This was a truly profound and REAL conversation about the way Western and American culture views and treats beauty that sits outside of it's typical standards.
Actress Nicole Ari Parker of Broadway's Streetcar Named Desire, University of Pennsylvania professor Anthea Butler, cultural critic Joan Morgan, and CurlyNikki.com founder Nikki Walton, sit down with Melissa Harris-Perry to talk about the political messages behind black hair and hairstyles.
Editor’s Note: This set of videos is a classic throwback journalistic piece, in case you haven't seen it they talk about how more women have turned towards going natural since 2007 and are changing the economy of black hair.
The ladies really lay it out on the line in this heartfelt conversation, they speak very honestly about their feelings, how having children changed their perspective on their own hair and how America's view on black hair impacts the psyche of black women in their own self-perception.
They talk about the importance of telling little black girls how beautiful their hair is when doing their hair instead of saying derogatory remarks, like "you look a mess", "you ain't going outside looking like that" and "let's work on that kitchen". Here are our video highlights:
Would you feel,"some kinda way" if your daughter's teacher took it upon herself to change your child's hair because her hair appeared unkempt?
What about if she posted before and after pics to her Facebook account?
There’s a picture (to the left, to the left...) going around the social media world right now of a young black girl who had her hair done (quite beautifully, I might add...) by her teacher in class because her hair had lint in it and it looked a bit uncared for.
It seems that the child's teacher had her heart in the right place, she wanted the little girl to look good and feel good about herself.
She decided she would give the little girl a new "do" and brighten up her day. But if she had permission to do so or not is not very clear. And if she did have permission to do it, did she also have permission to post pics of the child on social media?
I'd think that would be more than a little bit embarrassing for the parents, even if they were happy about the hair help. Check out the Facebook post below.
I have serious doubts that the little girl's parent would take kindly to the description of her hair when she entered class, even if the description was somewhat accurate. She writes:
So one of my students came to school today with he hair full of knots, lent [sic], and ridiculously tangled. It looked like it hand’t been touched the entire holiday break…so my classroom became a salon. The photo on the left is before and the right after . It just broke my heart so badly that I refused to let her leave school today the same way she came. When I finished she looked at herself and said “aww so pretty”…the beauty is that she is normally non-verbal. So now I’m crying lol. My day has been made!
Do you think this teacher was out-of-line or just being a good-hearted helper to the child that couldn't resist doing something nice?
I personally think she did a nice thing out of kindness when she did the girls hair, BUT, if she didn't have permission she still was out-of-line. Even so, it was nice for the little girl, and probably very embarrassing to the parents.
Especially after it went viral on the net. At least the teacher didn't show the girl's face though.
In the end, the teacher should not be villianized for her actions, but she may want to be more conscious of her boundaries with other people's children. And maybe the girl's parents will be more conscious of getting the lint out of that baby's hair before she goes into public.
UPDATE! 11:45 AM 1/11/2015
Although we still have not heard anything from the parents, one woman is claiming to know the teacher and be a part of her Facebook group. She claims that the teacher had permission to do the girl's hair as well as post pics of it online. This is just one woman's claim, so take it for what it's worth.
What do you think about this situation? Comment below.
Let me paint you a picture. For many of you, it is a picture that will look familiar; a picture that describes the humiliation and fury millions of black women feel on a regular basis all across America.
Your hair is in need of professional attention, so you head to your favorite salon. You get there and you take a seat in the waiting area. And you wait. And you wait. And…
Finally, you’re taken to the shampoo bowl, where you wait some more. Eventually, your hair gets washed and conditioned. And you wait—with a wet head. All the while, you listen to inane conversation not fit for public consumption.
You finally are ushered to the dryer, where you sit until the timer goes off. Then you sit and watch client after client go to your stylist’s chair to be serviced. You wonder where you fit in, whether you’ve been bypassed for someone with an appointment after yours.
Now you’re more than just anxious; now you’re angry. Angry and hungry. Just when you’re about to lose it, you get called over to the stylist’s chair. But it’s almost too late. You’re infuriated, disgusted and, above all, disappointed.
By the time you have been styled and stop at the front desk to pay, you’ve been there for six hours.
This is where black hair salons have, for decades, failed black women.
Editor’s Note: The ladies over at the Lipstick Alley forum are involved in a lively topic, the conversation started from of an article that was posted in 2012 but the problem is as big today as ever. "How long will women deal with shoddy service at black hair salons?".
As someone who has had to wait on many women(Mom, sisters, girlfriends, etc,) that were wasting the day away at the salon, I am interested in the answer. There's a saying, "it is what it is...", is that the point of view that has become the norm or should more be expected for your hard-earned dollars.
Why aren't more salons rising up to take advantage of the horrible customer service that runs rampant in the industry? The opportunity is there for the taking. I'm sure the women needing their hair done in under 5-7 hours without attitude would even pay more money for efficient service.
This is most definitely a hot-button subject, at the time of this writing that specific forum thread has hit the 5th page of comments and is still rolling. Please let me know in the comment section if you are still accepting bad service from your hair salon, if so, why? Here are our forum article highlights:
A little over a year ago, a group of black women caused quite a stir when they stood in New York City’s Union Square with signs that said, “You can touch my hair.”
Billed as an “interactive public art exhibit,” their event allowed anyone to “explore the tactile fascination with black hair by” touching real-life black hair on real-life black women.
Many black people were outraged at this display, but many were encouraged and uplifted.
Some thought the women subjected themselves to being treated like animals at a petting zoo. Some thought the women were opening lines of communication with people who may not understand ethic differences but aren't bad people because of that.
Look.... We're all human and want to be treated with equal respect. However, I think the main thing here is these beautiful black women are opening themselves up to the world in order to give insight to people who are curious, as well as shed some light on how women in general feel about their hair. As one woman in the video said, some women are more closed off, some are very open, and some feel their hair is an extension of their spirituality or their very being, so that is why it is so closely guarded. I think it's interesting that these women are willing to give this experience to people with absolutely none of black hair. Overall, I feel that without curiosity you can never learn or grow.
But yes, there is a definite line that shouldn't be crossed. Never force your curiosity on someone, especially if you don't know them. I think one of the women in the video was correct in saying that people should make friends first or at least be in a close enough relationship/acquaintance to warrant asking about personal hygiene. Giving compliments, admiring, asking how they get their hair so shiny, those things shouldn't be so taboo though.
At the end of the day, these videos are a nice gateway to not feel so shy or like it's taboo to talk or ask questions about things that we as humans have to deal with on a day-to-day basis like hair care, skin care, fashion, lifestyle etc. Just don't go touching people all random schmandom, you might get hurt that way. Here are our video highlights:
I think what is important about Viola Davis taking her wig off on How to Get Away With Murder is that it illustrates that there is a mask that women are thought to have to wear. For black women, it can be a more complex mask. Our culture has created a very limited view of what beauty is and can be.
Editor’s Note: I've always loved Tracee Ellis Ross and her hair. Being a Detroit boy myself I have a special place in my heart for Motown's own Diana Ross and her daughter. I have to agree with Tracee that it's so good to see natural black hair on TV. Little girls of all races need to see that in mainstream media and know that it's something beautiful. Here are our article highlights:
I am a black woman. I have kinky hair. I have full lips. I have very dark skin. I do not have a complex about it. And yet, at every turn, I’ve been made to feel like I should.
I often feel as though people see me and then form a narrative in their heads of my self-esteem -- a girl who grew up longing to be lighter skinned, who cried every night because she didn't look like Beyonce, a girl who had to scratch and fight to get over feeling ugly because she felt her dark complexion wasn't beautiful.
Comment Section Quote Of Note From Duni1: "Oh thank goodness. I'm in the same boat. I've never thought myself as being or not looking better then someone else of lighter skin or less kinky hair, but you would think I might have a complex if you listen to media.
I like myself and my hair and for some reason it seems to undermine the belief that i must have some sort of color-self-hatred.
I mean I do, but its generally about my weight and the fact that I have no clue how to wear makeup but can do my nails like a pro.
Other people feel odd about my skin color and I'm just like... you know what... you can go ahead and carry that torch for me... I'm going to continue with my life." Here are our article highlights:
Sims, in her unusual stand, contends that hair regulations are biased against the natural hairstyles of many African-American women, and her career is evidence they are ambiguous at best: She wore her hair in the same style for nine years in the Navy before being ordered to cut it.
She said: "I don't think I should be told that I have to straighten my hair in order to be within what they think the regulations are, and I don't think I should have to cover it up with a wig."
“I do think that it’s a race issue,” Sims said. “The majority of the hairstyles that have the strictest regulations are hairstyles that black women would wear.”
The Navy, however, argued that all dreadlocks are out of regs, and because she has refused to cut them or cover them up, moved to honorably discharge her for “serious misconduct.”
Editor’s Note: This story isn't a surprise to me, for the longest time natural black hair has been held in contempt. I find it weird that after years and years of wearing her hair in this manner, always neat, clean and within two inches of her head she suddenly is forced to change it or get out. The Navy has since relaxed their standards for women's hair but it's still slanted towards not fully accepting natural black hairstyles. But the story has a happy ending because Jessica aint sweatin' it, she got her discharge papers with her hair on her head and her dignity intact, now she's headed to Loyola University in Chicago where she will major in biology as a pre-med. Do your thang Jessica! Here are our article highlights:
(Go to full article)
I try to remember that there’s room to think about large-scale, urgent matters of social justice and microaggressions (a term that’s made a recent resurgence to refer to race-related, irksome interactions that add up and alienate people on a daily basis). Truthfully, anything to do with black women and hair runs a pretty high risk of slipping into the latter category.
Editor’s Note: Jenée Desmond-Harris delivers a useful answer to a question she received from a white gentleman. The man had given a compliment to a black woman who was rockin' an amazing afro. He wanted to know if he was out of place or not.
Personally, I find it a sad reality that society is so jacked up that we can't compliment someone without worrying if we are offending them, but when society is so laced with racism, prejudice and bias it's not a shock that people are wary of the intentions of comments from strangers who normally are not known to be complimentary towards anything out of the "mainstream" look. I hope that in the future natural women are truly accepted and get so many genuine compliments that it won't be an issue anymore. Here the 3 tips for successful complimenting:
(Go to full article)
Going natural was a lengthy and scary notion for me. Once I gained the confidence and the knowledge of the many health benefits to my psyche, skin, and hair — I still put it off.
This is a short journey of how I ditched my chemical relaxer, plus a few tips I discovered so you can go the natural route too.
Editor’s Note: Kristin is a brilliant writer that really makes you feel her journal to getting a beautiful head full of healthy, natural hair. I'm sure many women can relate to the pain and discomfort of getting a perm and Kristin cried and sobbed her way through it until she'd had enough.
It's a profound thought to think that just like Kristin, so many women haven't had healthy hair since childhood, as she says, 6th grade was the last time her hair was healthy(until now).
She got past her fears of thinking she'd end up dateless with short hair and did what she had to do to get her hair and HERSELF back. Here are our article highlights: