She wants to lead the glamorous life!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Can You See Me?

Hello, I'm MJ.  I am a Black woman with naturally kinky-curly hair.  What that means for me is, I can do all kinds of badass things with my hair:  braid it (with or without extensions), straighten it (with or without chemicals), wear a weave (long or short), lock it, fro, twist or coil it out amongst other things.  What that means for you, and when I say 'you' I mean White people, is you get to not say a gotdamn thing about it.  The problem is, a great deal of you have somehow missed this memo and feel you must comment on EVERY fucking thing I do with MY hair.  If it was coming from a place of genuine respect and admiration, fine.  But if you're asking or commenting based on your own personal feelings or (lacking) knowledge of the curious nature of Black folk, I'm not with it.  Confused?  Let me help you out.

Example 1
Try saying:  Hey MJ, your hair looks nice.
Instead of:  OH MY GOD!  Look at your hair!!  You changed it.  Every day you change your hair.  I can't keep up.  Now what's this?  (coming close to inspect my hair) I like this.  The other way you wear it, is okay, but this, I like this.  You should keep it like this.  THIS is cute.
My mental commentary:  bitch I didn't ask you!

Example 2
Try saying:  Hey MJ, your hair looks nice.
Instead of:  You really wear that well.  See I can't do that with my hair.  You're lucky.  You have cool hair.  I just have this hair.
My mental commentary:  you're being patronizing.  Get out my face.

Example 3
Try saying:  Hey MJ, your hair looks nice.
Instead of:  Now, how did you do that?  Did you do it yourself, or did someone else do that for you? That's interesting.
My mental commentary:  No my hair is not "interesting", my hair is wonderful.

Example 4
Try saying:  Hey MJ, your hair looks nice.
Instead of:  Oh, you changed your hair.  Do you like it?
Instead of:  Now which hairstyle do you like the best?
My mental commentary:  bitch, yes I like my hair, that's why I'm wearing it this way!  I like ALL of my hairstyles, that's why I wear them!

Example 5
Try saying:  Hey MJ, your hair looks nice.
Instead of:  Is that all your hair?
My mental commentary:  that's rude as hell, and it's none of your damn business, you uncouth son of a bitch.  Furthermore, yes it is!  

These are real conversations, that tend to happen to me at work (a lot).  There are people who I can pass on the street or smile and wave to at the nearest Starbucks, who will look at me strange, divert their eyes without speaking and then ask me to do something in the office 15 minutes later.  I have worked with people who will pass my desk several times in a week, but see them outside the office and they look surprised when I tell them where I work.  "Oh, you're the one with the hair."  Yeah bitch, that's me.  Last night I went to a party and a girl who I was on a committee with for an entire year, re-introduced herself (as always) like she had never seen me before.  I chuckled and told her, "yes, I know, you have introduced yourself to me a THOUSAND times.  Every time I see you, you introduce yourself."  She awkwardly laughed it off and was like, "well I only came to like, four meetings."  I'm thinking, and I came to all but one, so again, we've met.  I sometimes get the, "I didn't recognize you, you changed your hair."  Yes, the hair may be different, but the face is still the same.  Are you just looking at me, instead of SEEING me?  Seeing the person I am.  As opposed to the caricature you have in your head.

It may sound like I'm overreaching, but the truth is, this is how racism and stereotypes are perpetuated.  The reason some cops are regularly harassing and KILLING young black men, is because they don't SEE these men.  They can't imagine they have mothers, or wives, family or friends.  They can't fathom they could be upstanding citizens or that someone would care about whether they live or died.  It's the reason people get upset to see brothas burn down a local drugstore, but don't understand that the anger resulted from the fact that a young man's spine was damn-near detached.  As a culture, you don't know anything about us.  Why are you so curious with Black hair?  You don't have any Black friends?  You have never been close enough to a Black woman to ask curious, yet thoughtful questions about the history of our styling and hair regimens?  If that's the case, it's fine, but don't embarrass me by shouting over the filing cabinet, a stupid question or comment.  Don't bring your friends over to comment on my hair, like I'm not standing/sitting right here.  I'm not a museum exhibit or a zoo animal.  Utilize Big Sister Google and investigate on your on time.

Scientists have traced the entire human race back to one Black woman in Africa.  We, Black people - Black women, have shared this planet with you all since the beginning of time.  Why are you still so intrigued by us?  My advice is to get off your high horse and stop looking and start seeing.  

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