A Space for People of Color, By People of Color. Be Cool.
A Space for People of Color, By People of Color. Be Cool.

Note: Before I start let me get this out there. I despise the Kardashians, they are a malignant mass of white womanhood whose pictures should probably show up in the dictionary as examples of people who indulge in cultural appropriation. I have decided that I am no longer going to bother to waste time trying to differentiate between the different bits of this malignant mass and from now on will only refer to any of them as a Kartrashian regardless of their last name. They don’t get to be individuals. Fuck them.

This is probably more of a rant than anything else but there has been a lot of idiocy and fuckery around discussions about hair this week and well, a slightly more involved exploration is in order.

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As we know last week there was a couple of articles on the main page that turned into a shitstorm of cluelessness and unexamined privilege surrounding the fuckery that is the flippant and disrespectful reply of a Kartrashian to the very mild reminder of the problem that is cultural appropriation. Of course there are people who basically tried to claim the lack of deal by talking about Black women straightening their hair and dying it blonde. This argument is stupid and shows an embarrassing amount of ignorance of history, English, and basic understanding of how society works. There are some very basic things that need to be understood to properly understand why the argument about black women straightening their hair and dying it as appropriation is idiocy.

Despite the delusions of so many people in this country we are not the equal society that the founding fathers made claim to want. From even before the Declaration of Independence this country was always about the freedom and betterment of white people and gave no fucks whatsoever about the well being of Black people (or any other people of color for that matter). In fact, Black people weren’t even counted as fully human and were no more than a tool with which rich concentration camp owners, (aka plantation owners) cultivated the land for profit. When the institutions of this country were created it was created with white people in mind, they didn’t intend to include Black people. Gaining personhood in the eyes of the law did not change these things. So if the institutions are geared toward white people, and the culture stems from a society whose members created that institution, whose features do you think are going to be shown as desirable, as ideal, as icons to be emulated? Is it going to be those of the people who created the media in which these people are shown or is it going to be of those who are seen as inferior and barely human?

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Given that the power in this country evolved from these blatantly racist beginnings, who is going to be forced to change how they look in order to better resemble that which is deemed desirable and ideal?

Also given that the definition of appropriation is to make something your own is it accurate to declare that Black women are appropriating white styling by straightening their hair or is it more apt that they are attempting to change their own features to more resemble the white aesthetic this country has? Does someone changing their own features in order to better resemble the ideal imposed on them by someone else meet the definition of making something their own? Does that imply a choice made out of freedom? Does that imply the power to say no and not worry about the repercussions? No? Congratulations, you’ve just figured out the difference between appropriation and assimilation. Now that we’ve established that let’s stop with the bullshit about Black women “appropriating” straight and/or blonde hair when the word you’re looking for is assimilation.

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Of course all of that ignores that fact that straight and/or blonde hair is not a trait that is strictly found in white people. Black people are not a completely alien version of human with genes that are completely out of line with white people’s genes. Black people, with no white ancestry, are capable of having red or blonde hair and blue eyes for that matter. We have the same genes; it’s a matter of what phenotypes are dominant and whatnot. However, since the nuances of the English language, which we all were supposed to learn about in school in this country, seems to have evaded these people and I’m not a geneticist I’ll refrain from a long discussion about genetics and just sum it up thusly; white people don’t have a lock on blonde hair or straight hair and no one is borrowing these things from you.

Now that we’ve gone over what is appropriation, what assimilation is, and how straight (or blonde) hair is not solely a natural trait for white people, let’s discuss another thing about hair discussions that is annoying the shit out of me; natural hair is limiting.

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Limiting how? If by limiting you mean to say that the number of styles that one can put one’s hair in is limited then you’re just wrong. You can do twist outs, braid outs, bantu knot outs, you can flat twist and leave it for awhile then leave your hair in a twist out, you can cornrow your hair then take it out and have a style. You can of course heat straighten and there are updos of various types and of course there’s the wash and go. How is that limiting? It’s more easily done than with straight limp hair. Straight hair doesn’t hold a twist or a braid without help. Granted the ability to do things with one’s hair may be limited by one’s skill but that part can be remedied.

Natural hair is not only not limiting it’s actually freeing. When I relaxed my hair I was in the beauty parlor (wasting time) every other week when times were good in order to have them either wash my hair or touch up the roots. I wouldn’t have dared consider moving too far away from home because I didn’t want to go through the trouble of having to deal with finding someone who I could trust to relax my hair. (Of course finding someone is easy enough; finding someone you know won’t jack up your head is another story altogether.) I tailored my activities to when my hair was last done. I stayed away from swimming pools because the effort needed to take care of my hair was more than I could manage given that I didn’t even wash my own hair. That was limiting. Going natural freed me from all that fuckery. I don’t need to go to the beauty parlor nearly as often and that time has been freed up for more enjoyable activities.

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If by limiting you mean it might hinder my ability to be hired in some places that is a possibility. However, that is not on natural hair; that’s on white supremacy. Any office that doesn’t want me and my natural hair is one that doesn’t really want me anyway and it is likely that there’s a problem there with racism and I don’t need to subject myself to that kind of bullshit anyway.

And lastly for all those people who accuse me of making things “political.” In the 19th century Black women were not, by law, allowed to wear their hair out in public.

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“But that happened in the past.”

Yes it is the past and it bears repeating. Why? Because the past affects our present and shapes the future and for some reason people are either incapable or unwilling to understand this simple concept. White people having issues with Black hair, especially the hair of Black women is still a problem. Black women have been subjected to firing because of their natural hair. The ability to be able to make a living and take care of oneself is political as hell and when the power structure uses your hair to keep you from being able to do these things that is a political act. So when styles that get Black women fired are praised on white women, that is a problem and it has to be solved via politics. When people accuse me of making things hair political, they’re just wrong. Our hair has always been political and to declare that “it’s just hair you’re making it political” as a brush off is to display the type of privilege that a white supremacist system allows to happen. Dismantling that system is also political as hell

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Feel free to add any hair related topics that come to mind.

Until next time...

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