Updated: Jun 16, 2020
Welcome back to the I Am World section of I Am Woman and in this post we are going to be talking about hair, more specifically, black/ethnic hair. I think we are all aware of the racism that takes place in this world, black people especially have been at the foot end of all racism. Black men and women are constantly racially profiled, verbally abused, physically abused, however another silent killer of the oppression is the discrimination on women's hair not only within the work place, but at schools your children might attend.
For ages discrimination within the world of women has existed, up until this very day women of color have been mistreated because of how they choose to express themselves. In one way particularly is through the ridiculing of different hairstyles. Throughout the past year or two I have heard many instances where a person of color was persecuted due to how their hair was styled. But this is not a recent phenomenon, all throughout history there has been a heavy anti- black hair problem that has loomed over this country for centuries.
In 1786, down in New Orleans there was a law put in place to regulate and control the women of color’s hair styles. More recently in 2010, Chastity Jones had her job offer revoked because she would not cut her dreads off.
Just this year at a high school in Louisiana, USA, a senior by the name of Asia Simo was kicked off of her cheerleading team because her hair was constantly out of “uniform”. We later find out that she was out of uniform because the uniform called for hairstyles that were hard to easily achieve with her hair texture on a regular basis. Simo’s mom came out and said it was too time consuming and expensive to continuously get Asia’s hair done so that it would fit into these styles. I could only imagine how devastating this was for Asia because it was her senior year and prior to that she had been on the team for all of highschool and had even been the captain of the team. Imagine not being able to do the thing you love because your hair couldn’t always be done the way someone else wanted it.
Unfortunately this happens way more often within the world than we realize. In corporate America women see this kind of discrimation daily, it is considered unprofessional in some scenarios to have wild curls, or braids, or dreads. Many women with textured hair admit to tons of heat and chemical damage due to constantly trying to keep their hair straight so they can maintain a “professional” appearance. Imagine the money and time spent in hair salons by these women.
Another prominent industry that we see diminishes the beauty of curls, braids, and dreads is the beauty industry. How many of you out there with thick curly or coily hair have walked into a salon and the first thing the hairdresser says is “have you thought about a relaxer?” Or what about all the white, blonde, straight hair models that flash upon our TV’s. For those of you with textured hair, I’m sure you get a whirlwind of compliments when you straighten your hair, but where do they go when you’re having a great natural day? Hair holds such an importance for most women; it is a way they express themselves, yet it is so restricted as to what is appropriate, or fashionable, or tasteful.
With all that said I would like to ask each of you reading to forget about what others may think, forget about what others might consider acceptable and embrace what you have been created with. For so long women of color have damaged and worn out their beautiful hair, to fit in, or because it is too expensive, or because they just didn’t know better. It is high time that women of color took a stand against this form of discrimination, learn how to care for your hair and wear however you wish to.
Think about the younger girls that look up to you. Think about the powerful message you could be sending them by showing that you will wear and embrace your hair however you feel best in it. If you love your curls, nourish them and show them off. If you love braids, wear them with pride and happiness. If you love your dreads, continue to grow them and love them. It took me up until a year or two ago to truly love my thick, curly mop I wear on the top of my head and now that I know so much more I only wish to help others achieve the love I have for my hair.
I would also like to mention, this post does not go to diminish the progress that has been made within the world of beauty in providing more inclusivity for women of all colors, shapes, and sizes. However, black hair has not yet been normalized in society and we must make it our mission to make it happen.
For those you who struggle with loving your curls, coils, ad waves remember these words by Marcus Garvey:
“Don’t remove the kinks from your hair, remove them from your brain”
Thank you so much for reading guys, please feel free to continue the conversation below in the comments. I really love hearing your opinions on these topics! If you are looking for another article similar to this one check out Women in the Dark.
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