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Friday, May 18, 2007

Good or Bad Hair

When Imus spouted off about Jigaboos vs. Wannabees in his infamous diatribe last month, he was most likely referencing this fantasy scene from Spike Lee's movie, School Daze (one wonders whether the man actually watched the film). This song-and-dance scene served as a metaphor of the tension between two groups of women attending a fictional black college - one group light-skinned with straightened or weaved hair and the other group dark-skinned with natural styles. Instead of appreciating the beauty in the other, the women allowed their differences to divide them, succumbing to the venal colorism that arose out of slavery days.

Although the movie received mixed reviews, one can appreciate Lee's putting the truth out there. Many castigated him for airing our "dirty laundry" as though no one knew before the movie that blacks straightened their hair or wore weaves or that some wished they were lighter skinned. And if you think this situation has improved in the twenty years since the movie was released, just check some of the comments for the video. There's some pain still going on there, as shown by the comment of one woman recounting trying to straighten her hair and lighten her skin with bleach to fit in with her lighter tormenting peers. We're not that far removed in time from the black elite clubs who once offered entrance to those who could pass the "paper bag" test, where the skin color of the applicant had to be lighter than that of a paper bag before they were allowed into the club. Which only goes to prove that a hierarchical society will always find something by which to define and divide, even to its detriment.

Update: Unfortunately, a woman can be intelligent and accomplished, but obviously she's not worth more than her hair as Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell recently found out. Read I'll Keep My Nappy Hair, Thank You.

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Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 5/18/2007 07:09:00 PM Permanent Link     | | Home


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