All Articles Tagged "black hair"
Carol’s Daughter has been a long time favorite hair care line of mine. So when I found out the brand launched a new Monoi Oil line, I was excited to try a few of the products. Three products I was particularly eager to give a go were the Monoi Oil Sacred Strengthening Hair Serum, the Repairing Flexible Hold Hairspray, and the Repairing Anti-Breakage Spray. I have relaxed hair, so I like to use products like these in the summer to minimize breakage, add lots of sheen, and manage my hair on the go.
The Monoi Oil is formulated with the oils of Monoi de Tahiti, olive, grape seed, plum seed, rose hip seed, safflower seed, kukui seed, argan, and watermelon seed, along with vitamins A and E.
I started to use the product nine weeks after my last perm and the oil helped soften my new growth and minimized breakage. It also provided a healthy and strong sheen, so I didn’t have to spray oil sheen on my hair constantly or grease my scalp.
The Sacred Strengthening Hair Serum works best when used with the Flexible Hold Hairspray. The holding spray allows for your blowouts, barrel or pin curls to hold their style during the most humid temperatures. Unlike most holding sprays, your hair doesn’t break off because of chemical ingredients. The spray’s ingredients are Monoi oil, vitamin E and pro-vitamin B5, coconut oil, and sunflower seed oil. The spray is also lightweight, great for brushing and styling your hair.
The spray can also be used when flat-ironing or curling your hair. As I prepared for a trip to Atlanta for work, I used the Flexible Hold Hairspray the day before departing. Once I arrived in Atlanta, the weather was very humid, but thankfully, my hair was not affected. I did a dry roller set at night and wrapped my hair in the morning. Once I unwrapped my hair before going to work, I noticed my hair still had an intense shine and bounce. My hairstyle also lasted throughout my trip, despite the heat. The Carol’s Daughter Monoi hair care line is a winner in my book, especially for this summer season.
To purchase these particular products and more from Carol’s Daughter, visit the Home Shopping Network to place your orders. The Flexible Hold Hairspray is $11, and Sacred Strengthening Hair Serum sells for $19.95. Both come in sleek packaging and are long lasting.
Andy Cohen effed up on Sunday evening during an episode of “Watch What Happens Live.” But he wasn’t the only one. Sadly, two of our own, Laverne Cox and Andre Leon Talley, joined him.
Cohen, who is essentially the face of Bravo, stirred the ire of Black Twitter and Twitter account-less Black people by naming the feud between Amandla Stenberg and Kylie Jenner “Jackhole of the Day.”
And though we’re generally not here for social media beef, the exchange Stenberg and Jenner was far from a feud.
Amandla told the truth and Kylie responded by deflecting and name dropping.
In case you missed the discussion, over the weekend, we reported that Stenberg commented on a picture of Kylie Jenner wearing cornrows, saying:
“When u appropriate black features and culture but fail to use ur position of power to help black Americans by directing attention towards ur wigs instead of police brutality or racism #whitegirlsdoitbetter.”
I see no lies.
“Mad if I don’t, Mad if I do…. Go hang w Jaden or something”
It’s no secret that the Kardashians have made a name for themselves and built an empire off the names of Black men and the features of Black women. (I’ll be sure to provide an in depth list later.)
But Andy Cohen did not appreciate the exchange.
“Today’s Jackhole goes to the Instagram feud between Kylie Jenner and Hunger Games star/Jaden Smith’s prom date Amandla Stenberg who criticized Kylie for her cornrows, calling it cultural appropriation. White girls in cornrows… is it OK or nay, Laverne and Andre?”
Well, Black folk aren’t happy about this. And many, specifically on Twitter, have been calling for a boycott of the Bravo network.
— Ahsoka Maven (@scifimaven) July 14, 2015
— amberwavesofgray (@amberwavesgray) July 14, 2015
— gee saint (@luvlygeenius) July 14, 2015
In defense against claims that he called Stenberg herself a jackhole, Cohen tweeted:
To clarify, I gave the jackhole to an online feud & certainly not to the topic or to any individual. I ironically hate online feuds.
— Andy Cohen (@Andy) July 14, 2015
I get that he might not have been trying to attack Stenberg personally and was instead labeling this so-called feud jackhol-ish. But, first, this was not a feud. And second, failing to address the issue of cultural appropriation is problematic; particularly, as one Twitter user noted, for a White man who makes good money off of Black women’s culture, stories, style and dysfunction.
Why when a Black women brings up a topic of discussion is it immediately labeled as aggressive? Why didn’t Andy see this for what it was, Amandla attempting, through social media, to educate Kylie about her privilege? We can argue about the medium she chose all day long but her words were not aggressive.
Furthermore, insult was added to injury when Cohen’s two Black panelists of the evening Laverne Cox and Andre Leon Talley joined in on the discussion. Both have been activists in their own realms. Talley has spoken consistently about racism in the fashion industry and Cox is nothing short of an activist for Trans rights, specifically highlighting the injustices trans women of color face.
So, it is deeply disappointing that neither one of these people used this moment, this platform to not only stand with Amandla but also on the side of truth.
When Cohen asked Cox and Talley if there was something wrong with White women wearing cornrows, Talley said they were “fine” and Cox said, “Umm…Bo Derek.”
That’s exactly the issue.
Black women had been wearing cornrows for years, centuries even. Suddenly, Bo Derek dons them and it’s all the rage. And Bo Derek, a White woman is often credited for making the style hot.
Y’all may think this discussion about Bo Derek and Kylie Jenner’s hair is trivial. But it’s bigger than this hairstyle.
For far too long White people have not only been taking credit for our brilliance they’ve been profiting off of it, at the expense of Black people, the people who created it. It is a devastating, crushing feeling to be ignored or dismissed and then later see that your contributions are being appreciated and applauded when it is being packaged and delivered through White skin.
And it further perpetuates the myth of Black inferiority.
I’m not surprised Andy Cohen didn’t see that. But Laverne and Andre Leon Talley should have known better.
Well, it seems that folks are after Zendaya Coleman again.
As par for the course, Coleman victimization comes courtesy of some unidentified “hate” she received after unveiling a new yet temporary pixie-cut hairstyle at the BET Awards.
According to ABC News, “many” took to Twitter to rag on the Disney starlet’s hair during the broadcast. And in response, Coleman took to the same platform where folks were allegedly tormenting her and posted a couple of selfies. The caption: “When people don’t like your hair but they tweetin bout you tho….#idgaf #idgaf”
After the show, she responded to her hair haters again on Instagram with a video in which she yanked off the wig and ensured them that the cut was only temporary, showing off full, long hair.
This isn’t the first time Coleman has been the subject of hair-shaming. Earlier this year, all of Twitter, as well as a couple of celebrity friends (most notably Kelly Osbourne), came to her defense after Fashion Police host Giuliana Rancic ragged on her hair. During an Academy Awards post-highlight show, Rancic said that Coleman’s faux dreadlocks looked like they smelled of patchouli and weed. In response to Rancic’s remarks the 18-year-old star of K.C. Undercover took to Instagram and said in part: “My wearing my hair in locks on an Oscar red carpet was to showcase them in a positive light, to remind people of color that our hair is good enough.”
No doubt that this was a beautifully expressed sentiment in defense of a long misunderstood and berated hairstyle, which has been worn for years by celebrities and everyday hard-working citizens alike. But this time around, the alleged hair-shaming seems a little more dubious. In short, I have questions. For one, what’s so repulsive about a hairstyle, which has been worn by just about every third celebrity woman on the red carpet, from Halle Berry to NeNe Leakes? And secondly, who are these haters and what did they say exactly? Most of the responses I saw on Twitter about her red carpet hairstyle were pretty tame, if not complimentary.
I have to say that there is something a little attention seeking about the whole hair ordeal. And when it comes to these haters, I need to know [and in my T.I. voice]: Where. Dey. At. Doe?
To be honest, Coleman has been soaking up the sympathy since critics called into question her casting in the role of Aaliyah in the now infamous and disastrously-produced Lifetime biopic about the deceased star’s life. I’ll admit: I was one of those folks who wasn’t fond of the idea either. In short, I just couldn’t stomach the idea of this Disney princess faking urban. And as far as I was concerned, the entire casting choice was as laughable as the time when Michael Jackson tried to act tough in his “Bad” video. Or worse, when Jessica Alba faked homegirl in Honey. And yes, I know, Aaliyah wasn’t exactly super hood. But she did have a little edge to her and also rolled with the likes of Damon Dash and Jay Z, which was enough to get a couple notches on her street cred punch card. I just didn’t see that in Coleman.
Still, Coleman garnered a lot of attention from that controversy. Her name and her face were in every media outlet both stateside and abroad. Petitions were created to get her pulled from the film project. That includes this one by notorious African author Kola Boof, who said,“There is nothing about Coleman that reminds me of the Social Image or the Sociological folkways and Valuation that Aaliyah embodied and represented.”
And folks across the blogosphere were also writing very heartfelt essays in defense of her. Like this IndieWire piece written by Prachi Gupta which stated in part: “If Coleman sees herself as a black woman (though likely her identity is more complicated than that), is it fair for society to tell her that she’s not?” Coleman would eventually bow out of the film project, but when the dust cleared, she became a symbol of sorts for the debate about colorism and the need for intra-racial unity.
The same thing happened after Rancic’s ill-advised remarks. Granted, her comments were made during a show, which is structured around ragging on people about their appearance. Still, Rancic’s sentiments tapped into a very real pain centered around our current Eurocentric beauty standard. And once again, Coleman, who only wore the hairstyle once, became a symbol for the need to accept diverse beauty and hair.
Now, I am not saying that Coleman purposely caused herself to be the center of controversies around her faux dreadlocks and skin color. The Internet and Rancic did that on their own. But in an industry which relies on press, both good and bad, is it not at all plausible to think that something else could be going on this time around? Might she be trying to pull on people’s heartstrings again by dredging up old hair politics to gain some publicity and keep her name out there?
Think about it: If not for the controversies, why else would we be talking about her?
This week Urban Outfitters resurfaced in the news with a new (but throwback) hair accessory many of us have used during our childhood—bobos (or hair bubbles).
Known for taking clothing designs or accessories from various cultures and making it “trendy,” Urban Outfitters now has the hair accessory, but the price has some people doing a double take. Priced at $8 for one, the retailer has become the laughing stock of the internet, thanks to Black Twitter.
Those of us who grew up using hair accessory know a pack of 20 will cost you $5 at your local beauty supply store. Even better the pack will have bobos in various colors.
Despite this, we all know Urban Outfitters will con someone into buying their “Marble Ponytail Holder,” just because it’s from their brand.
Black Twitter has created the hashtag #UrbanOutfittersBeLike to let the company know what they think of the latest offering. The hashtag features various cultural items used by Blacks and Latinos but with an Urban Outfitters spin.
— TerrBears♪(´ε｀ ) (@dancer1695) June 26, 2015
— Petty La’Belle. (@RukaTrue_) June 26, 2015
— nah (@__BackToBlack) June 26, 2015
— t4l (@SamAlvee) June 26, 2015
Do you think Urban Outfitters should rethink their sales strategy?
Coloring your hair is no joke. One false move can mean a world of difference when it comes to having your hair on fleek — or on the floor. So how do you make sense of the labels on the endless bottles of dye on the shelves at the hair store?
Hoyu, the premiere hair coloring company behind Bigen Permanent Powder and Semi-Permanent hair coloring, is here to help. With the slogan, “The origin of beauty,” it’s no wonder Bigen is taking the ingredients in their hair coloring systems back to nature’s origins with natural extracts you never even knew your hair color should have. Like these four:
Honey makes the hair soft, plain and simple. While Hoyu ensures their Bigen products don’t damage the hair by having a coloring formula that doesn’t contain ammonia or hydrogen peroxide, a little honey definitely sweetens the pot — and softens the tresses.
Beeswax adds moisture to hair and is included in the formulation of Bigen Semi-Permanent Hair Color, which is important as coloring can dry out hair.
Sunflower is included in the formulation of Bigen Semi-Permanent Hair Color as well and is rich in vitamins like A, B, C and E and minerals like iron, potassium and calcium which minimizes the damage in the coloring process.
You likely already use this hair and body staple on a regular, but including this extract in their semi-permanent products further adds to the built-in conditioner element of the color, providing silky smoothness.
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.