I am black, I am female, and they say I am a problem
You see there is something beautiful about time; its only responsibility is to keep ticking. What happens or doesn’t happen as time moves has nothing to do with the actual time, which has been one of the biggest misconceptions we have as people. We expect things to change or evolve simply because a few years have gone by. When it comes to issues such issues as racism, homosexuality, or rape we expect “time” to deal with it. We say; Oh with time it will all go away.
When one brings up the issue of race, the “why are you stuck in the past” question never goes unsaid. I guess from my side the appropriate answer would be, “because the years have made no difference and it feels like we’re still in the past”. Time is constantly moving but the reality is that the struggles remain the same. If anything these struggles take a different and rather disguised form.
The idea of normalising and beautifying whiteness has really become exhausting to say the least. The distinction is not only made between Caucasian and non-Caucasian, but within the non-Caucasian spectrum whereby light-skinned women are seen more often in your “household” magazines as opposed to the high-fashion spreads where dark-skinned are more prevalent. As great as it may seem, viewing dark-skinned women as exotic and not as being ordinary is counter-productive to the road to liberating our skin colour. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to appreciate the often breath-taking beauty of melanin, but we have to be careful not to recreate the ‘racial colonial that was obsession with black bodies’. Just as my natural hair is not there for everyone to touch and play with, my skin should not turn me into art piece on display (sounds familiar?).
The discussion around African hair is one that cannot afford to go quiet. As much as India Arie may sing about how she’s not her hair, we are politics and hair is political. The very strands on your head may not define you but the general discourse around hair plays a role in your social ambiance. With time, the presence of natural hair has increased even within corporate world but those who choose to wear their hair natural irrespective of gender, are often regarded as the rebellious or rather “revolutionary type”, they carry the “unruly” and “untamed” stigma which was once used to describe African hair itself. Let’s stop saying we are progressive as people but continue to perpetuate the issues we fought so hard against. Subtle does not mean absence, we are a problematic society filled with contradictions and it’s time we actively work towards becoming a changeable society beyond just being vocal.