Thursday, May 31, 2007


Maybe I'm just a little sensitive on this subject. After all, many black women have been through a lot with our hair. We live in a society that has a love affair with women's hair — white women's hair. I watch the commercials and see how white women are praised and gushed over for having long blonde hair and the rest of the women be damned. For black women it has been a virtual nightmare. We will never live up to the "normal" standards of beauty that this country demands. So we have to look inside to find in ourselves the beauty that is truly there even if the greater society doesn't see it.

This has led to many struggles with our hair. We've been burned by hot combs, nearly blinded by lye relaxers, had our necks stretched for 13 hours by African braiders. We've worn weaves, press and curl, Jheri curl, "Dark and Lovely" relaxers, and all manner of chemical enhancements that have left so many literally scarred for life.

This is where dreads come in, or locs, as they are sometimes called. It has taken many years for me to reach a peaceful bond with my hair. I now wear dreads. They are easy to care for and maintain. They look good. My hair is healthy and clean. I can style them many ways and I feel finally free. Hallelujah!

I no longer spend a fortune on my hair. (For many black women it is not unusual to drop $100, $200, $300 and up, to get our hair done! If you want to see a major cause of poverty in the black community look no further than our hair.) My dreads have been a wonderful and even spiritual part of my life. I join the ranks of Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Tracy Chapman in sporting beautiful locs!

So why am I telling you all this today? Because yesterday on The Randi Rhodes Show she decided to go on a rant about her daughter getting her nose pierced and decided to go off about dreads, too. She said, and I quote, "It's because you are lazy and don't want to brush your hair. It's dirty hair."

I was stunned. I still am. I've listened to Randi Rhodes since she's been on the air with Air America and this is the first time that I want to demand an apology. She hurt me deeply, and I think any black person who wears dreads felt insulted. It's not bordering on racist, it is racist. I will continue to listen to her show because on the politics I think that she is right on point. But as for this, it will be hard to forget. We black women have been called a lot of things. We are always mistreated, whether it's the misogynist language in some foolish hip-hop record or some nasty racist calling us "nappy-headed hos". Putting us down is an equal opportunity occupation. It's just harder when it comes from people who are supposed to be on our side.


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