Disclaimer: I’d like to thank my homegirl Andrea for the inception with this topic.
Judging from the reaction to my post about Gabby Douglas yesterday, I think I touched a nerve. While the subject always seem to be taboo, the relationship between Black women and their hair is real son. In my lifetime, I’ve witnessed enough women wrap their hair, pat the top of their head and avoid water like the plague to feel somewhat comfortable talking about this. The constant journey to maintain “good hair” has crippled some women’s way of thinking, and the backlash against Gabby Douglas further proves that point.
When Chris Rock came out with his Good Hair documentary in 2009, there were a number of women who wanted to assault him. I’ve heard everything from “he shouldn’t have pulled that curtain back” to “not all Black women succumb to that way of thinking” and so on and so forth. The fact of the matter is, hair straightening and texturizing have historically been an integral part of the Black community, and if it wasn’t, Madam C.J. Walker wouldn’t have been the 1st African-American millionaire. Black men have also fallen victim to this way of thinking before, just take a look at the “conk” trend that was prevalent in the early to mid 1900s. Hell, Rev. Al Sharpton still walks around with that damn perm son. After hundreds of years of conditioning, our people tried to match the features of our Caucasian counterparts, damaging our self-esteem in the process. To me, criticism of Gabby Douglas’ hair is just a continuation of that conditioning. Instead of praising her ability, we’re questioning her appearance, as if she won’t be accepted based on her own merit. At this point, we’re the ones unnecessarily inflicting pain on ourselves.
All in all, I’m not trying to say all Black women feel this way. There are plenty of ladies who were outraged at the criticism of the young Olympic champion. However, based on the fact this story became news, it shows we’re still a ways away from being completely cleansed. Hopefully, talking about it can start the healing process. They always say admitting is the first step to quitting and there’s no time like the present. Let’s roll son!