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Attempting to look and act "white" was/is a survival strategy.

While enslaved, many Black women used lye to relax the coil in their hair to appear more like their oppressors. Looking like them gave them more privilege, sometimes bought them favor as a possible mate so they could "breed children" that would have Anglo (white) features and perhaps could assimilate into the white world of privilege.

Anglo (white) men sometimes felt obligated to free or educate these offspring because they looked more like them. Lighter skin made those that called themselves master feel more comfortable with the slaves around the "big house." Hope was pinned on the fair haired and so looking white became a survival strategy.

If you look at it as a survival strategy that was perpetuated by those of African descent it is no wonder that still there are those that strive to be accepted by the American aesthetic by emulating Anglo (white) hair texture. As we grow we have evolved to look at other strategies of survival such as acquiring marketable skills and education to allow us to be competitive. We have reclaimed our entrepreneurial spirit which can allow us to focus on creating a superior product or service rather than the comfort level that others may have with our appearance.

Yet to ignore that our appearance does not have career implications is naive. To be proudly natural is a choice that requires a conscious acceptance that there will be consequences.  Whether we accept those consequences or challenge them is also a choice.

Toni MorrisonWe can move beyond that choice.

There are those who allow that choice to permeate our thoughts which can sometimes be limiting.

For example, one sister with dreadlocks enters a business meeting focused on her presentation to secure a $1 million account. Her focus is on offering the best deal in her industry beyond anything her competitors could muster.

Another sister with dreadlocks enters the room and is unfocused because she noticed that one of the clients looked at her head as if he didn't approve of her dreadlocks.. She takes this perceived disapproval and transfers it to presentation. The client becomes the focus of her presentation. She spends extra time attempting to communicate with him to get his approval or she may just ignore him to put him in check. Either way her attention is not productively focused because of what she perceives is a rejection of her hair.

-- hobdy

This posting is provided to the individual members of the HAIR!!!! discussion forums, without permission from the copyright owner, for purposes of criticism, comment, scholarship and research under the "fair use" provisions of the Federal copyright laws and it may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner, except for "fair use." 


HAIR!!!! Essays:

Marcus Mosiah Garvey [1887-1940]

"Don't remove the kinks
from your
HAIR.

Remove them
from your
BRAIN."

-- The Honorable
Marcus Mosiah Garvey
[1887-1940]

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e-mail: prema139@yahoo.com


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