Sunday, July 13, 2008

Black denial

Nearly all Dominican women straighten their hair, which experts say is a direct result of a historical learned rejection of all things black

By Frances Robles


...But a professional Dominican woman just should not have bad hair, she said.
"If you're working in a bank, you don't want some barrio-looking hair. Straight
hair looks elegant," the bank teller said. "It's not that as a person of color I
want to look white. I want to look pretty."

..."I always associated black with ugly. I was too dark and didn't have nice hair," said Catherine de la Rosa, a dark-skinned Dominican-American college student spending a semester here. "With time passing, I see I'm not black. I'm Latina.

...To many Dominicans, to be black is to be Haitian. So dark-skinned Dominicans tend to describe themselves as any of the dozen or so racial categories that date back hundreds of years -- Indian, burned Indian, dirty Indian, washed Indian, dark Indian, cinnamon, moreno or mulatto, but rarely negro.

Several women said the cultural rejection of African looking hair is so strong that people often shout insults at women with natural curls."I cannot take the bus because people pull my hair and stick combs in it," said wavy haired performance artist Xiomara Fortuna. "They ask me if I just got out of prison. People just don't want that image to be seen."

...The Dominican Republic is not the only nation with so many words to describe skin color. Asked in a 1976 census survey to describe their own complexions, Brazilians came up with 136 different terms, including café au lait, sunburned, morena, Malaysian woman, singed and "toasted."


My opinion said...

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 to become black.

rosanna said...

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 strenghten their hair, but more to "look good", to 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 descriminated against than when i moved to the USA. God Bless. Pascale keep up your job work. I really like your topics