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'Black is Beautiful'-So Act Like It!

It is not that people of color are defined as different from whites in the United States but that whites are viewed as superior and as the cultural standard against which all others are judged that transforms categories of race ‘differences’ into a system of racial ‘inequality’ (Ore, 2)

Reading this quote, I grew frustrated! To know and understand the people I know as my cultural sisters and brothers, as well as my self, as being people who make common practice of denouncing our African-American culture, to live up to-or so we have been mislead to think-the Caucasian-American culture. From the straightening of our natural nappy roots; to the “properness? within our voices; to the hatred towards one another, I have come to know the external aspect of my culture as being infested with conformity.

It’s a tough pill for me to swallow when I walk past a seemingly African-American person, and I receive a look of disdain. How could it be you feel I-your cultural brother-is not worthy of a courteous hello (etc), yet if a Caucasian person were to be me, you would hurriedly say hello?

I feel occurrences of the above happen, because African-Americans feel they have to let other African-Americans know whom is a more dominant person, via rejection. I believe the people of my culture strive for domination over one another, as a result of the hardships and domination bestowed upon us (African-American folk), from Caucasian America.

I once stayed in a very nice hotel with other people of the African Diaspora. We were there for a few days. Throughout our stay at the hotel, one of the women stressed how we should act a certain way, not talk too loud, etc because, “…the white people are here so act like y'all got some sense!? I disgustingly thought: “Y'all be good now, massa’ goin’ get us if we act a fool!? Why should I alter the way I truly am to adhere to the norms/values of those that oppress me, you, as well as others, as a result of their white privilege? Are you so envious of the “colorless? you will denounce who you truly are?

Why do we straighten our hair, yet exclaim ‘Black is beautiful’? How can you feel, “Black is beautiful,? when you have your “black? hair straightened-not in it’s natural state? I am curious to know if we straighten our hair, because our natural nappy hair is too painful to style, or because we are conforming to whom we see as majority?

I look at the beautiful Black women and men on our campus and ponder their reasons for straight hair. Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, Phyllis Wheatley didn’t have access/a need to/for a straightening comb, or a perm. I am guilty of straightening my hair, and ask myself: why do you feel straighter hair looks and/or feels better than your natural hair?

If we don’t start standing for one another, we are going to continue to FALL for anyone!

Comments

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Hello all,

Thank you all for commenting. For the record I am an African-American male.

Thanks,
Cortez.

It's interesting to hear the perspective of a African American woman dealing with racial issues; being a white woman, it's the only way for me to see the other side.

It might be good to know that white people like myself (and I feel I'm pretty average in this) don't feel superior to other races. In fact, we feel as though society casts an unfair label on us as racist oppressors who should feel shame for unnamed crimes that we unknowingly commit.

I'm just trying to get along in life, working beside people of all races. I certainly don't have the power or desire to oppress anyone...and yet, I feel as though I am deemed guilty for those crimes anyway.

Thank you for letting me give my perspective! :)

"How could it be you feel I-your cultural brother-is not worthy of a courteous hello (etc), yet if a Caucasian person were to be me, you would hurriedly say hello?"

I believe that some truth exists in the idea that when a person is approached by someone of the same race, it would seem commonplace to "greet" them with a courteous hello. At the same time, the juxtaposition of this notion to that of Hilary Clinton or Barack Obama, having individuals vote for them on the sole basis that she's a woman or that he's Black would seemingly be grounded in false premises. Instead, Obama suggests that one should understand his views before identifying with him because, not simply because you also happen to be Black. In regards to your "greeting", in an ideal society, we should hope that when meeting eyes with someone of the same race, they would greet you because you are a person, not because you feel it owed to you because you also share same ethnicity. Because, does this type of expectation not only serve to further subdivide us into our separate categories of difference?

"Have your “black? hair straightened-not in it’s natural state?"

I agree with your position on the physical characteristics defining who we are. I, too, have read Malcolm X's Autobiography, and also believed in many of his principles that he stood for. I think that Malcolm has always been put on the backburner when it comes to Civil Rights in the US. Other activists such as Dr. King have always had precedence over him and stand alone to represent that era. Only when Malcolm spoke of Black Violence or radial issues such as going back to Africa did the White press listen, but when he spoke of African-American pride or Black Nationalism did his voice go unheard. I believe that Michelle Obama is a prime example of this "whitening" effect as she, "conks" her hair as Malcolm would say. I believe she does this, because it’s what a First Lady is suppose to look like, in her mind at least. Conversely, I would say, why not let people do what they will with their own bodies. A White girl her perms her hair, physically changes her hair so it's curly for an extended period of time. Does this mean she is denying her heritage or her culture? Maybe people straighten/curl their hair simply because they like the way it looks.

I truely feel how you suffer when you hear the words from someone telling you to behave a certain way becuase there are a bunch white people around. It is a shameful thing to say. It is both hurtful to "whites" and to "blacks". The person saying that is putting down the black community and in turn telling the whites that they are automatically different from their black counterparts. Meanwhile beeing well mannered is not such a bad thing to be but if the person meant that all white people are well mannered and all blacks are loud and disrespectful, then anyone with a right mind would be offended.

As a liscensed hairstylist, I am FASCINATED by hair and ethnicity. I'm hoping to do my research paper on the topic of racial segregation in the hair industry. For my second blog post, I'll speak more of this, but in the meantime, hair texture is not limited to specific skin color. We find the tightest curls to the straightest strands on the palest white to the darkest black (without the aid of chemical procceses such as relaxers and perms).

Hey, good post. I think its hard to keep your own culture, yet be a part of another. I dont think being American means disgracing your heritage. You can be both. And for the hair straightning comment. Black is beautiful, no matter if its staright hair or nappy, fully black, or only mulatto. How a person does their hair should not matter if they really love who they are.

I enjoyed reading your post because you exposed everyday realities that many aren't willing to own up to. I also like the example you used about hair texture. I often get the comment that I "have good hair" due to the fact that my hair is curly and easily straightened. Although this is presented to me as a term of endearment, I find it offensive to African-American culture. It's sad that I receive such attention solely because my hair is closer to the Caucasian standard of beauty, which we hold so highly in America. I find this notion damaging to the Black individual internally and externally, and also damaging to the entire community. So when I receive the comment about my hair, I make sure to let them know there is no such thing as good hair because all hair is good hair.

I agree with your comment of how some Blacks try to rule over one another instead of uplifting one another. It seems to me that our community has forgotten about our struggle as a community and has fallen to "I'll get mine and leave you behind" way of thinking. As a result they look down on one another and value the white people they finally "caught up with". What does this say about our community? I cannot make an expert decision, but I know there is a such a thing called "divide and conquer" and we are doing it to ourselves more than ever.

I enjoyed your comments about hair straightening. It seems to be an insignificant choice about one's appearance, but it really has deeply ingrained messages about beauty, and trying to achieve the look of another. It also really reminded me of The Autobiography of Malcolm X (those who have not read it need to!) He brings up his hair many times throughout the book (not only because it was red and gave him his nickname), but is also signified much more. There was so much time, and pain put into looking like the white man, who still were not accepting.