On a Humble — Kendrick Lamar and black hair

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Twitter is supportive and yet oh so savage.

Over the past two days I’ve gained over 100 followers on Twitter. (I usually get 100 followers in a year). And I broke a personal record for the number of likes I usually get for the following tweets.

First tweet

And then the second tweet

A good amount of likes for one of my tweets usually is two. Two likes and I’m in heaven, just to give you an idea of how brand new I could have felt. And these likes were from black Twitter, which is like rolling up in the club with a mink coat on and being ushured to the VIP area and having Kevin Hart tell you private jokes all night.

But it was also my first Twitter mauling. And what a mauling, so much so I’ve had to chronicle it. Many more people took exception to my comments — which could have been worded better as they left way too much space for things to go left. That’s a lesson for me. Also perhaps not to touch one of black Twitter’s sacred cows ‘Kendrick Lemar’ again.

The issue in question was in some ways a small thing. It’s the little things that get under your skin, the small things allow for throwaway humour but are a reminder of the much bigger battles we have to fight everyday in the real world because of our skin colour. A throwaway remark about Maxine Water’s wig, something Lena Dunham said, Adele being a bit too gracious about giving a Grammy to Beyonce. Things turn on a hair pin in this world.

In Humble, which is a great track, Kendrick Lemar has this one line. It’s only one line but it’s quite irksome, accompanied by an annoying graphic of a black girl with slicked back hair and a made-up face then suddenly rolling curls and blemishes.

I’m so fuckin’ sick and tired of the Photoshop
Show me somethin’ natural like afro on Richard Pryor
Show me somethin’ natural like ass with some stretchmarks
Still will take you down right on your mama’s couch in Polo socks, ayy

You probably need to watch it. Go watch it.

Like even now I’m watching and thinking this got me so worked up? But guess what, don’t come for my hair bruh. When Solange sang Don’t touch my hair, she didn’t just mean your hand. She meant don’t come for me. The natural hair journey takes too damn long. Five years and counting. A bish sensitive.

I remember watching it and feeling uneasy. Then someone I follow just so eloquently put that unease into context that I had to comment. I had to support that. Probably should have just liked and kept it moving and skipped the fireworks.

Go find that thread for more — there’s a lot more and a whole lot more. It’s worth reading.

My interjection alluded to the hypocrisy of black men who only date very light/mixed/white women and yet don’t see the irony in lecturing to other black women, the ‘real’ black women who have to deal with so much rejection from black men on how to make ourselves more attractive. It’s ironic because the rejection is not our issue, it’s theirs. It’s their issue because darker-skinned black women with the ‘Richard Pryor’ afros don’t represent the kind of aspirational black most Black men want to date. Not all but it’s definitely a trend. Its the reason why most of the girls in the video are very light skinned, usually mixed, same for the black female love interests in so many films. The ballers and the rappers, the overwhelming picture is a preference for a non-black or mixed-black looking woman. It’s ironic because shadism, because misogynoir and because Tommy Sotomayor. I do believe they all mean well with their exhortations, Tommy Sotomayor’s fervent belief that black women shouldn’t wear ‘hair hats’ may have good intentions at its core, and when Tyrese says the reason we’re single is because of our fake hair (along with the other fakes) ‘real recognise real’ — I hear what you’re trying to say. But what they’re not addressing is the misogyny often directed at black women by black men. They’re not addressing these trends. They’re putting that all on us. Richard Pryor was a particularly myopic analogy by the way. Did he ever even date a black woman in his life?

Judging by the avatars of those who disagreed, a lot of them were black women of lighter complexions who felt insulted by my phrasing — implying a mixed woman was not black. That was poor phrasing on my part. A woman can be mixed and black. Kendrick’s partner is mixed and black (biracial and black). But she represents that other woman that Black men often have the prefence for. It wasn’t about denying her blackness, or saying he had run off with a white woman — dim allegations thrown at me from people who decided to make their feelings the story. It’s not about his dating choices per se, just the picture presented.

A lot of those commenting couldn’t even relate to the hurt some black women perceive in this video. There was no appreciation of how shadism has ravaged our community. I was pointing it out, not propping it up.

This riposte will no doubt inflame anew some of those people out there. At least there’s a little more context to those tweets now. Some things just need to be put out there as a starting point. But the reaction needed to be addressed. Not everything is black and white.