Coffee Rhetoric: Black
Showing posts with label Black. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Black. Show all posts

July 21, 2009

It's a Mad Houuuuuuuse...

And I'm mad. If you've yet to read the media circus surrounding the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. then you're probably a bit perplexed by the public outrage... mostly by people of color. For those not in the know, Henry Louis Gates, Jr is a writer, literary critic, scholar extraordinaire, and tenured professor at Harvard University. He has hosted and produced compelling documentaries for PBS such as; American Lives and American Lives 2, where he helped noted Black American celebrities trace their lineage through DNA testing. Gates also created and edits an online magazine called The Root. So in summation, the man has the skills to pay the bills, and is a distinguished member of the literati. So it was with dismay and shock that many of us read that he had been arrested and taken into custody, where he was kept for 4 hours, before being released. Anger and exasperation soon followed after details of his arrest came to light.
Apparently, after returning from a trip to China where he was filming his latest documentary, Gates came home and discovered that his door was damaged, had jammed and so had problems entering his home. He then entered through the back, and he and the driver who transported him from the airport proceeded to try to pry the front door open. Upon doing so, said driver helped Gates bring his bags inside before driving off. Gates immediately got on the phone with the Harvard Real estate office to tell them about the damaged door. During his phone call, Gates noticed a police officer on his front porch. Through a recently released statement via an attorney/friend/colleague to the press, he would express his surprise at finding several police officers outside his residence. Apparently they were responding to a phone call placed by a neighbor- a 77 year old magazine fundraiser- that "two Black men with backpacks" were on Gates' front porch, one of whom was "wedging his shoulder into the door."
According to Gates' statement-After proving he was was a resident of the home, and after asking the interrogating officer for his badge number and name, and after showing substantial identification, the officer simply walked off sans an apology. Incensed (undestandably so) by the humiliation, Gates exclaimed that the police were displaying bias and being racist. To make a long story short, the police arrested him for "disorderly conduct" because he displayed "loud and tumulutous behavior."
I felt compelled to be thorough about the details leading up to his arrest, because general, mostly White consensus (because many have failed to read and grasp the details concerning the matter)- is that Gates deserved to be arrested, and that he had no right to question the obvious racial profiling that was taking place. To say I was upset by the comments displayed on the Boston Globes' comment board would be putting it mildly. I would then go on to read "Stop playing the Race Card" type propoganda on Facebook's "I Love Black People" board as well as on various other forums. Hence this blog post. One common thread in these comments were "Obama is the president, therefore RACISM NO LONGER EXISTS. GET OVER IT!"
Apparently ignorance is bliss for you naysayers. While it is true that minorities, namely Black folk, have made some strides... we have a looong path ahead of us. Uncompromising situations such as the one Gates experienced is demonstrative of that. How DARE you, having little knowledge about the daily struggles of minorities, tell us to get over it, and stop playing the race card?? I don't expect THE PRIVILEGED MAJORITY to even have an inkling of an idea of what it's like to have to fight to disprove racial stereotypes because people have no faith in your intellectual prowess. Until you many of you (this guy gets it)- take your heads out of your asses and stop pissing all over progress, then NO we will NOT get over it. Since when is it against the law and disorderly for one to express his opinion, on HIS PROPERTY? After Gates identified who he was and why he had to force his way into his home, the officer should have stopped questioning him, apologized for the intrustion, and moved on.
See, the visual that plays in my head, when I picture this happening to a White professor is as follows: Officer examines ID, and says, "Sorry to bother you and for the confusion Mr. Smith. Have a great day."
You mean to tell me that after a long trip, not being able to get into your house, and then having the coppers show up on your doorstep because of some busy body who thinks we're all suspect, to question you for only wanting to decompress that you wouldn't be ruffled by the experience?? Give me a break! You would be mad too! Period. The neighbor in question obviously thinks A Black man trying to force a door open, in broad daylight, whether she recognizes him, what was going on, or NOT, was suspect enough to call the cops rather than making sure she knew what she was seeing was in fact a burglary. While no charges have been filed against Henry Louis Gates, the scar still remains, and tax dollars have been wasted.
We will stop playing the RACE CARD, when it stops getting DEALT.
That is all.

May 16, 2009

The MYTH of Good/Bad Hair

This Saturday has been spent lazily drinking coffee, massaging my hair with coconut oil, twisting it, and pinning it up. While doing so, I caught up on some of my favorite "natural hair" blogs and YouTube videos, when I stumbled across this rambling discourse courtesy of this young woman who was adamant why she went natural, and how it wasn't to placate those of us women she deemed "Pro-Black" who are Happy to be Nappy. She flung her hair (she says it's natural, but it looked like a wash-and-go relaxer to me) to and fro, the whole time, much to my annoyance, "Becky" style. She said she went natural after she discovered that her own texture was "pretty" *insert side-eye here*. Then she railed against women who "denied" that there was such a thing as "good" and "bad" hair. "C'mon now, we all know the difference, so stop acting like there isn't a such thing as good hair and bad hair" she spouted off annoyingly. The rest of her rant, more or less emphasized how much she still enjoyed wearing hair weaves and she continued to perpetuate the Good vs Bad hair struggle Black American women can't seem to come to terms with. (There are three parts, but pt. I was more than enough for me. A commenter also took her to task over a few of her remarks). I agreed with most of what the commenter said... namely that Pretty Hair needed to visit this woman's YouTube page before she continued to toot her own texture's horn. Listen, I've worn my hair natural for about 10 years. My journey en-route, didn't come without a few bumps. When I first came back home from school, with my newly UN-RELAXED hair, I got some major side-eyes from other Black women whilst walking down the street. I was happy. I was proud. More importantly, I felt FREE. Going natural (while it can be just as high maintenance as maintaining straight hair) has truly be a LIBERATING experience for me. Initially I was a bit confused by the shade being thrown in my direction from other Black women. Eventually I stopped caring. I took this trip to please one person. MYSELF.
Listen, I love everything about my being (I have insecure hips and thighs days just like the next person), overall there is NOTHING about my Black-ness or self I regret, hate, or curse. I enjoy my complexion, I love that we span such a vast and wide spectrum of ethnicities, shapes, sizes, countries, languages, and shades, and I LOVE my hair existing in its natural-ness. I would never chastise another woman for choosing to relax, be-wig, or be-weave her tresses just like I wouldn't expect her to begrudge me my right to be who I am, NATURALLY... however, I think we need to get over this Good hair TEXTURE vs Bad hair TEXTURE debate, because essentially all it is, is a MYTH!!
Yes, I said it. It is a MYTH... at least it is, within the context of texture and length. Everyone has the ability to have GREAT hair, despite its length or texture. I've gotten nothing but positive feedback from people, who compliment me on my hair and the way that I style it. I get so sick to death of OTHER BLACK WOMEN who feel the need to validate WHY they straighten their hair or sew/glue in weaves, spouting off rhetoric and propoganda generated by the media about a specific STANDARD when it comes to beauty. Beauty is universal. There IS no standard as far as I'm concerned. Often, while browsing these hair forums and videos in search of new ideas and styles for MY type of hair, I'll come across the video of some poor, misguided soul talking about how unattractive, matted, uncontrollable, ugly, and unmanageable "nappy" hair is. While this way of life isn't for the faint of heart, I've seen some busted, bunk ass relaxers in-need and weaves myself, so the grass isn't always greener. Trust, I've been there! (On the relaxer side). I've also visited forums that showcase perfectly coiffed and well maintained natural Black hair.
We need to get off this kick already... "Oh my hair is sooo pretty, cuz it's sooooft and curly. It's not kinky and nappy and it straigtens with the flatiron so easily..." So effing what? The only person concerned with the texture of our hair is US. It's JUST HAIR. If you want to burn the life out of your hair follicles keeping it straight or wear weaves, it's your prerogative, but don't think for a minute that there is ONE SPECIFIC way that is BETTER than the other. It's neverending. I would actually die from shock, if we all sighed a collective, "fuck this" and decided not to give this issue a second thought. To stop letting men, insecure women, one dimensional hairstylists and experts tell us we aren't worthy if our hair isn't straightened or cascading down our back, because trust, most MEN won't kick a woman out of the sack bald, natural, or weaved!
While I didn't see this episode in question featured on Tyra Banks' talk show recently(thank goodness), I did find a clip and commetary regarding the themed What Is Good Hair? The woman who opined that her relaxed hair had a "white girl flow" was an ignoramus and I feel sorry of her ilk, because they're obviously grappling with coming to terms with loving and living for themselves and quite frankly, I don't want or desire to have a "white girl flow" thank you very much, and KUDOS to the loc'ed woman in pink! I also feel bad for and am amused by Black women who think wearing your hair loc'ed or natural doesn't translate to the corporate/working world successfully and that it's inappropriate. Many of the Black women I work with are loc'd and natural. Their hair is braided, puffed, worn in buns, and curly. The textures are different, the styles are well-maintained and we are glorious. My hair is hot. I take good care of it. It's clean, and I keep it neatly done in all its grand kinkiness. Natural hair is just as versatile as relaxed or weaved hair.

We need to figure out how to get over it and learn how to care for our natural hair (whether you choose to straigten it or not). At the end of the day, having "good hair" is the least of our worries as Black women. Please yourselves and stop trying to feed into the B.S. and flagrant smear campaign against us, telling us our beauty isn't universal, multi-faceted, and vast... straight and nappy. Give it up! Because if we don't start accepting who we are, the others are going to continue to dictate (successfully) how we should look, and they're going to continue to tack on prerequisites when describing Black beauty, telling you that you aren't bad looking for a "DARK girl" or "She's pretty for a BLACK girl"also, "I'd date a black woman if she looked like Halle, Alicia, or Beyonce" ... as well as my personal favorite (usually from my own),

"Your hair is so cute! Even though it's natural, it's not all nappy and matted. It looks soooo cute!"

and foolishness of the like. My older sister, who has a relaxer, has always kept her beautifully coiffed hair short. And it suits her wonderfully! I couldn't imagine it any other way. In the past, she has heard some backhanded comments from other Black women, who aren't confident enough to wear there hair short, so they made stupid remarks about sporting short or closely cropped hair. If you want to wear your hair a specific way, do it without apology or explanation because at the end of the day, when European and White-American women are bleaching the hell out of their hair, they aren't giving a DAMN What WE or their folks think, they're solely doing what pleases THEM and theirs. Just let it GO ladies!

*Smoking woman painting by Sandra Knuyt