Does Isaiah Mustafa Owe Black Women an Apology?

October 6, 2011  |  

When Isaiah Mustafa rode onto our television screens on his white horse some of us were truly smitten.

For me? Eh… not so much.

Now, don’t get me wrong the brotha was funny. Those commercials had me dying laughing. But the sistas weren’t laughing so hard after Isaiah made comments about “good hair” last week on E! News.

Mustafa was talking to anchor, Giuliana Rancic about his show “Charlie’s Angels” when Rancic started asking him about his personal love life. Eventually she asked Mustafa what type of woman he was looking for. Mustafa said that he wanted a woman who was athletic, honest and someone who had “good hair”.

Doh!

No, no Isaiah!

I don’t know Mustafa personally- so I don’t know how in touch he is with black culture, but by now, (thanks to Chris Rock) even white people know that when it comes to black women, hair is a very sensitive subject.

Let me first start by saying I’m not mad at Mr. “I’m On a Horse”. Maybe he was joking, maybe he really does have a preference for a particular hair type. Whatever the case, I don’t have the time or energy to get mad at every person, black or white, who expresses a negative opinion about black women. If I chose to live that life I’d never be happy again.

Plus I don’t need to get angry. There were plenty of media outlets who had some words of their own for Mustafa. Chief among them was ESSENCE, who provided a platform for Isaiah’s apology, but not without expressing their severe disappointment first. And he did seem sincerely apologetic, ya’ll.

But I really don’t need an apology. From all of this I just hope Mustafa has learned that for black women hair, for better or worse, is more than just another physical feature. And I know India said we are not our hair. But the fact that she had to remind us of this fact, lets you know just how deep it can be for us.

A majority of black men, like Mustafa, have never felt the pressure from mainstream media, their jobs or their family to wear their hair a certain way for fear they’d be labeled unattractive or unemployable. And that’s why we’re so sensitive about it. For centuries, and even today, our hair and the way others perceive it has the ability to affect the way we feel about ourselves.

Is this right? No. Is it so? Definitely.

Whether you were feeling Mustafa or not, comments like his force black women to look at ourselves again and wonder if trivial choices such as the way we wear our hair make us desirable and appealing.

Again, I’m not mad at Mustafa. I accept my hair and myself. But this wasn’t always the case; and as a woman who had to work for this self-acceptance, I can understand why other women would be just a tad bit offended.

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