The Carelessness Of Crystal Renay’s Comments About Her Son Not Being “Blessed With Mommy’s ‘Hawaiian Silky'” Hair

March 1, 2018  |  

attends the Teen Choice Awards 2016 at The Forum on July 31, 2016 in Inglewood, California. Getty

Hair conversations outside of “use products 1,2, and 3 for x,y, and z” make me tired. So much so that I can’t believe I’m even addressing the Crystal Renay controversy that had some up in arms earlier this week. The trouble started when Ne-Yo’s wife took to Instagram to ask for recommendations for products to use on her son’s hair. The issue, however, is Crystal prefaced her need for help with a statement many found offensive when she explained, “So my son wasn’t blessed with mommy’s ‘Hawaiian silky.’”

I’ll be honest, when I first heard murmurs of this issue I really didn’t have time for it because, as I said, these episodes of Internet outrage exhaust me. But when I heard Crystal’s response to the backlash I realized there was similar stream of ignorance that ran through all of her statements and I quickly found myself annoyed.

When TMZ caught up with Crystal at the airport yesterday and asked her about the situation she said:

“I love my child and I quoted something that my sister-in-law [Ne-yo’s sister] says to me, so if people want to take things literal that’s fine. I was asking for help and I was met with criticism. But that’s okay because it inspired me to start my own hair care line.”

Okay cool. So you made a joke that should’ve stayed within the family public and now it’s a thing and you’re annoyed. I get it.

But it was her next statement that muddied the waters of understanding for me just a bit. When asked why she thinks people were so upset by her words, Crystal said:

“They assume that I’m not mixed with Black, which I absolutely am. And they don’t like Black men being with ‘white’ women or other racial women and it’s just really stupid. I don’t get into the stereotypes. I will check you.”

So Black women don’t really find you pitting your hair texture against your son’s in a public forum distasteful, they’re really just mad Ne-Yo’s wife is only part Black? Nah sis. I can say with about 99% certainty that no Black woman feels like Ne-Yo was stolen from us.

Speaking for myself alone, I actually had no knowledge of Crystal’s mixed ancestry — meaning I thought the girl was just Black. But I think I’m more offended by her remark now that she has attempted to use her Blackness as a point of pride and then turn the tables on us (“they”) like we’re the ones who have life twisted.

As a Black/bi-racial/part-Black/whatever woman, what offends me is Crystal’s attitude of being removed from the struggle — in more ways than one. On one hand, if we were to indulge her theory of not liking to see Black men with bi-racial wives, don’t act like you don’t understand the roots of some of that misguided hate. But because I believe in my heart that has absolutely nothing to do with the backlash she received, I take issue with her acting as though she doesn’t have the first clue about what to do with her son’s hair.

If you are mixed with Black, why didn’t you ask some of your Black family members for help? Why didn’t you ask your sister-in-law who makes the “Hawaiian silky” jokes or Ne-Yo’s mother? Hell, why didn’t you ask your husband who had hair once upon a time? The answer is because she wanted to have a “good hair” moment on the gram and she thought her followers would think it was cute and it wasn’t. And that brings me to the point my co-worker raised about this situation: the carelessness of it all.

While it’s not uncommon for mothers to reach out on social media for parenting advice on everything from pediatricians to hair products, Crystal’s word choice was, simply put, poor. To say her son wasn’t “blessed” with her hair texture automatically introduces a less than-better than dynamic and implies “Hawaiian silky” is better than whatever grade is growing from her son’s scalp. In a time when we’re all trying to empower young Black boys and girls to embrace who they are, hair texture and all, that comment, while seemingly small and easily dismissive, speaks volumes about the little ways in which we send subtle messages to our youth about their physical appearance, often to their detriment.

No one thinks Crystal is a bad mom. And I believe her when she says, “I love my child’s hair, but I want his hair to have moisture in it.” But when she states, “Don’t penalize me for trying to do something right for my child,” I have to question whether that was the real intent behind her actions. I also recommend she put a little more thought behind her intentions and examine her own unconscious biases about hair texture because if she doesn’t this won’t be the last time she lets a comment like this slip and the fallout won’t just affect her comments section on Instagram, it’ll be her son paying for it with his sense of self-worth.

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