All Articles Tagged "black hair"
It seems that famed South African trumpeter, composer, and Pan-Africanist Hugh Masekela, best known for “Grazing in the Grass” and organizing the Zaire 74 festival to promote Muhammad Ali and George Foreman’s Rumble in the Jungle, is not too keen on Black women wearing the wet and wavy.
According to the South Africa City Press, Masekela caused quite a bit of a stir recently while receiving an honorary doctorate from Rhodes University. He refused to take pictures with any Black women wearing hair extensions. As reported by the paper, the trumpeter told a student who just had taken a picture with him,”You’re lucky that you were sneaky enough to have him take a picture of you next to me, otherwise I would have refused. I don’t take pictures with girls who have your kind of hair.”
Masekela continued his rant against the “sneaky” student and other wig and weave wearers during a follow-up press conference at the University in which he added, “We spend about a billion rand on other people’s hair each year. I don’t even know where to begin on this issue.”
As the paper reports, he also had words for the youth of South Africa, in general, who he accused of turning their backs on their culture, including their native tongues, storytelling, and even music.
And here we go again…
We get it: Some of you don’t personally like weaves. However, the obsession that some of our people have with Black women and hair extensions, including making false analogies about self-love and weave-wearers’ alleged commitment to their culture and people, is way past the point of healthy. And sanity for that matter. Every Black woman with a blonde lace-front isn’t trying to be a white woman. Sometimes she’s just a woman with a preference for a certain tacky hair color and style. And we talk so much about the billions Black women are supposedly giving away to the Asians based upon our hairstyle choices like Black men aren’t out here giving away “our” money to Nike, Konig (who makes rims) and every Arab in cheap gold shops.
Never mind how we continue to be abused, underpaid, assaulted and sometimes killed for just being Black women in various parts of this world. According to some of these so-called Pan-Africanists, the worst thing that white supremacy has ever done to Black women is brainwash us into rocking the 100-percent Brazilian. And this is why I have a hard time taking folks seriously.
However, what makes Masekela’s sentiments even more peculiar as he received his honorary degree at Rhodes University is that earlier in the month, students, including some who wear weaves, were engaged in massive protest to demand that the school remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes from the campus. For those who are unaware, Rhodes was not only the founder of the college, but also a British imperialist who is responsible for colonizing Rhodesia, which today is known as Zimbabwe.
As reported by The Daily Vox, The “Rhodes Must Fall Movement,” as the students call themselves, was formed over a month ago and seeks to “decolonize higher education.” And not just at Rhodes University, but on other college campuses throughout South Africa. Outside of the removal of the statue, students want the university to hire more Black academics and offer more Afrocentric curriculum options.
And as The Daily Vox notes:
This means creating a campus environment that is welcoming to black students. The response from some UCT students to the Rhodes Must Fall movement has revealed the day-to-day racism that slips under the campus radar – white students calling black students in the movement “monkeys” and “k****rs” or “savages” who “destroy everything they touch” on social media; black staff and students frequently reduced to tears by the racism they encounter from their peers.
“When we say ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ we mean that patriarchy must fall, that white supremacy must fall, that all systematic oppression based on any power relations of difference must be destroyed at all costs,” Kealeboga Ramaru, a student in the movement, said just before the statue fell.
Thus far, the students have been successful in their aim to get the university’s administration to remove the statue, which was taken down and housed in a secret location earlier this month. Kudos to them. There should have been some acknowledgment of the brave efforts of these students to decolonize their campuses. Yet, when asked his thoughts on the student-led activism, the City Press reports that Masekela was “dismissive” saying that the youth should focus on “bigger problems,” like poverty, inequality and crime. And then he went in on Black women and hair weaves…
Funny how a Pan-Africanist can have so much to say about Black women and their hairstyle choices — in the name of protecting the heritage and the collective wealth of African people — yet be so dismissive when it comes to actual efforts to decolonize. Even funnier is that this ardent protector of African aesthetics and values would even bother showing up to accept an honorary degree from an institution not only founded on the principals of erasing the local culture, but a university that continues to deny his people a place on its campus.
He should have been standing on the front lines and taking pictures with all of the students, including the ones with weaves. Instead, he chose to use Black women as a wedge and engage in the same sort of policing that has held our people back globally. That’s why it is hard to take some Pan-Africanists seriously when they act no different than the oppressors.
We all have our preferences; but if you’re not careful, the way you word them and share them with the public could rub a lot of people the wrong way. And though he meant every word he said, that is exactly what happened to famed, South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela.
The 76-year-old musician recently performed at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa. After his set, two students, asked to take a picture with him.
According to the City Press, with information from student journalist Sanele Ntshingana, he told two weaved young ladies:
“You’re lucky that you were sneaky enough to have him take a picture of you next to me, otherwise I would have refused. I don’t take pictures with girls who have your kind of hair.”
This is not the first time Masekela has been outspoken about this distaste for weaves. During a press conference, as he was receiving an honorary doctorate from the university, he was quoted as saying,
“We spend about a billion rand (South Africa) on other people’s hair each year. I don’t even know where to begin with this issues.”
I can understand Masekela’s feelings. Everything ain’t for everybody. Still, not wanting to associate, with someone based on the way they wear their hair is quite extreme. I could understand his comments a bit better if he said he won’t date or marry someone with the look…not that he’s doing that at 76. That’s preference. But not wanting to take a picture with a person who wears weave, particularly after they’ve supported your career, is quite rude.
There are other ways to express a philosophy, without completely alienating people who just don’t happen to agree. Instead, this shame tactic he’s employing seems to be a far bigger issue than what women chose to put on their heads.
Trichologist Dr. Kari Williams Speaks On Preserving Your New Color And Restoring Damaged Hair For Spring
Last week we introduced you to Dr. Kari Williams, a very talented and intelligent board certified trichologist and stylist to the stars. As she prepares to share her knowledge with hundreds of thousands of women at the Kinky Hair Unlocked hair expo in Atlanta on April 24, Dr. Williams divulged some of the hair dos and don’ts for us that she will share with followers, fans, and naturalistas next week.
She previously shared her advice on the right way to wear braids without losing your edges, and why she doesn’t think women should run for their lives when they find silicones and sulfates in their hair products. This time around, she’s speaking to us about preserving our bright and bold hair colors for spring, and what we should do to strengthen and restore hair damaged during winter. Let’s get to it.
Tips To Maintaining A New Color And The Right Products To Use
When you get a color that’s completely different from your natural color, you want to find products that are formulated for color-treated hair. Color is a chemical. The way that it stains and penetrates the hair shaft, you want to make sure that not only are you keeping the hair well-conditioned, but that you’re keeping the color vibrant. There are certain ingredients in chemicals that help maintain that vibrancy.
Look for products only for color-treated hair. There are serums you can put on the hair that maintain shine for color-treated hair because there are some color products that will cause the hair to become very coarse and dry. That always leads to breakage. So I always tell my clients, when you’re natural, you have to give your hair as much attention, care, and conditioning as if you were to use any other chemical on your hair. At the end of the day, the results won’t be the same if it’s not maintained.
Why Naturalistas Shouldn’t Scoff At Color-Treated Hair Products That Aren’t Specifically Made For Black Hair
People think, “Well, I’m natural, so that’s not going to work for my hair type.” I think that’s another misconception within the natural hair care industry. Because of the popularity of the hair typing system, we don’t have the knowledge of products that are actually going to benefit our hair. And when it comes to color-treated hair, it doesn’t matter if it’s curly or straight–it’s now color treated. Now it’s the color-treated type. You want to invest in shampoos and conditioners that are going to treat your hair now that is colored. It doesn’t mean that you can’t still use your other styling products to help enhance the curl and set your hair, but you want to switch your shampoo and conditioner.
Ultimately, if you’re not retouching the color, the color will naturally fade. The ends of your hair are the oldest and they’ll become more weathered, so the color will fade naturally.
I’ve been pulling out my hair for so long, I can’t even remember when my trich began. I’m not talking about doing away with some pesky gray strand, or taming a whisker-like stray hair begging for attention. I’m talking about pulling out strand after strand after strand.
Trich is short for trichotillomania, a compulsive disorder characterized by the need to obsessively pull out hair — any hair — on one’s body. For me, it’s the hair on my head. It’s a dilemma made even more complicated by the fact that I’m a Black woman. I needn’t tell you the amount of importance, work, value and money we place on getting our precious hair done and keeping it intact.
Much like any other bad habit that’s hard to break, I’ve found an oddly soothing comfort in plucking strands. It’s not at all painful and I’ve done it whether my hair has been permed, texturized or in its natural state. I do all this in the comfort of my own home, mind you (I ain’t that crazy to do it everywhere), and only when I’m bored or stressed, particularly the latter. The problem is, it doesn’t take much for me to feel stressed. Just about anything can trigger a full-on pulling session if I’m not careful.
I’ll stop after the next one, I often tell myself. No, wait…now. But true to its obsessive nature, the pulling continues whether I want it to or not. Before long, my couch and floor are covered in hair. It’s not exactly calming then, looking down at a sea of kinky strands that moments ago were in their rightful place. When I can look in the mirror and see noticeable bare spots or, worse yet, bald patches smack dab in the middle of my head, that’s when feelings of shame and embarrassment come flooding in. Not to mention, a plain old disgust and ridiculous fear of being seen as less beautiful and less of a woman.
As a result of all this pulling, my hair hasn’t been an even length in years. I rock wigs, hats, and scarves: 1) because they’re cool, and 2) to cover up any damage so I can avoid having uncomfortable conversations. After all the stress I’ve put on my hair and scalp, I fear some of my hair may never grow back. I often worry that I’ll have trich for the rest of my life.
When I finally became aware that this thing I do is an actual disorder with a name that’s hard to pronounce, I sought professional help. On separate occasions, I saw two doctors who recommended that I keep a journal noting the time of day I pulled, the length of time I did it, and how I felt before and after pulling (relieved, bored, anxious, etc.). One doctor suggested that I wear gloves when I felt the urge to pull, or if I was in the middle of pulling and needed to stop. Not too helpful, that one. You kind of need your hands to do everything.
In denial and perhaps not willing to put in the necessary work to seek and make a change, I quickly lost interest in the process. You know how it is when you start something new and want to see results, like, yesterday? Patience didn’t factor into the equation. Instead, I threatened to go completely bald (though I’ve never had the courage to rock that look) and suffered the wrath of well-meaning family members and friends who’d tell me to stop when they caught me in the act. For the record, if being told to “stop” were all it took, none of us would have any problems and we’d all be sh*tting rainbows. But I digress.
I divulge all of this because I know I am not alone. There are other women out there struggling with this very issue, which seems to affect women more than men. I suspect these women are afraid, embarrassed and tired of succumbing to this baffling disorder. Talking about it is the first step to erasing the shame. Recognize that you’re not any less beautiful or any less of a woman because you have trich. Organizations like the Trichotillomania Learning Center are at your disposal, and help is available if you’re willing to seek it and are ready to do the necessary work. While I’m not completely healed, I do my best to be mindful and to keep my triggers in check. Though I’ve worried +that this may be a lifelong struggle, I know that in time, I will overcome trich.
Getting through airport security for my 22 hour flight to Johannesburg, South Africa was supposed to go off without a hitch.
Having flown internationally a few times before, I was prepared for the standard search. As advised by the airline, I arrived early at John F. Kennedy International Airport in NYC to give myself the necessary time to get through screening. I wore shoes that I could easily slip on an off. I had my laptop and other electronics already out and ready for separate inspection. All my toiletries, including soap and lotion, were in containers that were the size approved by the TSA. I didn’t wear heavy metal jewelry, belts, or anything that might set off the detector. I thought I had prepared for everything.
However, after I walked through the full body scanner, the nice young TSA worker asked me to step aside for an additional search. Strange, I thought. I had nothing in my pockets and the scanner did not beep. The only other time this had ever happened was on my return flight from Ghana. That time, I was pulled out of line on three separate occasions for three additional searches; one of which involved a very stern-faced woman feeling under and around my breasts and in between my legs. They found nothing then, and I was sure they weren’t going to find anything on this day.
I waited a few moments until an older Black lady with sky blue latex gloves walked over to me. On instinct, I raised my arms. However, she smiled and said, “You can put your arms down. I just need to check your hair real quick.”
“Huh? What the hell for?” is what I thought. But before I could verbally articulate that sentiment – or even protest – she had already reached into my dreadlocks and started feeling around my scalp. I instantly cringed. The second most irritating thing in the world to me is when people touch my hair. The most irritating thing is when people touch my hair without permission.
It’s an irritation instilled in me by my mother. She warned me early on in life that people would be infatuated by my thick mane and that this infatuation would inspire some to actually reach out and grab a handful of it, even without my permission. It had been happening to her all of her life, and not just at the hands of overly affectionate grown men and curious classmates, but entitled white people too. She told me to not let them violate my personal space, because in spite of what others may try to tell me, my hair is just as much a part of my body as my fingers and toes. In the same way I wouldn’t let a soul just reach out and grab my behind or my tits, I should use the same discretion with my hair. Plus, as she told me, it’s just flat-out nasty since “you don’t know where people’s hands have been.”
For most of my life, I managed to guard my hair and my body with little to no issue (with the exception of my trip to Ghana, a couple of run-ins with police, and a curious and handsy white girl who caught me off guard). Yet as I stood in the airport in my socks, I felt myself at the mercy of people wearing bright blue latex gloves.
The TSA agent smiled pleasantly and said, “Okay you’re good. Your dreadlocks are really nice by the way.” I returned a halfhearted “thanks.” I did not feel complimented, but rather, embarrassed: first, by all the people who watched in curiosity at this lady running her hands through my dreads, which were laying flat down my back (another precaution I took to get through airport security fast); secondly, by the fact that also going through the scanner that day were a number of white and non-white women, who for some reason, were spared such humiliation.
Ironically, this incident happened just a day before the TSA announced that it would stop the invasive practice for good – or at least use more common sense. According to Reuters, the decision came after complaints were filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of two Black women who had to endure the demeaning practice. As Reuters is reporting:
Novella Coleman, the ACLU attorney, had already filed a complaint about the practice in 2012, to no avail, Coleman said on Thursday. She filed another complaint based on Singleton’s experience, and on Thursday the two women said that the agency had agreed to conduct anti-discrimination training sessions with its officers to avoid what they called racial profiling of hair…Asked the reason for the search, Coleman said she was given a variety of explanations. One officer said all passengers with hair extensions were searched, but Coleman wasn’t wearing extensions. Another said people are searched if they have “abnormalities” in their hair, she said.
Other black women have had similar experiences, she said.
David A. Castelveter, a spokesman for the TSA, said the agency had no immediate comment on Thursday night. Coleman said it was not immediately clear what kind of training the TSA planned for its staff.
I’m curious about what kind of training he has in mind as well, other than instructing TSA workers to just not do it…
The day after my arrival in Johannesburg, I decided to take in a little culture and history at the Museum Africa, which was having a photo exhibition on apartheid. The images were equally beautifully and haunting for obvious reasons. However, there was one picture I connected with the most. It was taken by South Africa’s first Black freelance photographer, Ernest Cole, and was also republished to print for the essay, “My Country, My Hell,” in the February 1968 issue of EBONY magazine.
The essay was about Cole’s new (at the time) photo book called House of Bondage, which documented through images what it was like for the millions of Blacks who suffered and slaved under apartheid. The particular photo that stood out to me at the museum was of a dozen or so Black men standing naked in a line with their arms raised and faces towards a wall. According to Cole, the men were not prisoners, but rather, rural workers awaiting medical examination so that they could begin work in the gold mines for 46 cents a day. The photo, while visually stunning, was also very disturbing.
It reminded me of three things: first, our two countries (South Africa and the United States) share some very uncomfortable racial history; secondly, white supremacy is extremely invasive; and finally, even as we have made strides in race relations, we Black people are still treated in the most cagey and demeaning ways.
If you’re a Black woman with naturally textured Black hair whose flown somewhere in the past five years, there’s a good chance that your hair has been patted, squished or searched by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA).
But after two Black women (with a little power and clout behind their names) complained to TSA, this practice (is informally) on its way out.
According to Business Insider, Malaika Singleton, a neuroscientist based in Sacramento, California, wore her hair in sisterlocks as she was traveling to a conference on dementia in London. And like so many of us, Singleton’s hair was pulled and squeezed.
“I was going through the screening procedures like we all do, and after I stepped out of the full body scanner, the agent said, ‘OK, now I’m going to check your hair.'”
The same thing happened to Singleton in Minneapolis on her way back from the conference.
Unhappy with the treatment she’d received in both airports, Singleton contacted the American Civil Liberties Union. Coincidentally– or perhaps not since it happens so often–one of the lawyers there, a Black woman, who also wears her hair in sisterlocks, Novella Coleman, had experienced the same thing– twice.
She too was traveling for work. Coleman just so happened to be joined by White and Latina colleagues who didn’t endure that type of search.
When Coleman asked the officer, why her hair was being searched, she was told passengers wearing hair extensions were searched. But Coleman’s sisterlocks were her own. Another officer said that people with “abnormalities” with their hair were searched.
Quite ignorant and discriminatory, indeed.
She too had filed a complaint about the practice back in 2012.
But it never went anywhere.
Coleman, the ACLU attorney, filed another complaint based on Singleton’s experience and on Thursday, the TSA responded, agreeing to conduct anti-discrimination training sessions with its officers when it comes to screening African American, female hair.
In an e-mail from the office of Civil Rights and Liberties, Ombudsman and Traveler Engagement, Bryan W. Hudson, wrote:
The Federal Security Director for MSP (Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport) and the Federal Security Director for LAX (Los Angeles International Airport), through his Field Counsel, also agreed to participate in the informal resolution process. MSP and LAX will both provide retraining to their respective TSA workforce to stress TSA’s commitment to race neutrality in its security screening activities with special emphasis on hair patdowns of African-American female travelers. MB (The Multicultural Branch of TSA) will also commit to conducting an onsite training at LAX, subject to coordination with TSA LAX leadership, during the 2015 calendar year. In addition, even though TSA does incorporate nondiscrimination principles into its regular training, MB will work with the TSA’s Office of Training and Workforce Engagement to make certain that current training related to nondiscrimination is clear and consistent for TSA’s workforce. Furthermore, in light of recent concerns, MB will diligently work with TSA secured airports and monitor them for consistent implementation of DHS and TSA policies. MB will specifically track hair pat-down complaints filed with MB from African-American females throughout the country to assess whether a discriminatory impact may be occurring at a specific TSA secured location.
You’ll notice the resolution is informal and no formal decision has been made. But still, it’s a step in the right direction. And since this story is being reported across several media platforms through the country, I’d hope, internally, TSA is sending additional communication and hosting more training sessions to make sure this stops happening in L.A., Minneapolis as well as all the airports throughout the country.
When was the last time your hair was searched at the airport? Are you optimistic about this reform or does it feel like hot air to you?
This story is ancient in pop culture news terms. But it’s new to me and just too adorable not to share. So here I am bringing it to you, on the off chance that it might have slipped under the radar for you too.
Remember back in 2012, when President Obama was running for re-election he and First Lady Michelle Obama were having dinner with voters? Well, President Obama being the charismatic dude that he is, he shared a very charming story about the time he had to style his eldest daughter’s hair.
My favorite story out of this is Malia, when she was 4, she had a little dance thing. Well, Michelle was gone that weekend so I’m taking her to ballet. And I get her in her little leotard and her little stuff. I did her hair, put it in a little bun.
We get to the dance studio and one of the mothers there right away comes up to Malia – she thinks she’s out of earshot of me and she says, ‘Sweetie, do you want me to redo your hair?’ And Malia who she’s 4 says, ‘Yes please, this is a disaster’ you know, she didn’t want to hurt daddy’s feelings.
I love this story because I’ll forget the week my mother was out of town visiting her brother, my uncle, in California. I remember it for basically one reason and one reason only. It was the first and last time my dad was left to style me and my sister’s hair for school that week.
The first day I naively thought that since my dad was go great at everything else he did with us, doing our hair would be the same. I was sadly mistaken. Not only does my father have large and heavy hands, he had absolutely no idea how to style our hair like our mother did.
But that didn’t stop him from putting up a good front. That morning before school he asked us what we wanted. I was about 8 and by this time I’d had a relaxer for a few years. And since it had been a while since I’d been to the shop, my hair was too old to be worn down. So I told him I wanted a ponytail.
My father’s hands trying to scoop up the strands of my hair felt like mallets clunking against my scalp. It was anything but pleasant. And on Tuesday, I told him I’d do my own hair. My sister, who is just under two years younger than me, whose hair wasn’t relaxed, just had to suffer until my mom came back home.
Needless to say, after a week of me attempting to protect my scalp and my father struggling with my sister’s three staple braids, we were looking rough…real rough when we picked my mom up from the airport.
We all look back on that week and laugh. Those are some pretty fond memories, even if it was less than amusing when I was going to school looking crazy.
Did your father ever have to do your hair for some reason? How did he do?
Ever wonder just how far your money can really go when you’re shopping for hair care products? Well, here’s a guide that shows what you can get for your money at the drugstore, the beauty supply store and at a high-end beauty shop. See what hair care products you can get for $25, $50 and $100 during your shopping trips. Each price point builds on the previous one. Good luck getting more bang for your buck!
By now, surely you’ve noticed that Willow is not your average 14-year-old. And while most were walking around with words plastered across our booty at that age, Willow Smith is slaying a full fashion spread in CR Fashion Book.
And while Willow gets to wear designer duds by Emilio Pucci, like us, she still has yet to determine a signature style…if she will ever settle on just one.
For now: “I think my look changes all of the time. And right now, it’s a bit more messy, kind of grungy.”
More than style though, Willow is working on herself. She told the publication: “I just want to have dreads. I want to embrace my full self, as natural as I can be.”
The issue featuring the youngest Smith child will hit newsstands tomorrow. But in the meantime, check out the stunning images from the shoot.
New hair care brands are giving our old cabinet standbys a run for their money. Literally. The popularity of small, kitchen-made products and boutique brands has forced the masterminds behind big hair care brands to rethink their plan for creating and promoting new products. But do newer brands really have the power to choke-out large, well-known brands with a legacy? I don’t think so, but I do think healthy competition is a good thing in the hair care market.
Traditional brands realize they’re losing a part of their market share to new brands available on the Internet and in department stores. These new brands appeal to a buyer with better discernment who realizes she has more options. There are many products to choose from now, and you can look at the sprawling ethnic and curly hair care aisles in Target for proof of that. The best part of this change is that Black women now realize that we’re running the hair care market. We determine what products are successful. We are running it. We don’t have to buy petroleum-based products if we don’t want to buy them. And best of all, we don’t have to go to beauty supply stores and get treated poorly. We can type in a few keywords online, order a great product from another Black woman and figure out what does and doesn’t work for our locks.
Established companies must step their game up to meet the demands of this new consumer mindset. These big brands can’t keep coming with the same cheap re-packaged products and think that we’re going to continue to spend our money with them. We know we can choose to buy a great conditioner at a local craft fair and or try a new moisturizer that is YouTube hair guru approved. We have more alternatives and we aren’t forced to buy terrible or potentially harmful products anymore. And if the options we do have don’t appease us, we can create our own concoctions in the kitchen.
I think women these days look at brands we grew up using as inferior. For example, we might think that women who still grease their scalps with pink oil are unenlightened. We know a little bit more now, and have more access, so we’re inclined to make better purchase decisions because there are more options. But we can also that power to resurrect a granny-esque product. Just look at Blue Magic hair grease challenges and growth testimonials. Competition in the market doesn’t always have to hurt old-school brands, but it does push them to update their product lines.
Buying Black beauty brands both big and small creates healthy competition. Businesses, and Black women in general, are finally realizing that we are the number one spenders when it comes to hair care and hairdressing, and we’re starting to realize the power in those numbers and statistics. We’re not this homogeneous group that blindly supports one company. Diversifying how we spend money on hair care is good for the market and good for us in general.
New hair care companies are giving these bigger brands a run for their money, and you know what? I’m perfectly fine with it, and you should be too. We have the power in our purses to choose what we like and make business owners listen. We buy what’s right for us, and if a big brand doesn’t want to listen, then it’s on to the next, and we’re taking our dollars with us.
LaKrishia believes every woman has the power to choose her own adventure. She writes about creativity, lifestyle and big ideas at www.ARMOURELLE.com.