Many of us are fortunate enough to have relatives that can remind us, through first hand accounts, of the horrors of racism in the United States. Sadly enough, although we are growing further and further removed from the days of Jim Crowe and “Separate but Equal” we’d be lying to ourselves to say that the issue of racism is completely resolved in our “United” States of America. As a black woman, I can testify to accounts of racism in my short lifespan of 24 years attrituted to the color of my skin, the dialect of my speech, and yes, even the texture of my hair.
While I’ve grown up seeing a handful of black women become successful, while holding tight to the natural coils of their heritage (Whoppi Goldberg is one example), only recently has it become a movement across the nation for black woman and girls to take a stand against using chemicals to alter the state of their natural hair and proudly display their natural crown.
While my transition to natural hair was short lived (I found it hard to dedicate the time and energy to unravel the needs of my natural texture, and opted out of the big chop. I choose, instead to use a chemical relaxer to straighten my natural texture making it, in my opinion, easier to manage), I give the upmost respecst to my beautify natural sisters who’ve began and stuck to their natural journey (and yes, it really is a journey). In fact, a friend and previous co-worker of mine, Marsha Denise Howard, dedicated her time to construct a website dedicated to the education of black women who have decided to go “natural”. Her website, Savvy Natural You offers a place for these women to gain support from others on the same journey, and form a unique sisterhood sharing best practices, experiences, and even the struggles of their journey.
So, like so many others, I was horrified to open my web browser and see the story of Rhonda Lee. Rhonda, a black meteorologist in Lousiana, has recently lost her job for responding to negative/racist comments made on her companies site addressed to her natural hair.
The most talked about comment read: “
The black lady that does the news is a very nice lady.the only thing is she needs to wear a wig or grow some more hair. im not sure if she is a cancer patient. but still its not something myself that i think looks good on tv. what about letting someone a male have waist long hair do the news.what about that”
Lee responded by stating the following:
“Hello Emmitt–I am the ‘black lady’ to which you are referring. I’m sorry you don’t like my ethnic hair. And no I don’t have cancer. I’m a non-smoking, 5’3, 121 lbs, 25 mile a week running, 37.5 year old woman, and I’m in perfectly healthy physical condition.“I am very proud of my African-American ancestry which includes my hair. For your edification: traditionally our hair doesn’t grow downward. It grows upward. Many Black women use strong straightening agents in order to achieve a more European grade of hair and that is their choice. However in my case I don’t find it necessary. I’m very proud of who I am and the standard of beauty I display. Women come in all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and levels of beauty. Showing little girls that being comfortable in the skin and HAIR God gave me is my contribution to society. Little girls (and boys for that matter) need to see that what you look like isn’t a reason to not achieve their goals. Conforming to one standard isn’t what being American is about and I hope you can embrace that. Thank you for your comment and have a great weekend and thank for watching.”
While Lee’s company holds strong that Lee was not fired for her comment, but rather for responding at all to the criticism that those in the public eye inevitably receive regardless of hair or race, many are still outraged by this, and petitions have been formed demanding Lee’s rehire.
If nothing else, this fiasco has opened the flood gates for debates about a woman’s right to choose to flaunt her natural locks, rather than confirm to an European image by altering the texture of their hair through the use of chemicals, weaves, heat, etc. Please leave your thoughts on this matter, your opinion (whatever it may be) is appreciated and may help parties on either side of this debate become more educated.
View more on Rhonda Lee’s story here: http://goo.gl/AKsfN
As always, thank you for reading and be blessed.
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