Thursday, July 31, 2008

Afro Latin-Americans: Reactions

I’ve gotten some interesting reactions about the MiamiHerald article that I posted last month about Afro-Latin Americans. A lady replied to say that :

I am so proud of seeing how you are comfortable with your yourself. You definitely feel good in your skin. However, I don't share your views on hair and its relationship to blackness. Being black has nothing to do with nappy, kinky, straight, or curly hair. Black women have the right to wear their hair whichever
way please them. Caucasian women do not define their whiteness by their
hairstyle. They feel free to wear their hair short, long, straight, curly, black, white, purple, braided, with or without extension and they are still white. Perm was actually very popular with Caucasian women to make their hair curly some decades ago.

Haircare is a billion dollar industry and black women only make a small portion of it. It is the irony of the human race to always want what they do not have. Curly hair women want straight hair and vice versa. Long hair women want short hair and vice versa. The analogies can go on and on.

And the beauty of it all is that the billion dollar haircare industry can
satisfy us all.In industries that are very conservative, like banking, law,
business (non-art related), women tend to portray a more conservative look.
Ironically, conservative equates straight hair. However, in industries that
involve the art, fashion, etc... women are more free to express their creativity
through their hairstyle. Consequently, you will more likely see women with
purple hair working in graphic design than in banking.I don't straigten my hair
to become white just like white women do not curl their hair

But this article was not written by me. Although many women including myself can relate to it, it doesn’t speak for my opinion about hair relaxing. I don’t have anything against women who choose to relax their hair. That’s what is great about being in a free world. We can make our choices. What I’ve been rebelling against is the notion that choosing to have natural hair makes black women less acceptable. I am against that pressure that most women in Haiti or elsewhere living on less than $2 a day have to bear. Indeed, despite being unable to meet their most basic needs, they manage to straighten their hair most of the time by themselves or a friend not capable of reading the instructions and ending up burning their scalps, damaging their hair, and being caught up in a cycle of failed expectations and lost self-esteem.

My Dominican friend did not agree either with the article. She wrote:

As a Dominican black Woman, I think this article is not in touch with the
reality of the Dominican Woman. It is not a denial of being black why most
Dominican straighten their hair, but more to "look good" by their own standard
that is...And Yes, there is still at lot of racism back home. Sad, but that's
the reality. However, I have never felt more discriminated against than when I
moved to the USA.

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