All Articles Tagged "culture"
GhettoNation: A Journey Into the Land of Bling and Home of the Shameless, is an assessment into a developing culture of people of all racial, socio-economic, and religious backgrounds who are victims of a “ghetto mentality” and choose to celebrate that publicly. The book defines “ghetto” as being a state of mind and not a person, place, or thing. The term has been used not only as a noun, but also as an adjective used to describe people who are examples of the ideology of ghettonation.
Written by Cora Daniels, the book first begins with the origin of the term and where ghettos stemmed from. Ghetto was actually an isolated place, inhabited by Jewish immigrants to keep them confined and separated from the wealthy middle and upper class. However, the term has evolved dramatically from its historical context and is now a word in our daily vernacular that refers to a distinct group of people that derive from a socio-economic underclass. We tend to refer to those people as individuals who live in the projects, have ethnic-sounding names like Shaquanda, or claim to have more than one babidaddy.
They be ghetto.
As Cora Daniels repeats (we be ghetto) incessantly in her book to the point of annoyance, she illustrates a valid point by relentlessly inserting “we be ghetto” within the text of her book. We are a culture that celebrates and worships all that is ghetto. When I read Cora’s book, it was a bit jarring at first, because she brought up many of the examples mentioned previously about what constitutes as ghetto.
Multiple babidaddies or babimommas
Ethnic sounding names or nicknames like Q-Tang and Nuck-Nuck
Living in public housing (aka the projects)
However, this book is not just about this tiny demographic of what mainstream media wants you to believe is ghetto. Ghetto is not a tangible thing, but it’s a state of mind. Therefore, anyone regardless of your economic status or racial background can be ghetto. Yes, you TOO can be ghetto. The term babidaddy or babimomma tends to correlate to the word ghetto whenever the expression is uttered. However, rather than thinking about Shaquanda from the projects, let us take a look at thirty-six year old British model-turned-actress Elizabeth Hurley shall we?
Oh, that’s right. The bad grammar was ghetto.
Hurley gave birth to a baby boy by Steve Bing whom she claimed was the father of her child. Of course in ghetto terms we would say “babidaddy”, but it’s the same thing. A man who bears a child outside of the confines of matrimony is in fact a babidaddy. In Hurley’s case, it gets better. Bing, whose net worth at the time was close to $400 million, denied he was ever the father of their child. Hurley and Bing had to go Maury Povich-style on getting a paternity test to prove he in fact was the father. All the while Bing was named a father in another paternity suit. How ghetto is that? Take a moment to ponder and ask yourself, if this story was presented to you, would you think that the Hurley-Bing case was ghetto? Or if we replaced Elizabeth Hurley with Shaquanda Jackson and T-Dawg from Canarsie, Brooklyn would you use the term ghetto?
That’s a pretty tough pill to swallow isn’t it? In Daniels book she also talks about how mediocrity and low expectations are celebrated in our society. In our community, if a man takes care of his kids and doesn’t go to jail it is viewed as a valiant act. This is to be revered in the African American community. She also dissects the idea that by somehow perpetuating a façade of strength by acting tough through the use of carrying a weapon, getting into fights, wearing certain hip hop attire, and having an attitude of indifference that somehow that validates your blackness. This is the part of the article where you may disagree with me on, but as someone who has been a victim of being called “white” through most of her childhood, I believe it is this very pseudo persona that has become the plight of the black community. The ideal of speaking a certain way, acting a certain way, and dressing a certain way adds a “certain” authenticity to your blackness, and I believe that is the very bane of our existence as a functioning people.
However, the ideology of ghetto is not strictly a black thing. In fact it never was. According to Daniels, even a wealthy socialite who has never stepped one foot into anything remotely middle-class can act and be…well you know ghetto. Several years back when hit reality series The Simple Life aired, starring Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie, Hilton, the wealthy hotel chain heiress, got frustrated when her car wouldn’t start. She finally gave up and simply stated…”this is so ghetto”.
What in the world would Paris Hilton know about what is and what is not ghetto?
I actually could care less what Paris Hilton knows, but it does lead one to question, is the term ghetto simply an implicit concept to all people from all walks life?
Can we all inherently be ghetto to some extent regardless of intellect and socio-economic status?
Towards the end of Daniels’ book, she explicitly describes her own experience of being allegedly ghetto when she and her husband brought their three week old baby with them to the movie theater at an 8pm film showing.
We can all agree that bringing a three week old baby into a movie theater is ghetto.
She states in her book and I quote:
There are no absolutes. Ghetto is a mind-set and we are all infected…we can never stop trying to compassionately raise our expectations.
In other words, there may be some ghetto aspects to all of us, but what matters is what you try to do to raise the bar and not try to be like everyone else. The mainstream may celebrate ghetto as depicted on reality TV shows, music videos, and social media. However, don’t feel like because you reside in a community that has a monolithic approach to certain standards, that somehow you are obligated to follow them. You’re not being disloyal if you step outside of the box. Even if that means you choose not to be ghetto.
Perhaps we all have our ghetto moments. Some just prefer to mask it more than others.
You may agree to disagree on Daniels’ social commentary on this subject, but it is interesting how there has been a shift in our culture with respect to the term. You can purchase Cora Daniels book GhettoNation here (http://www.amazon.com/Ghettonation-Journey-Into-Bling-Shameless/dp/0385516436).
The morning following last month’s presidential inauguration, you may have scrolled through your Facebook feed only to find the above collage with a caption that read, “Based solely on historical contributions, should Jay and Bey be in this collage?” Call me a progressive-thinker, or maybe it’s because I spend a majority of my days with teens who have to explain to me what words like “trappin’” and “ratchet” mean, but I found myself wondering, “Why wouldn’t they be?” Meanwhile, co-workers and Facebookers truly surprised me with responses like, “They haven’t broken any racial barriers or anything,” and “Beyoncé and Barack don’t even belong in the same category.”
I beg to differ. And the question then becomes, what does it take to be considered “black history”? The significant contributions of those that today’s youth identify with may not be sit-ins for social change or marches breaking racial barriers, but does that make them any less a part of our culture? Yesterday’s Jackie Robinsons are today’s Jay-Zs in their eyes. When you think of black history, American entertainers and famous figures of today could be considered the black history of this generation’s tomorrow. If this is a collage about social change and politics, then maybe Bey and Jay should have a seat. But if we want to talk about African Americans who have made significant contributions to our culture, yes, they are in the same category as our POTUS and FLOTUS. They’ve built brands and businesses and broken records. Barack, Beyoncé and Booker T. Washington have more in common than you think: they’ve all made history and opened many a door.
Just hear me out. I definitely agree our generation is plagued by a frightening disconnect between sacrifices of yesterday’s leaders that are responsible for so many of the opportunities we often take for granted today. One of the reasons why I fell in love with President Obama’s message and mission is because I feel like he truly understands what so many of us fail to grasp: In order to make our youth understand and value the opportunities that have been presented to them, we have to meet them where they are at. How can we expect young people to truly appreciate their history and culture if we fail to acknowledge the idols who have made history during their lifetimes? President Obama got it right when he invited Jay-Z to do a voice over for his campaign ads. One of the reasons why his election was so greatly affected by the high number of young voters was because he understood that they would never hear his message for change if they felt he was someone who couldn’t understand their voice as well.
Let’s be honest, when black history month rolled around, for 28 days throughout our childhoods we saw the same names in rotation: Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks and George Washington Carver, aka, “The Peanut Guy.” And while I could appreciate the paths they had paved, a part of me couldn’t truly identify with their struggle. “You have to know where you came from to know where you’re going,” sounded profound and all, but it’s only as an adult that I’m starting to realize how heavily our present successes rest on the shoulders of our history. When I was in ninth grade, all I cared about was making sure my Timberland sign showed on my boots. I cared more about what I was wearing to school as opposed to the fact the ancestors lost their lives so that I could even attend. When trying to relate anything to our young people from black history to birth control, you have to speak in their language and become familiar with what is important to them before you can attempt to teach what SHOULD be important to them. Acknowledging the contributions to our culture that today’s leaders in entertainment, politics and sports bring to the table doesn’t diminish or throw shade on the foundation that was built from those who fought and died for the belief in something better. We have to do more than throw on the Roots anthology and repeat, “People have died for the rights you take for granted.” We have to find a way to make it relate to the things they are going through today.
Closing that gap requires us to challenge our stagnant way of thinking that says that black history is something that began and ended and acknowledge it as an ongoing process that only continues to grow greater. And as with any culture, that means accepting it in its totality and not just picking the parts we’re personally proud of. What we shouldn’t do is make black history some outdated, pretentious social club that those born before 1960 have the monopoly on and act as though black history isn’t accepting any new members.
Before talking about how Sidney Poitier was the first African American to win an Academy award, try mentioning the fact that Tyler Perry is the first African American ever to launch his own major TV and film studio. Can we show the same love that we showed Jackie Joyner Kersee and Wilma Rudolph, to Serena Williams and Gabby Douglas? Maybe, just maybe, our kids will talk about Alicia Keys like we once talked about Aretha Franklin. And before catching feelings over the bible Barack Obama is using, take a few minutes to consider the fact that we have lived to see our first black president. There’s surely enough pride to go around. The fact that our leaders of yesterday have leaders of today to help bear the burden of uplifting our culture is not a threat but a credit to all of their sacrifices. And although we may not want our kids breaking out at the black history recital with a rendition of “Single Ladies,” it’s as much a part of our culture as “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Like it or not.
How do you define black history?
Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog Bullets and Blessings .
Across the country, there are many museums promoting, preserving, and honoring the history and culture of African-Americans. With a focus on art, music, technology, history, and even firefighters, here are ten amazing places to check out if you want a little more culture in your life.
African-American Museum, Dallas, TX
As one of the only museums of its kind in the Southwestern United States, the African-American Museum in Dallas was founded in 1974 at Bishop College, a HBCU that closed in 1988. It ran independently starting in 1979, constructed a new facility that opened in, and houses one of the largest African-American Folk Art collections in the US.
When I first saw the remake of the Karate Kid with Jackie Chan, Jaden Smith, and Taraji P. Henson, I was surprised a bit at the plot. Henson, playing Smith’s mother, is an African-American executive whose new job takes her and her son from Detroit to Beijing, China. There is no denying it — China is a major business hub. I wondered, “Are there many black women working in China?” Yes, I later discovered.
Stephanie Hunt, president and founder of etiquette and protocol firm Swan Noir, recently returned from a stay in Shanghai. Hunt, who plans to move there in the fall of 2013, went to pave the way for her future move to the booming city. “I thought about the business aspect in 2011. There was so much buzz about China. I had been to Beijing, in 2007 for a 10-day tourist trip. It was then that I decided to… attempt to bring Swan Noir there and expand,” she explains. “I want to bring this training to Chinese who travel abroad and Americans and Europeans to China.” Eventually, Hunt wants to expand to other Chinese cities, such as Beijing, Nanjing, and Guangzhou. What she discovered were nuances that will help her along the way to establishing a foothold in the Land of the Dragon.
Business is Not Just Business: Understanding the Chinese Way
These days the Chinese are all about business. But there is an art to doing a deal in the country. They like the personal touch. “China is so complex, I did not want to use traditional American muscle and business tactics. I wanted to learn and experience China first,” Hunt tells us. “The nuances and the details that it takes to interact and do business with the Chinese is enormous. There are superstitions, auspicious colors and numbers, protocol with rank and title, business card etiquette, and so on.” Sabrina Lamb agrees. Lamb is the CEO of the nonprofit World Of Money, a New York City-based nonprofit whose mission is to empower youth with a sound financial foundation. Lamb is planning on bringing a delegation there in August 2013, touring Shanghai, Beijing and Xi-en, during which time she wants to forge business contacts for the nonprofit. She looks to make the visit an annual affair. “Learn cultural modes, such as, in general the Chinese are very shy. Americans tend to gaze in the eyes of others; while we may take their averted eyes as ignoring us or being rude, when in China the opposite is true. Often Chinese will smile once they know that you wish to connect with them,” says Lamb.
Patience Is a Virtue
The Chinese don´t make business decisions rashly. You have to prove yourself time and time again. “I was surprised to discover how much time it could take to actually reach a plateau,” observes Hunt. “I was networking with some Americans and Europeans that have lived in Shanghai for seven years, and nine years, respectively. They are still gaining trust with clients after years of pitching and proving themselves. The return on investment is worth it but it could take years.”
You must also be prepared to connect with potential clients personally. “You have to have patience and be prepared to be confused most of the time. Contracts are different, business is different, the thinking process is different, everything is different,” Hunt points out. “Relationship building is a must. If you are not good at networking and relationship building at home, you will have a really hard time in Asia. Meet people, and host people, drink, eat, karaoke, buffets, drink, talk, exchange ideas, more drinking, more karaoke, etc…”
In the first episode of the web series “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” creator Issa Rae’s character claims that the worse thing anyone can be is black and awkward, simultaneously. Whether that’s true or not is up for debate. But, if Rae’s YouTube views are any indication, awkward Blackness is a more common condition than once thought.
Any awkward girl can tell you, the workplace is ripe with opportunity for the condition to make itself known. Cringe-worthy moments are waiting around every cubicle corner. Fear not. Just because you’re awkward, doesn’t mean your coworkers have to know. Master the scenarios below and you’ll maneuver through the office like a social butterfly.
Scenario #1 – Unexpected Alone Time
You call yourself being a good employee and busting down hundreds of years of stereotypes when you stroll into the conference room on time for your meeting. You find only one other strange soul shares your punctuality. Your thirstiness has been rewarded with being forced to fill silence with a person you never intended to say more than hello to.
Luckily, being a good conversationalist requires good listening skills more than anything. “Most socially confident people deliberately learn specific skills, like understanding the predictable format of a conversation with new people, and focusing on the topic rather than on how one is being perceived,” according to Erika Casriel, writing in Psychology Today. Put the pressure of being entertaining on the other person. Focus on being interested (or feigning interest) in what the other person is saying.
Scenario #2 – Attack of the Personal Space Invaders
You feel like your coworker is getting a little too close for comfort. Or maybe, your boss routinely mistakes your hair for a Shih Tzu that welcomes petting from strangers. We all want to be friendly, but we also all have boundaries that we prefer not be crossed. For your own peace of mind, learn how to put people in their place, nicely.
The key to maintaining personal space is making sure everyone knows where boundaries begin and end. None of your coworkers are mind readers, so bring unacceptable behavior to their attention and let them know why you are asking them to adjust. The trick is to pull off your truth telling pleasantly and firmly. It’s a balance that may take some practice, but a smile goes a long way.
Scenario #3 – Odd Girl Out
You thought you left cliques behind in high school, but your office culture has an established hierarchy, and you are peasant status. Cliques form for a variety of reasons and most of the time they are not malicious. People with similar interests and personalities and those that work in close proximity gravitate toward each other. Don’t take it personally.
One way to penetrate a clique is to take up an interest common to the group. If company kickball isn’t your style, try a one-on-one approach. “If a group of people [isn't] including you, try to develop a relationship with each person individually,” said Julie Jansen, author of You Want Me To Work With Who?. Jansen says people are more open to new friendships when you approach them individually. Instead of tagging along with the group, ask one person to grab coffee with you.
Scenario #4 – F.M.L.
You managed to make it from home to the office without noticing the toilet paper stuck on the back of your pants. Or your boss randomly chooses you as the object of his displaced divorce rage. A truly awkward individual knows that social situations are not always to blame for life’s cringe-worthy moments. Sometimes life conspires against you. When life hands you lemons, make f*** it lemonade.
Humans have a knack for making situations worse by forcing themselves to relive an embarrassing moment over and over. The sooner you let it go and laugh about it, the sooner everyone will move on. Even better, being embarrassed can make people like you more. Researchers at UC Berkeley have discovered that being embarrassed—or even just acting embarrassed—convinces others that you’re more trustworthy.
Perhaps one thing the mayor of Lewiston, Maine has yet to learn is to keep his personal feelings at the door.
Somali immigrants and their supports are asking for an apology and a letter of resignation from Lewiston mayor Robert MacDonald after an interview he did with British Broadcasting Corp saying that Somalis in the town and neighboring towns should “accept our culture and leave yours at the door.” On Thursday, protesters set up shop outside of City Hall in a rally to show their outrage. They also came armed with over 1,400 petitions to support their argument for Mayor MacDonald’s resignation.
Mayor MacDonald made a slight attempt to clarify his comments by saying that all he meant was that immigrants should try to assimilate into American culture. Further, he said his comments were taken out of context and he’d never make derogatory statements about Somalis.
Unfortunately, Lewiston’s Somali community has been the subject of many inflammatory comments over the last 10 years. Former mayor Larry Raymond wrote a letter in 2002 stating that the Somali population in 2002 was growing too fast and made a plea to Somali leaders that they discourage their friends and family from moving there because the city’s resources have been “maxed out.”
This also isn’t the first time Mayor MacDonald has come under fire with his comments. In a local newspaper, he once wrote that “submissive Somali women turn into obnoxious customers at the grocery store cash register.” He also told a reporter at a later time that immigrants shouldn’t “insert your culture, which obviously isn’t working, into ours, which does.”
I know, it’s Maine, so we shouldn’t be surprised. This is a state where 94 percent White – Lewiston is actually 86 percent White – and so maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some of the political leaders there feel this way. But to openly make comments like that? Something is totally wrong with this picture.
Have you ever or do you currently live in a town where you feel that you have to “keep your culture in check?”
We tweeted yesterday about Urbanworld Digital, but, even bigger, the 16th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival kicked off last night with the opening film Being Mary Jane. Starring Gabrielle Union (number 22 on The Root 100) and written by Mara Brock Akil (number 51, who also wrote Sparkle, Girlfriends and The Game), the BET Networks movie is about a single TV news anchor (Union) making a way in her personal and professional life.
Before the movie, however, there was the red carpet (we snapped a quick pic of Gabrielle Union for the cell phone, along with the dozens of photogs and reporters who showed up for opening night). In addition to Union, Akil, BET CEO Debra Lee, Tika Sumpter, and other stars and notable names turned out for the event.
Though Urbanworld has been around for more than a decade, it’s still hard work to finance and organize the event.
“It’s definitely a comprehensive labor of love,” said Gabrielle Glore, the festival’s executive producer and head of programming, who spoke with us over the phone just before opening night. “No one is getting rich off these festivals. Not even the big ones.”
Among the big ones are, of course, Sundance, the Toronto Film Festival, which got a lot of attention this year because Kristen Stewart made her first pre-scandal debut, and Cannes. For all of these festivals, publicity — for the films, for the event itself — is important. Last night’s media turnout no doubt drums up a good deal of attention for the festival.
But more than that, sponsors are important to Urbanworld. “It’s all about sponsors,” said Galore. HBO is Urbanworld’s founding sponsor; BET is its presenting sponsor. “It lets people know that there’s some credibility. The sponsor piece is critical.”
According to Glore, it’s the marketplace that determines the level of sponsorship. “The years that have been more difficult in terms of funding, it’s about what’s happening in the marketplace,” she told us. She says they’ve already started working on the slate of sponsors for next year. The sponsors help determine festival activities, like the digital events and labs.
In addition to that, the festival operates on a strict budget.
“We’re lean and mean and we have money to make it happen,” said Glore.
Historically, Urbanworld has showcased some big-name movies. Collateral, starring Jamie Foxx and Tom Cruise debuted there. Night Catches Us with Anthony Mackie and Kerry Washington opened there two years ago. And there were the showings of both Barbershop films and Secret Life of Bees, among others.
Though many of the movies that the festival screens aren’t necessarily blockbusters on the level of Twilight, they are successful (as that list shows). More than that, they give famous actors the chance to attach themselves to indie projects that they’re passionate about. And it gives filmmakers a chance to show their work in a theater, something that many of them might not otherwise be able to do.
“We definitely don’t characterize ourselves as a black film festival,” said Glore, while acknowledging that many of the films they include involve African American artists. “There’s a cross-cultural sensibility that reflects what America looks like.”
Which is very good for enlisting sponsors. ”Companies want to align with brands and with what’s the future,” Glore adds.
Among the other films showing this year are Won’t Back Down, about reform at an inner city school starring Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Rosie Perez; The Girl is In Trouble a crime movie starring Columbus Short, boasting executive producer Spike Lee and directed by Julius Onah; and the closing night film, Middle of Nowhere, directed by another Root 100 honoree, Ava DuVerney, who was the first African American to win the director’s prize at Sundance for this movie.
For the complete Urbanworld schedule, click here.
At the workplace, unbeknownst to their coworkers, many black women are holding down a second job editing themselves. Whether it’s passing up fried chicken for lunch or feigning ignorance when the conversation turns to Love & Hip Hop, we tend to feel the need to adjust our behavior for mixed company. It’s a practice dating back to W.E.B. Du Bois’ concept of “double consciousness,” a “sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others.” As an upwardly-mobile people, we take great care not to reinforce stereotypes others have of us. Maybe it’s time we let them see the real deal.
I’m guilty of feigning a disability or two for the cause. I’ve pretended I was deaf to spare my co-worker the horror her remark mistaking Kelly Rowland for a member of TLC. I’ve improvised a bout of dementia to forget my manager fingering my waist length braids and asking if they were my real hair (I had a bob the day before). The tales of black women on their best behavior are plentiful and, at times, comedic enough to fill a Web series on the topic.
We work hard to play against the stereotype of the “angry black woman,” but to what end? A recent study found that black women are expected to be pushier at work and receive higher approval ratings when they are assertive. This is in stark contrast to the results for white women and black men, who receive backlash when they exhibit aggressive behavior.
The nice girl act isn’t exactly what our employers and co-workers are looking for. So, should we all walk in the office doing our best Oprah does Ms. Sophia impression? Those can’t be the only options for success. It’s about time black women break the cardinal rule of being black in the workplace – be yourself.
Earlier this week I wrote a piece on the perils of being a black woman. They are very real issues; but for all the drama I, and I’m sure quite of few others, wouldn’t trade being a black woman for anything in the world. Why? Well because even though society, and even our own communities, don’t always appreciate us, there are perks and privileges to being a black women. There are countless benefits but check out this short list.
No one can tell us that black women haven’t had to endure a lot. On top of the racism that our brothas have to endure, we also face that challenge of being a woman in a patriarchal and often misogynist society. But instead of using our status at the bottom of the totem pole as a deterrent, black women have consistently found a way to rise above. You’ve got to love that about us.
Sense of community
Have you ever been in a crowded place, a university classroom, or the supermarket and you make eye contact with another black woman and almost instantly there was a smile and a shared kinship. I know some of you are lost right now. You might have to skip onto the next point. But for the women who know what I’m saying it’s nice to be in the clique. Sure, all women aren’t warm and welcoming but it’s nice to know that there are people out there who identify with you without even knowing your name.
Support of black men
Some of you may call support or loyalty toward black men a burden. Some of you may have shirked it off, asserting that you can’t and won’t deal with it anymore. That’s fine, to each her own; but in my opinion, in a country where we’ve witnessed first-hand the abuse, disenfranchisement and downright hatred directed at black men, it’s nice to be the people they can turn to for support and encouragement. Now, if he doesn’t want from a black woman, so be it; we can’t force anyone. But for the brothas that do need and want that encouragement, it’s nice to be able to offer that, in the context of a romantic or platonic relationship.
As a girl, I always found it alarming that white women on television would complain about their big butts? First of all the booty is a blessing and second of all, what butt? Oh, wide equals big. Ok. I see. But those were the old days before J-Lo made it big and women started running out trying to buy booty pops. Black women had the booty, the thick thighs, and the child-birthing hips naturally, no purchase required.
Black don’t crack
Some of you may still think this is a myth. But a quick comparison of your family members, friends and even celebrities will prove that the black woman does not age like other women. If you still doubt, you should know that studies are starting to find that the melanin which is responsible for our darker hue, also protects against the effects of aging. You’ve got to believe it!
Even though we weren’t even considered in the original conceptualization, black women have provided perfect examples of the American Dream. If you ever needed examples of a people who’ve lifted themselves up by the boot straps (even when we didn’t have boots) and made something of themselves, it’s black women. In addition to the names we know Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells, Maya Angelou, Octavia Butler, Zora Neale Hurston etc., there are women like my mother, your mother, my grandmothers, the women in your family and countless other black women whose names will never receive the recognition they deserve, that have all contributed greatly to our shared legacy. And for that it’s an honor to be a part of the group.
These aren’t the only benefits. What’s the greatest thing about being a black woman?
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Much ado is made about Black hair. Black women are known to be audacious when it comes to our manes. A billion dollar business has been spawned from our need to color, straighten, curl, braid, and coif. Hair means a lot to Black women, but it can mean even more to our career.
Your appearance does not affect your ability to do a job, but it does impact your success. Keeping it cute can influence your salary as much as your work experience. Research shows that attractive people earn an average of 3% to 4% more than a person with below average looks – that comes out to about $230,000 over a lifetime. Even an average-looking worker is likely to make $140,000 more over a lifetime than an ugly worker.
Hair goes beyond aesthetics. It is personal and public: visible to everyone while also being an intrinsic part of our body. Black women carry a great deal of culture in their hair. Since that culture is not a mainstream one, appropriating hair to the workplace can be a tricky process.
For some time, many – including Black women – considered anything outside of straightened hair to be unprofessional. However, as more women go natural, that notion is changing. Professional hair isn’t about texture. For most employers, particularly conservative ones, a professional hairstyle is considered neat, clean, and out of the face. Texture alone is not a deciding factor.