Long as there’s been Black folk in America, there’s been this and that about hair. So-and-so’s is nappy. The other one has a process. Or get out the straightening comb (God help those poor, scalded scalps of the 1950s and ’60s).
We’ve pretty much solved the problem of whether one grade of hair is better than another: Black women have got to the point where they wear a wide range of hair textures. So really, any hair that covers your head is good hair – perfectly good hair.
The height of absurdity, a hubbub recently took place over President Barack Obama’s daughter, 11-year-old Malia Obama, wearing her hair in twists when the First Family visited Rome this past summer. Believe it or not, those nitwits over at the conservative blog Free Republic trash-talked this lovely young lady with such tripe as saying she was unfit to represent America for not wearing straight hair.
Those Neanderthals have a hell of a lot of nerve. Just who do they think they are to sit on their delusions of superiority and wax ignorant? They can be just as stuck with their heads up their behinds as they want to be, but it’s a damn shame they have to insult Black females and offend civilized people in general with their backward mentality.
It is also sure-fire fighting words to any self-respecting Black man walking around drawing breath. And, frankly, I’m surprised Barack Obama and really disappointed Michelle Obama didn’t blast the morons. There is a time and place for being correct and wonderfully accepted by White folk, and there’s a time to put jackasses in check.
One of the most wonderful things about our women is that they have been dealt dirt by this society, told they must aspire to the White idea of womanhood and, like no other women of color, have turned it on America and, in turn, the world, with a sweet vengeance. There are those who resemble, say, Vanessa Williams, two shades off a banana, sliver lipped and narrow nosed. There are those who resemble Alfre Woodard with Negroid facial features and a body like the map of Africa. And she can wear any hairstyle from Afro to flaxen. There are those in between.
Bottom line, the image of African American women today is a panorama. Doesn’t make the least bit of sense, at this date in time, to be hung up about some hair.
Ingrid Banks, associate professor of Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told the New York Times, “For Black women, you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If you’ve got straight hair, you’re pegged as selling out. If you don’t straighten your hair, you’re seen as not practicing appropriate groom[ing] practices.”
Damned if they do, and damned if they don’t? It’s high time that changed to “Anybody don’t like it can kiss my Black…,” well you get the idea.
Chris Rock’s got a documentary out now – Paul Mooney’s in it – called Good Hair. The film copped a jury prize at a Sundance Film Festival. Haven’t seen it, but I trust Chris Rock’s cultural integrity and know damn good and well Paul Mooney is not going for the dumb stuff.
It’d tickle me half to death if Good Hair does anything to help bolster the self-esteem of Black women and girls, whether their hair is nappy as a rug, curly as some Arby’s French fries, straight as a ruler, or they’re bald as an egg.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.