Friday, November 20, 2009


Last semester my cultural anthropology professor posed the question "what is the value of hair and what are its implications?". For me as an African American, hair is one of the most if not the most sensitive subjects within our race. Hair has been such a pervasive issue in our community that Chris Rock decided to direct a movie, all about black hair. As a black person, hair and its importance is something learned from birth. Little black girls are scolded by their mothers for "sweatin' out their perm" or getting their hair wet, in essence ruining the masterpiece that often takes hours to create. black men (myself included) are conditioned to brush our hair every night, add a little water, pomade and a wave cap in hopes that when we wake up in the morning our hair is flat and wavy. We have so many terms to describe bad hair that it begs the question "what is bad hair anyway?". Nigga naps,the kitchen, bead d beads, cabbage patch, nappy headed are all words that black people frequent to describe their hair yet there is only one word that describes desirable hair.."good hair". Why do we have so many words that negatively describe our hair? Is this a sign of self hatred? If so, does it have its roots in slavery? I believe so. There was a time in this country when a black woman could not get a job as a washerwoman if she didn't have her hair straightened. My mom has always been complemented on her long straight hair but even when she went natural it posed a problem in the office. I've noticed over the years that black women do their hair as if they're angry with it or fighting it. Violently laying it down with heavy pomade, literall burning it with a hot comb or burning their scalp with relaxers. The other day I was hanging out with my Dominican friends and they unknowingly showed their prejudice. First off, it is evident that many Hispanic countries have a high population of Africans. In the Dominican Republic 90% of the people have African ancestry yet know one calls themselves black, instead they say a softer word "Morena" which means brown. Many black women go to Dominican "doobie" shops, claiming that they know how to do hair better then some black salons. The fact that Dominicans know how to do our hair (or their hair whichever you prefer) better then us proves the hypocrisy of their prejudice. My Dominican friend said that his mom hates black people but her grandfather was black. He even pointed out that you can see her African ancestry because she has bad hair. I said "whats bad hair?" He stumbled for a moment, realizing that I was correcting him and said "well you know...nappy". I was irritated and insulted at first but then I realized that I have often harbored the same sentiments about black hair. There have been times when I've looked at people with really thick course hair and my reaction was like shock (and not in a good way). Often in our community good hair usually refers to hair that resembles European hair. My pastor, also inspired by Chirs Rocks movie preached a sermon about self love. He said many things that were profound but one statement stuck out. "Waves mean nothing without a WORD on the inside. The word of God will radiate from within you and you will be beautiful because of that alone. How can we sit here and reject what GOD has ordained as beautiful and adopt a human of the flesh concept of beauty?" I am in complete agreement with my pastor on this issue. Now that I have been enlightened on the subject I would submit to you that if you don't love you, it is irrational to think that someone else will.

Ya Basta,


Tuesday, March 10, 2009


We've all heard of Sexism and Racism but a new "ism" needs to be addressed. Since the 1600's ( the beginning of slavery in this country) there has been an obvious yet rarely discussed divide between light skinned and dark skinned blacks. This uncomfortable subject has been the "elephant in the room" for many black families at family reunions, funerals, church gatherings, and any were else that we congregate. Light skin has always been considered better because it is closer to white peoples complexion. In slavery, only light skinned blacks were allowed to work in the house and serve guests. How dysfunctional is it that these mulatto people were servants to their biological family. They were often products of their slave masters/ fathers insatiable lust for black women which led to rape. Could you imagine how insulting and earth shattering it would be to not only be the bastard child of the family, but to also be the families slave? None the less, Light skin was always considered better and Light skinned and dark skinned people have been divided ever since Willie Lynch stepped foot into the United States. Willie Lynch was a slave owner from the West Indies that insisted the only way to gain full control of African slaves was to divide them. His words have effected generations far beyond his death. Dark skinned people feel that they had it rough because they were told they were ugly. I assert that dark skinned people are not the only people that get made fun of. I know for myself as a light skinned person I had it bad as well. On one hand I was always told that I was handsome and that I had the nicest skin but there is another side to being light skinned that is not so pleasant. I was always ridiculed by other black kids who would say "light bright damn near white" or "you think your better" or "the blacker the berry the sweeter the juice". Honestly I always felt a little jealousy from dark skinned people because they internalized what others said about them. Even in when my mom and I go to Albany Georgia were my family is from, We get stared at and talked about as if we are "sellouts" and not family members. They would say "Look at red comin' over here" in a disgusted tone. I would go so far as to say that I got teased for being light skinned more than I ever heard a dark skinned person being teased. Maybe that's because by the time I was growing up ( in the 90's) it was not sociably acceptable to make negative comments about dark skinned people. It almost seemed as though there was a counter culture that said "Black is beautiful and the darker the better!" I must still sympathize with dark skinned people because as a light skinned person who was told by society that I was smarter, better looking, and classier, I can't begin to understand where they are coming from. It must be awful to be called ugly, ignorant, or ghetto to your face, simply because you are dark skinned. One thing I do know is that we really need to GET OVER IT. Because in the end, the skin tone issue was not ours to begin with. It was something slave owners made up, almost like a litmus test for African American beauty. Black is beautiful no matter what shade. My dark skinned friends often say "light skinned boys are played out". I must assert that no matter what trend is in envouge, I will always be in style! :-)
Ya basta,