers or press their hair, these questions are infuriating. Can’t one simply desire a different look? After all, it is rare to encounter a white woman who has lightened her hair subsequently accused of despising her ethnic background. It’s just hair. I still press my hair occasionally, and any poor soul who had the audacity to question me about it would need at least a full day of mental recuperation from the verbal assault that would ensue.
Over in Marvel’s Wolverine and the X-Men, resident ingénue Idie Okonkwo has changed her hairstyle from a large, black afro to an equally cute straight, brown pixie cut. Normally, for a well-adjusted black teen who loved herself, such a change would not draw any attention. Nor should it.
However, Idie is not normal.