Sew-ins, stereotypes, peace and hair grease

“Y’all just used light-skinned girls with good hair,” said a few disgruntled readers (perhaps photo viewers is more accurate) of last week’s natural hair feature page in The Gramblinite.The fact that Black college students attending an HBCU can say “good hair” with a straight face is problematic.

Good hair does not exist, but colonized minds still do.

After the release of last week’s paper, it became apparent that many Black people still employ paper bag and ruler tests of Blackness.

These self-appointed gatekeepers of African aesthetics believed that the photographed women were not enough, though as an editor, I must add that we had permission to use their photos.

Also, other women were invited to be photographed and did not show up.
So the street committee decided that the photographed women had too little pigment and too loose curls to authentically understand the Black woman’s beauty struggle. Or something.

Many in our GSU family still have slavish pathologies that they project onto others, as evidenced by the recurrence of isolating commentary.

Complexion wars are way outdated, although they still occur; but, it seems that a more nuanced form of intra-racial separation is hair drama.

Natural versus permed. Colored versus not. Woven versus scalp grown.
However, Blackness is to us what words are to love.

We all express it differently. While matted hair growing in its natural direction is my hairstyle of choice and part of my pro-self identity, I don’t look down upon women with faux follicles that serve as an extension of their realities and creativity.

If you want to weave it and achieve it, that’s none of anyone else’s business.
Too often, naturalistas believe we must poke fun at women who are loyal to relaxers.
Too often, the un-weaved pass surface judgment on women with tracks.

Too often, women with relaxers believe that their hair is automatically under scrutiny of the world’s coarse and coiled jury.
Thou doth protest too much.

The pursuit of beauty is a global phenomenon. Trying to be pretty (however that looks to us) does not automatically negate one’s Blackness or inherently convey a lack of self-love.

It can, but it’s not a given that someone with Just For Me on her roots and a sew-in down her back is automatically the “conscious” (read: nappy) sista’s enemy.
Newsflash: everyone who is nappy is not happy and/or conscious to begin with.

If anything, seemingly earthy, stereotypical, pseudo-revolutionaries can be the most dangerous because people view their appearance as evidence of a humanism that some believe automatically comes with puffy hair and a peace purse.

Monolithic Blackness does not exist. We are the result of complexity- built by beliefs and practices as varied as our cultures.

We are more than our appearances, although infatuation with image drives the American beauty industry to make $50 billion yearly, according to www.alternet.org.

So, yes. Money talks. And so does everyone else. Someone will always criticize how we are assembled and what we choose to accept or change.

Just remember that true beauty thrives when we stop making simplistic assessments based on melanin, hair and everything in between.