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Sometimes, I hate being black.

Over at that island where they have queens and princes, a large clocks, and guards who stand absolutely still, this girl pictured was kicked out of school for having her hair done in this frightening weird style called cornrows. Actually, it was the combination offense of being white and having cornrows that scared the administration, and landed the girl into hot water. Presumably it's safe to attend school while having cornrows or being white, as other students managed to attend school without incident while afflicted with either malady. Only the combination of the two threatened to shatter the precarious balance of safety and conformity that the school strives to maintain.

Quite rightly, this school is getting a flogging in the media for this asinine policy. However, the discussion is revealing how depressingly little knowledge people have about African hair. Here's looking at the discussion over at Fark. There's row after row after row of comments stating how no one should wear cornrows or dreadlocks. That they look ugly, stupid, etc. etc. etc. It's not being limited to saying the hairstyle on white people looks terrible(though I will disagree — The girl looks rather cute with her hair done like that), but no one should do their hair like that, not even blacks. Frankly, I'm sure many blacks would love to oblige that request, and many do spend hours each week trying to tame our hair with various stinging concoctions and scary Star Trek type equipment, but our hair doesn't wish to cooperate. Our hair is different.

Frankly, I wish my hair was nice and straight. It would spare me a hour of frustration each day. I'd never, ever have to deal with Ultra Sheen, or other greasy and nasty smelling products like it. I would love to get away with going to bed without having to wear a cap or stocking. Dealing with dandruff would be easier, as the hair wouldn't knot around each flake. And I'd gladly accept the day where I'm guaranteed that a comb would not painfully yank out tufts of hair that had decided without my consent to exchange vows and tie the knot -- with the dandruff being the wedding ring of sorts. There would be much rejoicing in my house if my hair was like everyone else's.

But no, it's not. Most of us blacks don't have hair that is straight, or even curls gracefully. Our hair winds itself up tighter than Woody Allen after a cup of coffee. As it grows, it does not out finely like strands of silk down to our shoulders. It puffs up like cotton (I use that description when I'm charitable), or knots up like a tumbleweed (when charity is gone). The Afropuff is our hair's natural state.

Thus, the market for hair care chemicals with toxicity that is best compared to that of New Jersey's waterways continues. Women get to pay to either have such sludge used to perm their hair, or to have fake straight hair sewn into their real hair. Men get to buy various oils of varying viscosities to try to achieve various levels of manageable hair, as long as they promise to not swim off of the coast of Alaska. And our hair will fight us each and every step of the way.

If you understand all of the pain straightening our hair causes us, you can understand the attractiveness of hairstyles like afros, dreadlocks and cornrows. Such styles are generally less maintenance than trying to force our hair to behave in ways it does not wish to. (Though dreads take a lot of work to start.) This is not an attempt by us to look foolish or to confuse and scare the white population. We just want to have a hairstyle that doesn't take a degree in cosmetology to maintain.

Look at it this way: We don't ask all of you to make your hair look like this.

I've yet to find any information as to whether or not she is back at school, and if she is allowed with the cornrows.



( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Apr. 18th, 2005 02:26 pm (UTC)
The things people get riled up over (god, I need help with my prepositions) become more and more asinine every second I breathe God's air. Common sense is a rare commodity these days.


As to your comments on black hair, I love my natural hair and not having to spend close to $100 a month getting perms that last for only 2 weeks. Black hair is much more versatile than people will care to admit. Give me some conrows or microbraids anyday over a weave.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )