How discrimination based on hair texture is subconsciously nurtured in our minds and ways it disenfranchises black women
Since child hood I was ushered into a world full of twisted ideologies that perpetuated self-hate and lowered my self-esteem because of apparent anomalies presented to me regarding my black crispy and curly hair compared to what was and still is considered the standard of beauty (good hair). I grew up thinking that my hair was untidy, not presentable and should either be chemically straightened out or cut; but little did I know that a conscious plan intended to suppress my blackness was taking place right before my eyes. This enigmatic and appalling view of my hair sparked an infinitely unquenchable thirst for knowledge and information that would once and for all either justify the untidiness of my woolly hair, which I highly doubt, or otherwise expose nakedly any form of discrimination or conceptualized racial antagonism towards my hair.
The results were deeply unsettling as I unearthed an intricately interwoven correlation between slavery, colonialism, post colonialism and the demise of elaborate African grooming traditions which were strategically replaced with the notion that silky hair was the apex of beauty and prestige. Hard rooted in the foundations of our societies and schools since kindergarten, policies were put in place that required boys to cut their hair in a style commonly known as ‘Jordan’ named after the famous basketball player and entrepreneur Michael Jordan for his clean cut. No hair meant tidiness, intelligence and obedience but as soon as it grew back it was quickly associated with negative stereotypes such as: violence tendencies, dumbness and general unlawfulness.
Considering my age and innocence at that time, none of this stroke a nerve or had any negative physical effect on me because all I had to do was cut my hair short which seemed like a normal thing that everybody else did especially boys. However, as time went by I started realizing the profound damage it had impacted psychologically on my perception of beauty and in altering my view of a black woman’s hair oblivious to the fact that the same type of hair I ironically hated grew on my head. By unconsciously injecting this dose of sexism or gender discrimination, I further worsened the situation by directing it towards black girls at school, who even as young as four years old had to forcefully subject their hair to dangerous chemicals and heat that not only destroyed their scalps and hair texture all in the name of education and beauty, but also their femininity, attractiveness and sense of self-worth as they transitioned into woman hood.
This unrewarding standard of beauty adversely affected the black woman’s image taking it to a new low by seamlessly introducing weaves and human hair to cover up their scalp burns and lack of hair due to permanent hair loss and breakages caused by chemicals. But what I found most puzzling and hard to understand about this silky-woolly hair complex was the Black man’s attitude, arrogance, miss education and lack of appreciation for the black woman in her simple desire to look ‘beautiful’. In most cases we are the first ones to ridicule and embarrass our women by stripping them off their dignity because of the wigs they wear, but we are surprisingly the least equipped with fundamental knowledge about the severity and side effects of sodium hydroxide, how it damages hair and alters its pH balance.
We are the first to say how our ideal women should have long silky hair that the wind can blow through, yet we are hesitant to declare openly any sense of attractiveness towards our natural queens who embrace their true selves by rocking Twas, Bantu knots and Afros. This is not to say that black men are only limited to interacting with black women alone or are not allowed to day dream about running their fingers through long silky hair but rather my goal is to shade some much needed light on the effects of this imposed double standard of beauty that only succeeds at the expense of the black woman. As black men instead of bashing our women we should man up and share their convictions against objectification and hair discrimination by becoming more passionate and involved in uprooting this social vile that is covering up their beauty.
It should be our duty to spear head any changes we would like to see in black women by listening to them and trying to understand the challenges they face and coming up with feasible solutions by looking at the bigger picture. We cannot despise our women of steel who bore us, took care of us and raised us to be the great men we are now, simply because somebody else thinks they are not beautiful according to their corrupt standards. Let us start by admitting that our society has a big problem and agree to prioritize a gradual gravitation towards a more accepting standard of beauty that has no standard at all… because beauty solely lies in the eyes of the beholder regardless of color, size or hair texture.