Coil Conversations: The Many Layers of Opinions on Black Women's Hair

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was watching the 2015 Oscars and keeping up with the red carpet and marveled at Zendaya as she strutted down in front of the many paparazzi. It wasn’t what she was wearing that caught my attention, it was her hairstyle. Zendaya wore her hair in dreadlocks that year, a hairstyle not many people would have tried at an award show like Oscars. Zendaya has always been known to try out new looks, and you could always expect her to show up and show out so you can imagine how much love she received from thousands of her fans and others on different social media platforms.

Of course with praise comes your fair share of the judgment. Enter E! News anchor Giuliana Rancic. She made a comment about Zendaya's hair stating that Zendaya looks like she may smell of patchouli oil or “weed.” For those who may not understand the underlying meaning, Giuliana was basically equating Zendaya's choice of dreadlock hairstyle to that of a consistent drug user. There was swift clap backs from all parts of the internet, which culminated with Giuliana stepping out of the spotlight for a bit. Even though there were consequences, it doesn't negate the fact that many people had exactly the same thought.  

Now Fast-forward to 2016, when dreads became another popular topic but this time in the workplace. It became legal to ban dreadlocks in the workplace. Many black Americans spend years growing out their dreads for a plethora of religious or personal reasons. So now you are telling me I am not good enough? Is it just a problem with dreads or the people who wear them? People, who look like us?

Amandla Stenberg did a school project that went viral named “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows.” She schooled everyone on the culture behind black hair and explained how many of the recent “hair trends” are only acceptable when showcased on someone who does not look like us #boderekbraids. She ended the video with the unforgettable phrase, “What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we loved black culture.” Something I haven't been able to stop thinking about to this day.

While we can talk about the many issues we face when it comes to how others appropriate black style and then cast judgement, this kind of discrimination also comes from within. Many black men love to flock to social media and talk about  women who wear weave and wigs claiming that we should “love ourselves” and how much they love the “natural look.” That is until the natural look involves 4c hair and an actual fro and not the always soft and silky curls that trail down your back. Rapper French Montana talked about a woman coming out of a pool and her hair being “nappy.” Obviously French, when our hair gets wet it takes all shapes and sizes but that doesn't mean it needs the negative undertones that come when you describe it as "nappy." Being a black woman that relaxes her hair, I don’t face many discriminationatory comments because my hair is always chemically straight. However, as a black woman who loves all of my sisters and whatever way they choose to rock their crown, I stand in solidarity and will continue to speak out against this negative rhetoric 

How do you feel about black women and hair discrimination? Have you ever been discriminated against because of your hair?

Peace and Blessings,

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