I have read two separate articles in the past two days, both about black people being upset about hair.
The first article I read, https://madamenoire.com/712002/happened-daughters-teacher-did-her-hair/, really didn’t make a ton of sense to me. At least, the reason behind the mother’s anger didn’t make a lot of sense. If you read the entire article you will see that the mother is upset for several reasons. One of which is that she doesn’t think her child’s natural hair should have been touched and made to look more “appropriate”. But the other one, is that she has a problem with the teacher doing her child’s hair because the teacher is white, and the child is black.
Now, I can understand her concerns about whose hairbrush was used, and if this hurt the child’s self esteem because maybe the teacher possibly pointed out the child’s messy hair while in front of the entire classroom. But these two things seem to get pushed to the wayside by the unnatural concerns about the fact that the teacher is white.
She even makes a statement about how she wouldn’t have had a problem if the teacher had been black because that would have meant another sister was looking out for her. She feels more strongly about the child being embarrassed because a white woman did her hair, than the fact that she let her child go to school with natural hair and it was put up because her child was hot while playing.
So my question about this is, what did I miss? Why is a white woman doing a black child’s hair a bad thing? The child was hot, the teacher did what she would have done, I assume, for any other child, black or white. The mother makes a lot of statements that make me uncomfortable. Statements like how a white woman just wants to touch black hair, and how she will do her child’s hair from now on so that no white person can ever touch it again.
I know there is a lot of talk lately about race relations in this country. Black Lives Matter and Police Brutality are major issues in the United States, but this to me, is just as important as those things. Black people are upset over everything. Things that I did not even realize you could be upset about.. And before anyone blows up about that, I know that not all black people are upset, but I also know that there are a lot of them that are.
I have had my hair cut by a black person. I have had my hair cut by a man. I don’t see a problem with someone different doing my hair. To be honest, the man actually does the best job cutting my hair. Why is there so much tension about race right now?
The second article I read, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/dear-khloe-cultural-appropriation-of-black-hairstyles_us_57b380cde4b014a587fba07c, was about women who are not black wearing black hairstyles. This too has apparently sparked an outrage. But why?
People have fought for many many years in this country to be the same. To be unified. To be integrated. Why are things like hair styles and skin color changing their minds? Because in this article they don’t want anyone who hasn’t “earned” the right to wear a black hairstyle to wear it.
How do you earn it? Well according to the article you have to be black.
Now, I am a Native American. I have a Caucasian father. I have family that has married into all sorts of different ethnicities. I don’t understand the problem with sharing cultures. I don’t see the problem with someone of a particular culture sharing something from a different culture.
Sharing cultural information is how civilizations have functioned for thousands of years. By sharing things like technology, people, knowledge, food.. You get a lot of cultural advances. Without cultures sharing food, the pilgrims wouldn’t have survived coming into America, without the sharing of knowledge and technology, the ancient civilizations like the Maya and the Aztec wouldn’t have the vast astronomical knowledge they had, or the technology to build their pyramids with such precision. Without the help of slaves, yes, I said slaves, the ancient Egyptians wouldn’t have the pyramids, and the Americans wouldn’t have had the vast cultivation that came with cotton and tobacco farming. But, without the slaves, yes, I said it again, those cultures, American, and Egyptian wouldn’t have the diversity in their bloodlines either.
So much has come out of sharing. Some of it great. Some of it not so great. But we keep moving forward. We try to learn from cultural mistakes and move on. Have we always done this effectively? Nope. We still had some segregation in the Americas, there are still cultures that aren’t as advanced as others, but why would we get to this point just to move backwards?
Because to me, it feels like this issue, the hair, is a step in the wrong direction. Taking every little thing to heart and wanting to keep things separate is not progress. It’s not cultural preservation. It’s segregation.
The thing we fought to be done with.
We all wanted to be one group of people. One nation. Americans. And now we don’t want that anymore. We want black people to be black, and only have their culture. White people should just be white and not borrow from the black culture.
There are so many double standards involved.
So what am I missing?
Where did we go so wrong that this seems like the only option for cultural preservation?
When did we have to EARN a hairstyle!?
As I sit here, my Native American self wearing my hair in a braid, I can’t help but wonder who would be upset right now.
I don’t have a headdress. I am not wearing a ribbon dress. I am not in traditional native attire. But am I borrowing a style? Is my hair another cultures? Did I EARN my right to wear these clothes? To have my hair in a braid? Did I EARN the right to have my skin look like this? To have my hair be this color?
Why do I have to EARN the way I look? The way I choose to dress? What is happening in this world?
What am I missing?