A couple of days this week, I woke up to emails and Facebook messages from a Tracey Cox, Robert McCready, and full on harassment from Johnathan Bartles telling me I’m a “stupid racist.” About a year or so ago I sent my daughter to school with her curls out. Contrary to the self-hating sisters who commented below the article, curls mean curls in this instance. When I picked my daughter up from school her white teacher took it upon herself to “braid” my daughter’s hair.
Yes. this was a problem, and you can read all about it here.
No, I didn’t and still wouldn’t want a white teacher “doing” my daughters hair. Yes, it still would be an issue for me if the teacher was Black. My daughter’s hair was freshly washed and moisturized. She showed up to school with her hair done just as she did every other day.
The issue here that everyone is missing, partly due to my poor articulation, is that in 2016 Black girls are still being told their hair, and their appearance is substandard by Blacks, Whites, and others. It’s 2016 and Gabby Douglas is a highly-decorated Olympian yet all people can manage to say is she has bad edges and a bad attitude. It’s 2016 and Black girls and their families are still fighting school districts with POLICIES dictating and regulating how a Black child is allowed to wear their hair to school.
No one is telling Susan her is too long and must be worn in a bun, lest she face suspension. No one is telling Tommy he must cover his tattoos and get rid of his eccentric hairstyle lest he cannot walk at graduation. Andrew Jones however, the valedictorian was denied the privilege of walking his own graduation because he wore a beard. Maybe I am a stupid racist, maybe I’m reaching and this particular incident was innocent. There is, without a doubt, an undeniable compulsion from people who are not of color to control, regulate and police the physical appearance of people of color.
At the time, my daughter was about two-years-old, she was the only Black student in the entire daycare. There were no teachers of color at all. At two-years-old, daycare is where children learn and pick up many things from their interactions with their teachers and peers. I am always going to be “that mom” advocating for my daughter’s rights and self-esteem and confidence until she is knowledgeable and strong enough to do so on her own.
At almost 30-years-old, I’m working in a corporate, medical setting and I still hear white women say things like, “That’s your real hair? That’s not typical for you guys to have such long hair, right?”
Ignorance is truly bliss. To sit behind a screen in your home-office trying to berate and intimidate someone based off their personal experience must be nice. Unfortunately, I will not let you police me either. If you don’t like what the world has to offer stay in your gated-communities with limited perceptions of the social paradigms.
I am a Black woman who grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey, and attended Clark Atlanta University in Georgia. I know very well what racism and microaggressions look like.
How would you react if your daughter’s teacher did her hair?