Beyoncé at the 2016 Superbowl

How Can Beyoncé Be Pro-Black While Wearing a Blonde Weave?

This post was originally a Facebook note, and is simply being republished here.

While the world was losing their minds over Beyoncé’s new music video and her Superbowl performance, a question was brought up: How can she be pro-black while wearing a blonde weave?

And there’s some clear reasoning behind this question. Having straighter, blonder hair is seen as more attractive and desirable in our society due to white supremacy. There are papers on top of papers on the history of black hair and how black women have tried to seem as white as possible by giving into this white supremacy and putting chemicals in their hair, wearing wigs, or getting weaves in order to reject their roots and be more like the white woman.

I personally would probably never straighten my hair, it’s not a thing that my immediate family does. We take pride in our natural hair, and embrace it.

But the thing is, can someone else decide if someone is “black enough” based on their appearance? Of course not. Here’s an analogy: a woman calls herself a feminist, but she shaves her legs and under her arms. Now how can a woman truly be a feminist, and truly see men and women as equal, when she simply gives into the patriarchy by doing something unnatural to the hair she naturally has on her body?

Hopefully you can see that this is ridiculous. A woman can choose to shave, or not shave, and still be a feminist, it’s her choice. She can prefer to be hairless and still reject the idea that women have to follow ridiculous beauty standards. Back in high school and elementary school, when I saw a hairy girl I’d feel sorry for her, thinking that her parents wouldn’t let her shave and so she’d have to deal with the criticism of her peers (fun fact, I was one of those kids). But now in university, when I see a woman who’s hairy I’m impressed. Because I feel that she probably made her own choice whether or not to shave, and that she’s happy with it.

When a lot of black women have “the big chop” and go natural, they can face criticism as well from the black community, and women will often wonder if they’re unable to afford a weave and that’s why they’re choosing to go natural.

The problem with this is that we have this idea that there’s only one right way to be a feminist, or to be pro-black, but this is not the case. Yes, it would be good to see more women with body hair and more black women with natural hair and more women on TV without makeup on but not because it’s the right way to be, but because that’s the default. And if any woman chooses to do otherwise, whether straighten her hair or shave her legs or wear makeup, she should still be respected just as much, and her opinions on these things are still valid.

I don’t believe there’s hypocrisy in being pro-black and wearing a blonde weave. Especially since Beyoncé was celebrating natural hair in both her Formation music video and her Super Bowl performance. I didn’t see the black women there as props, I wanted to be one of them. I don’t think that her dancers were darker than she is in order to make her seem “superior” by having the “fairer skin”, since I really wasn’t paying that much attention to Beyoncé as I was to everyone else.

Beyoncé’s performance and music video were celebrating blackness, even though the lyrics were mostly talking about how wonderful she is. Talking about how she likes her daughter’s afro, her Negro nose, and the aspects of southern black American culture shows to me that she’s pretty pro-black, despite the weave. She also rocked her own natural hair in the music video, so I doubt she’s afraid to show it.

It would be nice if we weren’t so divisive when we see someone being proud of who they are. We can neither define someone’s pro-blackness nor their feminism for them, simply because we present ourselves differently. To me, Beyoncé has taken pride in her blackness, and made me as a black woman feel more empowered, and I think that’s what really matters if we’re gonna talk about how pro-black she is.

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