When black children learn the idea of "bad hair" in the least expected place: home

By Fabiana Mascarenhas

 
As a child I was ashamed of my hair. I dreamed of having a hairstyle like my friends in class, always straight and shiny. Television, the media, the toy industry, the society itself, all made me think it was ugly to have curly/kinky hair. No wonder, I was one of the many children who had nicknames because of skin color. Born to a black father and white mother in the family, my parents made me understand that I was beautiful the way I was born. There was never any speech in defense of blacks, just like there was never any custom of styling my hair in the afro style in order to reaffirm my blackness.
 
Perhaps, because of this, an episode that happened last week moved me. A black child, with hair that was blow dried straight got on a crowded elevator with her mother in a shopping center in Salvador. The child, who I imagined being between seven and eight years old, looked at me and, after much review, asked why my hair “was up.” I explained that it was not “up” and that I combed it like this because I liked it and that I thought it was pretty. Then she said: “It’s rough, right?” At that moment everyone in the elevator laughed. I responded that it is curly, not rough. “There is no rough hair or soft hair, but straight, curly, wavy and kinky hair. And yours, how do think it is?” I ask.
 
She replied that her mother says that her hair is rough so she straightens it. “I don’t like it. I wanted my hair like yours but my mother doesn’t like it. She says it’s a poor, black thing”, she said innocently. The mother, without looking at me at any moment, gave the girl a strong pinch and said: “Girl, how can you say such a thing! Shut up!”  At that very moment there was an awkward silence in the air. People came in and out, the child, with a teary face, stopped looking at me and kept staring at the elevator door.
 
We then came to the 11th floor and I had to get off. But before I left, I spoke to the girl: “Your mother has a right to her opinion and choose how she wants to style it, but having hair like that is not poor, black thing. It doesn’t matter if the person is black, white, rich or poor, a person has the right to wear and do whatever she wants with her hair. When you grow up and can take care of your own hair, then you leave it the way that you want, okay?”
 
The little girl just smiled. The mother, on the other hand, looked at me with a face of indignation. She pulled the girl near to her and said in an altered tone: “You can let me take care of my daughter. She will have her hair the way I want it.” It was then that I said: “That may well be, but this is her race, ma’am. And that, fortunately, you can’t change.” The elevator door closed.
 
Again, I remember my parents, who always showed me that any person should be respected the way they were, regardless of color or social class. You could have your hair braided, curly, brushed, “black power (afro)”, in short, each one adheres to the style that suits that person. More than teaching their daughter to appreciate her own race, the values ​​that were passed down to me were based on a respect for diversity. And this is how I grew up, with the understanding that, rather than my appearance, my blackness was in my consciousness.
 
This case calls attention to the total naiveté of the child and the mother’s position, who was as black as me. After the elevator door closed, I felt sorry for the girl. What kind of values ​​was that mother passing on to her daughter? I wonder if having this type of upbringing, she will grow up taking a different position. Most likely not, which further complicates the battle against  prejudice, since children like her are the agents of the future. They will be the heads of businesses, religious centers, government, and reproducing the prejudice that has persisted for years precisely because of this absurd transfer of values. We cannot forget, no one is born prejudiced. So parents, I ask: What kind of values ​​are you passing on to your children?
 
About Marques Travae 2895 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

7 Comments

  1. Thank you for this entry…this is one off the most important issues facing Africans globally. All too often, we're made to apologize for being black. Paul Mooney says "When your hair is nappy…white folks ain't happy"There's so much truth to that quip.

  2. I have hope for the girl. I've known many women who've been told for years…decades by their mothers that their hair was naturally wrong or ugly or needed to be straight, who now wear their hair natural. It may be because "textured" hair is in style now, but regardless, they've grown past the idea that their hair needs to be corrected. Regarding what Frank said though, I hope that we one day can get past what makes White people happy or upset and just let ourselves be for what we are.

  3. VERY INTERESSING ARTICLE. BUT I AM NOT SURPRISED BY THIS. AND IT HAPPENS IN A LOT OF BLACK HOMES. IF YOU READ THE STORY OF BLACK WOMEN AND THEIR NATURAL HAIR, MOST OF THEM HAVE TO FIGHT/HEAR AGAINST NEGATIVE ATTITUDE/ PERCEPTION INSIDE THEIR OWN FAMILY.SAD VERY SAD.I AGREE WITH BOTH OF YOU.

  4. Great blog again. My wife has been going natural since 2007 and she absolutely loves it. She embraces what she is and what God gave her and I respect her deeply for that. My daughter's hair will be styled in the same manner as my wife's, as my wife has set the tone.

  5. No offense to Paul Mooney, but in my experience its more like "when your hair is nappy, black folks ain't happy". I've gotten more negative comments from black people than white.

  6. I’m of the opinion that Paul Mooney’s comment is correct in the context of the “system” he speaks about–the system racism/white supremacy that dominates all people classified as “non-white” on this planet. It is a mafia system established, maintained and perpetuated by gangsters who classify themselves as “white” for the exclusive sake of White Power. The system operates by mistreating and exploiting people on the basis of color.

    Under this global parasite system, victims, subjects and servants are conditioned by their “white” oppressors to unwittingly use their time and energy to support the system. Victims also suffer from a belief that there are aspects of the system that can be saved, or that there is a collective “white” conscience that can be appealed to. This is always a trap. Anyone aspiring to be a Hue-man must let this monster go.

    As it now struggles for its very life, the system is becoming more “refined” in its racism. The venomous “old wine” is being poured in new bottles like “multiculturalism” and “diversity” initiatives. The myth of race will intensify. The enthralled subjects will be “cheerleaders” for what actually strangles them.

    Employing “weapons of mass distraction”–primarily in media outlets–many confused victims will blame fellow inmates for their suffering, not the system itself. We will hear more comments that people who complain about racism, are “racists,” that “racism” does not exist, or that we live in a “post-racial” society. “Black” celebrities will be “showcased” so that the deluded masses will think they too have risen. But careful examination will reveal that the constants of the system of racism/white supremacy remain in place–slaves are to still serve their masters for the sake of White Power.

    As conduits of their racist overlords, as victims struggle with various stages of “possession,” they mutter to themselves all day long, “what master hates, I hate; what master loves, I love.” This is the programming code working in all major facets of human activity: economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex and war.

    The basic strategy of the system of racism/white supremacy is to make its victims feel alienated from what is natural, and to take truth for lies and lies for truth. Conditioned by racists to act out self-hatred, subjects not only hate their very state of being–African hair, skin, lips, noses–but will despise others who resemble them.

    It follows that “indirectly,” blacks will receive more negative comments and violence from other “blacks” than directly from the programming source–“white” racists. Moreover, by deceptively redirecting the hostility that “blacks” harbor and seek to vent…back into their victims and re-channeled as self-hatred, “white” racists come off as “innocent” of the persistent problems of their subjects. No, under the system of white supremacy/racism, “white” racists are most to blame for debasement of human potential.

    Black females are in sore need of places of refuge where they can review what is happening to them, trade stories, connect dots and strategize on how to stop their mistreatment. This is the beauty of this web site. The elephant in the room that makes discussions like this necessary in the first place is the matrix of racism/white supremacy. It is an evil system that needs to be replaced with Justice as soon as possible. Nothing about the system can be moaned over, sifted through or held back. Nothing can be glossed over. It must go–period.

    To understand what the “system” of white supremacy/racism is, and how it works, many suggest reading and studying the counter-racism work of Neely Fuller Jr., and his book, “The United Compensatory Code System Concept.” Besides YouTube clips, Fuller’s weekly show and archives of it can be heard online at http://www.Talktainmentradio.com.

    Books by the late Dr. Amos Wilson, including “The Falsification of African Consciousness,” and “The Isis Papers” by Dr. Francis Cress Welsing also offer tremendous insight and constructive suggestions in counter-racism and self-acutalization. Dr. Wilson’s former business partner maintains a Facebook page for the hard hitting psychologist.

    Lastly, don’t listen to anything I write; trust your own feelings, study and do experiments. I’m still learning, but I hope my reply has some constructive value.

  7. So far this is the one and only ‘fair’ and very good article written in this blog.
    That’s the reality. Spot on..

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