Black women who choose to wear their hair in its natural state have heard it all, from being accused of fighting against whiteness’ subjugation to just following yet another fashion statement. We’ve been reduced to marginalized pets, with people wanting to touch and feel our tresses, and to stereotypes of radical black women trying to reconnect with our African roots.
The headline of this post actually was said to me by a prominent politician where I live. After making that statement, he actually asked me if I knew who Angela Davis was (I mean, come on. Since I’m the radical black chick you paint me as–of course I know who she is!). Another? A white co-worker actually told me she “couldn’t believe I wear my hair like that” where we live and work.
What got me thinking about these comments again is a post at Womanist Musings, which mussed on a doctored image of First Lady Michelle Obama rocking a kick-ass natural do, which have been circulating the Interwebs.
When I saw this image, I started thinking about what would happen to this country if Michelle Obama decided to don her natural look for the world to see. Part of me believes she should do it for all the little black girls and young black women who may fear the repercussions or backlash they may receive family and friends of going natural. Part of me believes having a first lady rock a natural ‘do will inspire many women to shed the dependence on the endless cycle of relaxers and touch-ups of new growth.
However, the realistic part of me knows whiteness would have a meltdown if Michelle Obama decided to allow her kinky hair to grow naturally out of her scalp. I know the current vilification we’ve seen of Obama would reach new heights as folks like Rush Limbaugh would take the first lady to task for walking out of the house with kinky hair. Already labeled as a radical, angry black woman, that criticism would intensify as reactionary conservative politicians and activists would claim Obama is deflowering the White House with her adherence to black nationalism. Part of me understands that to be black in a prominent position in the good ol’ U.S. of A., one must follow as close as possible the tenants of whiteness and shun any forms of blackness or otherness deemed unacceptable by society.
I can’t fathom a moment in America in which a black woman’s hair will be considered just that–hair. Whiteness has politicized black hair to the point that any black woman wearing natural locks will be labeled as making a conscious political effort to make black nationalism as the primary ideology in the good ol’ U.S. of A. I honestly don’t think whiteness is ready and capable of handling a woman in such a prominent position who refuses to buy into the Eurocentric form of beauty that shuns natural hair as nappy, untamed and something that needs to be controlled.
What do you think? Do you think Michelle Obama could rock a natural hairstyle without an uproar from whiteness?
H/T to Womanist Musings