Do White Folks Hate Black Folks’ Hair?
Feelings, crown, soul, and pride are all words synonymous with hair for black Folks. Many of Our emotions, experiences, and expressions are intertwined within the embodiment of our hair. This sentiment was eloquently sang by Solange in the song “Don’t Touch My Hair.”
India Arie boldly details in the song “I Am Not My Hair” that her hair is not totally indicative of who she is even though her hair is an intrinsic part of her and her being.
Does the way I wear my hair determine my integrity
I am expressing my creativity
I am not my hair
I am not my skin
I am not your expectations (No)
I am the soul that lives within
As black people, we know these songs and situations surrounding our hair all too well. The emotions that come with them, the feelings they evoke and experiences they bring in celebration of us, our hair and all of our uniqueness. Each of these Sisters tell a story about their hair in a contrasting but similar way. What is evident though is that black folk hair is a central part of their existence, especially our sisters. On the outside of that is the unwanted and unwarranted fanfare that our hair seems to garner from other races especially white folks.
Black folks hair has been the conversation of workplace professionalism and whether it’s appropriate. Many Black people have not received jobs, promotions or partnerships because their hair was deemed too ethnic. For years, the military had strict rules regarding appearance and some rules specifically targeted black women hairstyles and how they could wear their hair. However, recently we have seen these two branches come out to revise those rules and be more open to different styles.
In 2017, the U.S. Army changed its rules on grooming and appearance which opened the door for many black servicewomen to embrace their hair in its natural state and in July of this year the U.S. Navy went on Facebook Live to describe updates to its hair policy, a move that positively and significantly changed the lives and gave new freedom to black servicewomen.
So one would think that with major institutions changing long-standing policies on hair and appearance that would signify that we as a country have made leaps and bounds when it comes to acceptance of different cultures, their ways and their appearances but wait here comes a select group of white folks, Christians and private schools to put an end to open-minded thinking and acceptance across the board and doing it in an institution of education.
Though there are a multitude of incidents that involve students being oppressed because of their personal appearance and specifically hair, (too many to try to mention), in the past few weeks two incidents have taken center stage. In one incident a young named Clinton Stanley Jr. was told that he couldn’t start his first day of first grade at A Book’s Christian Academy because he had locs as his hairstyle. His father Clinton Stanley Sr. expressed his dissatisfaction about the incident on Facebook. Closer to my home in Terrytown, a subdivision of New Orleans a Catholic school Christ the King suspended a young girl named faith because she had extension in her hair. She had been attending the school for several years but over the summer they changed their policy on hair which banned any hair but natural hair. I truly wonder who that rule was intended for.
The capacity of these type of incidents on a yearly basis brings me to question actions and to start developing thoughts around the consistency. Are incidents like denying students an education because of their hair a way to oppress and suppress enrollment of a certain group or demographic in a school?
Can someone tell me what does a child’s hairstyle have to do with an education? Clinton, Faith and any other child’s hairstyles have no bearing on their ability to learn.
Are white folks afraid, confused and so intrigued by black folks’ hair that they see the need to ban it but want to touch it at the same time?
As a people who are diverse, multifaceted and amazing we understand white folks being enamored with our hair but when it comes to our hair we are simply asking for a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T and please Don’t Touch Our Hair!