Black Women Politics
Black Women Politics – WASHINGTON, July 16, 2011— Earlier this month, a black woman complained that while traveling, she was pulled aside by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners so they could search her thick coifed hair.
“Laura Adiele accused TSA of racial profiling her when they pulled her aside & searched her hair. Photo: Associated Press”
She said she was racially profiled. TSA responded that it is their practice to search for anything that looks too poofy. In this case, in the past, TSA has faced criticism for searching a baby’s diaper and an elderly woman’s hair too.
It is not certain this was considered an incident exclusive and limited to black hair. Beyond this case, black hair is considered very political for African American women. Including other persons of color with kinky or tight coiled hair in America. For decades, there has been pressure on them to chemically straighten their hair. Or use hot heat implements to do so in order to conform to societal and workplace preference. To achieve silkier straight hair, different than their natural hair texture.
Historically, many Blacks themselves have looked down on some of the natural hairstyles worn by those among them with kinkier hair including locks, (once called dreadlocks), braids, twists, and afros. Women and men wearing their hair in those styles were considered brave or pegged as nonconformist, Afrocentric or anti-Establishment. Much of the stigma on hair was negative.
Comedian Chris Rock explored the topic in his 2009 major motion picture “Good Hair.
“Which showcased the extreme lengths black women would go to get hair deemed more preferable. Some in the movie spent upward to $1,000 to put weaves in their hair to achieve that preferred look. Rock also highlighted all the toxic chemicals that some black women put in the hair of their daughters as young as 3 years old. Some women have said they have done so because care for natural hair is more challenging and it takes more time to keep it looking unkempt and maintained.
Indeed, parents with children with kinky textured and tight coiled hair. Including parents of biracial children. Fathers raising girls who do not have the benefit of living with a mother due to death, separation or divorce. Also, white adoptive parents to children with ethnic hair often do struggle with styling their kids’ hair.
As a mom to a daughter with that textured hair, I too have struggled with styling her hair and keeping it looking neat all day.
I’ve tried to mix my own products made of homemade natural ingredients, have purchased an array of expensive products, sought out the advice of stylist friends, done extensive online research, taken her to have it professionally braided and struggled through doing it myself.
Fortunately for me, despite the challenges of black women politics.
My husband and I have made the extra effort to avoid using any negative language when talking about her hair. We also go out of our way to celebrate it and all the different types of hair of all people.
We did not want to repeat the errors of some parents in the past who have said things like. “Your nappy hair is so hard to comb” or “I can’t wait to relax your hard hair”. Because we wanted her to have a healthy and wholesome appreciation for what God gave her. For sure, we never use the term “good hair”. When referencing hair texture that is different than hers so she doesn’t get the impression that her hair is “bad”.
In fact, after each wash. I stand her in the mirror, towel drying her hair and tell her how I love her hair and how beautiful it is. She smiles and agrees. It took me several decades to get to the point of loving my own hair. Also, I did not want my daughter to have to go through the same self-hate I have had for my hair in the past.
Black women politics – All of that positive reinforcement has worked.
When she was only 2 years old. The first time she saw me unloosen my braids and comb it out in an afro. She told me, “Mommy, I love your hair!” Similarly, more recently at 3 ½ years old. While sitting on the couch with her dad watching the NBC show ‘The Voice”. She saw for the first time in her life, the bold bodacious and very bald Frenchie hit the stage to sing. She squealed with delight, “Daddy, she is beauuuutiful!”
It put a smile on my husband’s face to know her daughter appreciated the beauty in all forms. Even if that form not necessarily celebrated in our American media and culture. The challenge with us will be fighting messages she will get from her friends growing up. The media and others who will certainly poison this healthy and wholesome outlook she has now at her very young age.
Indeed, it is a struggle for parents of little girls to get them to love the hair on their heads and care for it.
Sharon Abney, owner and proprietor of Twist N Turn Natural Hair Care in Silver Spring, Maryland said. “Parents can start by not associating pain with the hair care process. Also, be careful when combing and styling their children’s hair to not put undue pressure on it.” She added that children emulate their parents. “When they hear and see what their parents do, they learn whether to love or hate their hair.”