I’ve already written a post about the petition [which we now know is a joke] to get Beyonce to comb Blue Ivy’s hair. However, it seems as though a lot of people have been pushing the issue aside because either a) they really don’t care, b) they feel like it’s a private issue between beyonce and her family, or the most popular reason I’ve been hearing c) there are much more larger things occurring in the world than Blue Ivy’s hair [like war, poverty, genocide, violence, etc].
While I agree that pressing, important issues occur daily, I generally disagree with the idea that this petition isn’t a big deal worth talking about.
The situation surrounding Blue Ivy’s hair is NOT just about hair. It’s about racism, and that makes it a big issue. To frame it as only a hairstyle concern trivializes the real issue.
While the petition was a joke, the reality is that black youth with natural hair are seriously told that their hair is not okay. That they need to change their natural selves if they want visibility, if they want power. Over and over I keep hearing, “I’m so tired of hearing about this issue!” but in reality, I’m tired of hearing racist remarks towards natural hair!
The fact that natural kids are being made fun of nationally is not okay and demonstrates a much larger issue: that in 2014, natural hair is STILL a problem.
This folks is why hair is never just about hair. Hair is political. This is why we rarely ever see natural hair on television. Our black female leaders and celebrities usually hide their natural texture because we all know that it is stigmatized and that’s why we should all gather together to not only support blue ivy, but to support all of our natural kids who are unfortunately still growing up in a climate where they can’t be comfortable with themselves.
Natural hair is not a joke, though it is regularly employed as such. Think about clowns, or white people who wear afros on Halloween….yes, halloween…Our natural hair texture is still considered a prop to help facilitate a joke…and that’s why the joke petition struck a chord with so many people.
I was harassed for months at one my jobs by a woman who kept telling me to “comb my hair.” So, to see that same phrase in a joke petition towards a baby with natural hair is just sad and irritating…and irresponsible. More importantly, it demonstrates a legacy of self-hatred in the black community that is sadly still informed by white supremacy.
So, for those of you who keep thinking the Blue Ivy petition caused no harm, or isn’t a big deal, here are two examples of black children who were humiliated because they have natural hair:
1) Tiana Parker:
In 2013, Tiana Parker was a straight-A student who would usually wear her natural hair in tiny, cute short twists with a pink bow. However, her school told her that she would have to change her hair. According to Ms. Magazine online:
“…Officials at Deborah Brown Community School said that she could not wear her hair that way, and 7 year old Tiana was forced to enroll elsewhere. The school claimed that dreads were a ‘fad hairstyle’ not tolerated on campus.”
Here’s the news clip:
Professor and scholar, Dr. Yaba Blay created a care package for Tiana, composed of a digital book of natural haired black women with locs who told Tiana that her hair was beautiful. Even Alice Walker participated. Check it out HERE.
2) Vanessa Van Dyke:
In 2013, 12 year old Vanessa was attending the private school Faith Christian Academy when she was told that she would either have to cut her hair, or leave. She was told that according to the rule-book for the school, students were not allowed to have an unnatural hair color….or distracting hair. Because her hair is puffy, it was considered distracting. In regards to her hair, Vanessa stated “It says that I’m unique…First of all it’s puffy and I like it that way. I know people will tease me about it because it’s not straight. I don’t fit in.”
Here’s the news clip:
So, before we claim that Blue Ivy’s hair is a personal matter, or trivial because it’s just about hair, we have to come together to support each other. Children are told daily through media ,and now through school administrators, that natural hair is a problem. That is racist…and that is something worth talking about. Remember, the personal is political.