Just. Stop. with the Natural Hair Insults
A recent tweet by a self-proclaimed "progressive "man – who says he is running for Mayor of San Francisco - on Twitter – unhappy with the appointment of Zerlina Maxwell to a new senior position, made his unhappiness known by tweeting an insult about her natural hair, which he called "ridiculous" and "comical."
Let me say off the bat, that although this man is white and his comment stupid and juvenile, he is not a racist person. He made this ignorant comment not from a place of hatred of Black people, but from a place of ignorance.
He's typical of mainstream society – not used to seeing Black women with unapologetically natural afro, kinky, big hair in prominent places of power and influence. And having to defer to them in those positions of power and influence outside celebrity, entertainment and sports. Also note: this is not an excuse, just an observance. The mere fact that this man made this comment during a time when natural hair is being legislated in his home state says a lot to me about his circle of influence and ability to expand beyond his familiar, but I digress.
Of course our Natural Hair Revolution soldiers made him instantly aware of his misstep with a quickness reserved for Black women on fire, and he was schooled on several fronts about the perceived racism in his tweet.
So, he issued an apology – of sorts – saying he was sorry to Ms. Maxwell and to anyone he offended by his comment. But then… instead of using this experience as a teaching moment and seeking to understand WHY the outpouring of outrage over his tweet, instead of asking to better understand why he got dragged by an army of Black women, he got defensive and launched into a twitter tirade about ill treatment of Bernie Sanders.
Wait, what? Yeah, well….
After singling this unfortunate man out, I can tell you that this type of thing happens every single day, all over the world, regarding our natural hair. I do believe that ignorance like this is not malicious, it's just an ignorance of history and some prefer to remain there.
Looking at this issue broader, as Black woman with natural hair, historically we have been singled out, insulted, told to "fix it", told we must be lesbians, lazy, can't get a man, can't get a job etc, etc. We are un-groomed, unprofessional, immature. Our natural, afro hair has literally been discriminated against and in some US states, Black women were forbidden to wear our natural hair uncovered in public. We have fought for years, for respect and acceptance of our natural hair, our dark skin and our bodies in our own communities, let alone in broader society.
So yes, when a woman with natural hair is insulted like this, by someone who is not a right-wing nut job, or a racist, or someone deliberately using race or ethnicity to insult someone, it strikes a nasty chord. Where natural hair is concerned, insult one of us, insult all of us.
I was pleased to see most sisters (mostly) trying to educate this man civilly. But when someone refuses to learn about why the reaction is so swift, and so tight, so quickly – there is nothing much else we can do but keep on being who we are and calling out people for their ignorance whenever we see it.
Advice for non-natural, non-people-of-color and/or men of any persuasion about to comment.
If you are using someone's natural hair as an example of why you don't like something, JUST STOP.
If you are about to single out a woman you disagree with and mention her natural hair too, JUST STOP.
If you are about to make a comment about someone's natural hair being a political statement, JUST STOP.
If you are about to say that natural hair has something to do with a woman's sexual preference, JUST STOP.
And anything else you are thinking of saying, JUST STOP.
Because all roads lead to a smack-down.