Wednesday, August 1, 2012

To anyone who has ever criticized a Black woman for caring too much about her hair

Have you all gathered here? Do I have your attention? Okay, then let me direct it to the comments that I wish I couldn't believe that people are making about 16-year-old Olympics Gold Medal winner Gabby Douglas's hair. 

Actually, before I do that, let me reiterate: this little girl is sixteen. She's from Virginia Beach and left home at the age of 14 to live with a foster family in IOWA, of all places, so that she could train with top-tier gymnasts. She's one of the five gymnasts on the US Women's Gymnastics Team to just win a gold medal for our country. I have complete confidence that none of you will ever do anything this badass in your lives, so please, enlighten me, how you have the audacity to watch this little girl spin and fly through the air like it's easy and then criticize her HAIR?

People are talking about her "beady beads" (the tiny curls at the nape of her neck), about her "needing a perm," asking why her parents couldn't have gotten her micros or box braid extensions...

This little girl just represented our country in what I understand is, to most people in the world, this epic global battle and KILLED it. She is actually on top of the world. But none of that matters to people who not as an Olympian, not as a gymnast, not as a young woman, not even as a young Black woman, but as hair that must be representative of something (everything) else. The fact that she just landed perfectly from that routine (which could be replaced with any other accomplishment imaginable, let alone one that requires idk, intense physical activity) is irrelevant when weighed against a tiny curl being out of place.

This is what Black women are up against in daily existence. This is why relaxers as a multi-billion dollar Black female consumer market make sense. This is why going natural is a radical act of self-love and societal defiance. This is white patriarchal oppression to the highest--it has done its job so well that we've taken over the responsibility without even realizing it. 

Now, all you critics who are reading these, I would like you to join with me in a gesture of understanding what you have done wrong. Please raise your right hand so that it is about even with your ear. Repeat after me, "I, [name], am ridiculous for perpetuating the idea that Gabby Douglas is her hair and nothing more, and ridiculous further for projecting any sort of meaning onto her hair in the first place." Now, please move your hand rapidly to the left so that it may make stinging contact with your cheek. 


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