Following another week of hair-related scandals in entertainment and sports, my latest HuffPo article argues that there is more to the black hair conversation than shallowness or self loathing and that as long as black hair aesthetics are part of a complex social structure we should engage with the conversations critically rather than silence them or mock them for being superficial.
In a discussion on the MsAfropolitan FB page following the article, I wrote:
“We should be careful to trivialize the hair conversation because when we do, rather than critically engage with it, we also trivialize within its context the parallel conversation taking place, namely that which is dealing with such issues as internalized racism, the way beauty and sexism are linked, the process of healing from continued racist ideas in society, the commodification of white supremacist beauty ideals in black communities, bonding between black women over a shared hair trajectory, recreating ourselves and healing our bodies, and more. For many women, including myself, the process of quitting relaxing was one of healing and even though I’m aware that for many others it was an insignificant moment to do with finances/time, I think that the fact that the discussions are so rampant is a sign that they are needed and that we actually still do live in a society where black hair in all its many variations is a highly politicized issue [...] I think that by trivialising it we ignore the social relations that are being expressed. When black hair aesthetics are no longer part of a complex social structure, the convo will gradually fade out but in the meantime I think we should engage with it critically rather than silence it.”
What are your thoughts on talking hair politics? Can we separate the superficial from the psychological, cultural and political?
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