Respect My Fro, Thank You
I was having a conversation with my #BloggerBestie Annie (from The Fashion Sauce) about what I have been through being black in America. She is always so taken back about the things I say. Mostly because she has never had to endure them. For example, having to deal with people a certain way because of the color of my skin, and handling racism in different forms throughout my life. I have been told, "you are the prettiest black person I have ever met" knowing that the people who were saying that intended for it to be a compliment.
But are black people supposed to be ugly?
My whole academic life was spent with me being the minority so I got a lot of questions naturally, along the way. Never did I feel that there were negative feelings about me behind it, but I can attest to being uncomfortable at times. The fact that it was normalized to keep my hair "straight" and "kept" for professionalism gave me the idea that my natural hair in public was not OK. Realizing this fact today with everything that is going on in our country surrounding race, I am a bit upset. Mostly because I had an experience at work not too long ago that reflected this very same theme.
As you know I had braids for the duration of the summer as a protective style. Recently I had my braids taken out and changed back to my natural hair. Typically I get it done (Press and Curl) so that my hair is straight and fine with some curls for volume. But mostly to look "professional" and as close to my natural hairstyle as possible. However this particular day I was scheduled to work and had not yet scheduled my appointment to straighten my hair. I came into work having done a wash and go leaving my hair slicked back into a ponytail with a puff extending from the back. I was quite proud of myself, seeing as I know very little about doing my natural hair. I was impressed that I got it all back and felt confident. That is until I walked into work and was told that my hairstyle was "unacceptable".
So, imagine going into your place of work with a new hairstyle and someone telling you that it was unacceptable. You would be upset simply because it is your natural hair correct? That is what you were born with, no? This happened recently. All I could do in response was stand there and wait for my boss to explain himself. He simply looked up at my puff, chuckled, and told me to "fix it" for my coming shifts.
Immediately I got uncomfortable. Not because of the chuckle or even the way he said what he did. It was what he said, and the vibe I got from him throughout the entire transaction. Why was this OK? And why was he comfortable with what he had just said?
I thought of what was going on around the world with other black people having to do with their hair. There have been a few stories about kids not being able to wear their hair a certain way at school. Most recently there was a story that emerged from South Africa. It was a video of police threatening to arrest STUDENTS for protesting their school because of their hair policy. They claimed it was racist.
they were told their hair was "Exotic" & that their Afros NEEDED to be "tamed".
Mind you this is an all girls school in South Africa.
I am simply asking thatif it is OK for certain people to go to school or work with natural hair, why would it not be OK for others? If rocking your natural hair is what you want to do, why would it be looked at as anything other than a persons free expression?
Why are my curls "unacceptable"?
Xo The Beautiful Bostonian