Cornrows and Curls: Untangling the Politics of Hair

August 26, 2015 — 99 Comments

beautiful-young-woman-screaming

 

I’ve spent a large portion of my life waging war against my hair.

It’s a nightmare. My hair is curly and frizzy. Not loose lustrous curls –  small, tightly coiled kinky curls.

I grew up being told I had “Black hair.” It was not meant in a pejorative way. I was a white girl in a black housing project. It was just a way to characterize the texture of my hair. Black people told me it was “nappy.”

White people made fun of me and called me “Nigger knots.”

 

When I was a little girl, every morning was devoted to the taming of this fuzzy tangled mess. For one hour, I stood at the sink, my legs cramping, holding back tears as the the heavy brush banged against my head.

My mother slathered my curls in Dax, and Ultra Sheen, relentlessly pulling and stretching my hair into submission. Finally she would wind it into two long, waxy pigtails

I longed for bone-straight, parted in the middle, 70’s hair. Laurie Partridge hair. My mother was less concerned with the Partridge Family and more concerned that I not run around with a wild mass of frizz jutting out of my head.

By the time I was 8, she was straightening my hair with chemical relaxers. They were foul-smelling products which stung my eyes and nasal passages. The lye dripped onto my neck and burnt my tender skin.

In between chemical processing there were searing hot metal combs used to press and flatten my hair into surrender. They straightened my hair, and burnt it  – as well as accidentally burning my ears and scalp too many times to count.

Curly hair is labor-intensive. I didn’t have the time or patience to wear my hair curly every day. When I got older, I no longer had to suffer drugstore lye and scalp burns. I went to black hair salons in Bedford Stuyvesant, where they knew how to deal with my hair.

Today, I still relax my hair. I use organic keratin and go to white people salons in the suburbs.

 

 

 

When I was a girl, to keep my hair neat during the summer while giving it a break from harsh chemicals, I got my hair done up in braids. Cornrows. This is a habit that has stayed with me, on and off, into adulthood.

I recently found out that these days, if I braid my hair? I am “appropriating a culture.”

Evidently, African Americans are tired of white people adopting black culture – music, hair, style of dress, speech – and neglecting to raise awareness for black issues. It’s not right to take the fun, hip part of being black and leave the bad parts behind. That’s considered “racial appropriation.”

I REJECT THIS.

If white people dress, make music and wear our hair to emulate African Americans, are we not paying homage to them? When did it become offensive to celebrate the aspects of a culture?

Kylie Jenner started a shade war when she posted a picture on Instagram in corn rows and low slung sweats. The disingenuous caption to the photo was “I woke up like disss.”

Is Kylie Jenner an asshole? Absolutely. But not for her cultural misappropriation. She’s an asshole because she was born into a family of assholes who make their livings being assholes.

Amandla Stenberg, the 16-year-old actress from The Hunger Games, decided to call her out by commenting on the photo:

“when u appropriate black features and culture but fail to use ur position of power to help black Americans by directing attention towards ur wigs instead of police brutality or racism #whitegirlsdoitbetter “

I REJECT THIS.

I reject the idea that in order to embrace and celebrate black culture, people are obligated to direct attention towards police brutality and racism. And how does it help anything to publicly chastise Kylie Jenner in front of millions, to humiliate her in an attempt to expose her as racist? It doesn’t.

IT JUST DEEPENS THE DIVIDE.

 

Cultural appropriation allegedly occurs when ignorant white people pick and choose what part of the black experience to adopt into their lives, while simultaneously invalidating the challenges faced by black women who will never have access to white privilege.

We partake of a culture for fashion, all the while purposely disinterested in the adversity faced by that culture.

I REJECT THIS.

I resent the gross generalization that because I am white and choose to braid my hair, that I am unaware of race issues. To declare that by borrowing from a culture, we are, by definition, ignorant of that culture’s historical struggles, is ludicrous. That kind of stock characterization of white philistinism propagates racism and distrust. It invites ridicule; in essence, it’s wearing “white face.”

 

According to the black community, the history connected to these styles, the context in which they were created, is essential to wearing them. These styles are the contemporary remnants of slavery. A white person who wears these styles cares nothing for that context and turns black hair styles into travesty, empty fashion, mocking the black race.

In fact, by wearing these styles white people are systematically breaking down the rich history of black culture, and continuing to exploit the black race just as slavery and segregation did.

I REJECT THIS.

I am TIRED of being blamed for past generations’ idiocy. If, by association, I am guilty of the crimes of a system by being part of the system, then we are all guilty. Which renders the concept of guilt meaningless.

Stop blaming me for oppression and hate I had nothing to do with.

I just want to get my braids done.

 

I am sadly aware that African-American women have been made to alter their appearances to maintain their jobs and their respectability. Many have been forced to give up natural black hair styles in what can only be described as an attempt to force them to adopt a “whiter” look.

This is heinous.

But now, if I put my hair in cornrows, I am accused of using my “white privilege” to exploit black culture’s historical symbols to satisfy my shallow need for self-expression.

I REJECT THIS.

I should be free to wear my hair however I choose. I cannot change what has happened in the past. I can only fight for a better future. I know that even today, black skin still acts as a mark of negative difference. On many fronts, black America is in crisis.

But restricting MY personal freedom is not going to address racism and economic injustice. Cultural appropriation is just another way to create discord between races.

Am I only allowed to adopt the hairstyles or music genres, of my ancestors? If I am allowed beyond my own heritage, who draws the line, and where is it drawn? Can I enjoy the films of Spike Lee? The music of Miles Davis?

Culture is not black and white. Like many things, it lives in the gray area. It’s borrowed, repurposed, and reformed over and over again. Exchange of culture creates empathy, and tolerance. It’s what makes up the richly woven tapestry of our lives.

I refuse to view my enjoyment of other cultures through the lens of appropriation. If that makes me part of the problem – then so be it. Fling your accusations at me because of my white girl braids.

I’ll be over here, celebrating the beauty of cultural exchange by dancing through life to the music of cultures from all over the world.

Should white people wear cornrows? How do you feel about cultural appropriation?
Does that include doing yoga? Talk to me. I’m listening.

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99 responses to Cornrows and Curls: Untangling the Politics of Hair

  1. 

    This is brilliant. I am sharing it everywhere. xo

  2. 

    I’ve seen all this said about dreadlocks as well. I think there’s some line drawn for me, like, It’s Just Hair. I’m so not caring about other people’s hairs lol!
    Inevitably, after admiring little black girl hairdos, all three of my daughters have come home from school and asked me to put five braided ponytails in their hair, with clips and stuff. Because of serious opinions and people who take offense, I never did. I never wanted to put that on my kids. But it’s just hair. Why isn’t it flattering, either aesthetically, or out of a sense of practicality? Can’t they just be cute how they wanna be cute? I think it’s somehow brave of you, but then think how twisted it is to say you’re brave to wear your hair. Is hair political? It’s.Just.Hair.
    You are not the only woman dealing with this. I’ve got plenty of friends in your camp. I’m only 3A and totally fuzzy, but I feel ya on the crisis that is your hair. I had cornrows in the first grade and it was NOT flattering. Joey needs a lil height on her round head 😉
    Great post, as usual, m’dear!

    • 

      Yes, can’t hair just be HAIR? does everything have to be a platform, a reason to fight, a reason to hold grudges and push races further apart?

      Thanks for reading, 3A! xoxox

  3. 

    That cultural divide is highly likely to disrupt our normally very peaceful and joyful state fair this weekend on the very same day when my son will be performing for the first time in the marching band. I am sick of it.

    On a lighter note, I love your hair and your very perfect back that it drapes over.

  4. 

    I’m sorry…
    All I saw/heard was curly redhead and the rest of the words and their intent were lost on me.
    😉
    Brilliant and bold writing, as usual, my friend. Love you!

  5. 

    This. This right here, I totally agree with. I also read something I’d like to share that I think goes with this. They are the words of model Winnie Harlow in response to fans using makeup to achieve her natural look. Here:

    My response to this is probably not what a lot of people want but here it goes: every time someone wants fuller lips, or a bigger bum, or curly hair, or braids does Not mean our culture is being stolen. Have you ever stop to realize these things used to be ridiculed and now they’re loved and lusted over. No one wants to “steal” our look here. We’ve just stood so confidently in our own nappy hair and du-rags and big asses (or in this case, my skin) that now those who don’t have it love and lust after it. Just because a black girl wears blue contacts and long weave doesn’t mean she wants to be white and just because a white girl wears braids and gets lip injection doesn’t mean she wants to be black. The amount of mixed races in this world is living proof that we don’t want to be each other we’ve just gained a national love for each other. Why can’t we embrace that feeling of love? Why do we have to make it a hate crime? In a time when so much negative is happening, please don’t accuse those who are showing love and appreciation, of being hateful. It is very clear to me when someone is showing love and I appreciate these people recreating, loving and broadcasting something to the world that once upon a time I cried myself to sleep over #1LOVE

    • 

      I agree. While there are some African American women who straighten their hair due to societal pressures, aren’t some doing it for purely aesthetic or practical reasons?

      I have “black” hair. I was not aware of any cultural pressure. I just straightened it to make it easier to care for. Yes, I’m white – but is it not possible that a black woman might feel this way?

      Thank you for reading, and commenting.

  6. 
    barbaramullenix August 26, 2015 at 10:48 am

    Are all of you too young to remember the 1979 movie “10” with Bo Derek? (Look up pictures). She made corn rows a “thing” for white girls. For years after, if you went on vacation to anywhere in the Caribbean, there were women on the beaches offering to do your “white hair” into corn rows (for a crap load of money). It was always a fashion statement – never political.

  7. 

    I was 10 when Bo Derek was sporting her cornrows, and I thought they were the perfect answer to my straight, thin hair with which I could normally do nothing. I had no idea your hair was that much trouble or that hair in general could be so political. I’ve always wanted curls. I’d be the clueless one accused of appropriating something and not realizing it.

    I guess I’m with djmatticus on this one, I heard “red curly hair” and was immediately distracted, but in my case it was with jealousy. Sigh.

    • 

      Aww, thank you! but if you saw what my red “curls” looked like, you wouldn’t be distracted with jealousy. That pregnancy picture is super flattering, and not anything like what my hair normally looked like. It’s awful. I have a few pictures of it.
      There’s no way I’m posting those. Eww.

  8. 

    I just did a little reading on this (and watched Amandla’s video about appropriation)…and here’s the thing that really gets under my skin. It shouldn’t be “this music is owned by black people” or “this look is owned by white people” or “this dance style is owned by whatever other people you want to break down into race, color, sexuality, etc.”

    People should be free to dress, dance, eat, listen to, speak however they want as long as it’s not pointedly offensive. If a white person were to speak about a black person taking their hairstyle or clothing style and “trying to be white,” that would be considered racist. Why is it not the same the other way around?

    I hope that rant makes sense.

    • 

      Your rant is not a rant. It’s an intelligent comment.

      And she’s quite the little brainwashed puppet of a 16 year old, isn’t she? She needs time to formulate her own opinions. I hope someday she doesn’t look back on that video and cringe because it was something that was indoctrinated in her before she could understand the meaning of what she was saying.

  9. 

    Holyfuck! I am smiling from ear to ear because you made history and your story and politics and culture SING for me. It was like a maelstrom war-dance which REJECTS all the bullshit ways people (races/whatever other cultural divide gets used) generate dissonance and engender separatism, and ended in a beautiful campfire, gathered celebration of love and all people being together and FOR one another, where we can be.

    I love it, I love it, I love it. I know that we don’t have the same strength of feeling here, on the whole, but it MATTERS.

    THIS MATTERS.

    And I wish more people thought like you do.

  10. 

    I just have a few questions – do I need to call out police brutality and racism every time I get cornrows, or just once when I choose to change the hairstyle to it? Should I be complaining about police brutality throughout the entire 7 hours my hair is being pulled and tugged? If my natural hair shape used to be an afro, do I owe any kind of reparations, and how much? It seems clear that I’m culturally appropriating when I listen to black singers, but am I also supposed to learn about slavery when I listen to white artists who were largely influenced by black musical styles like blues and jazz (which would be pretty much every white pop & rock musician after 1955), or are these white musicians responsible for learning about that themselves? If I had called out racism and police brutality in my jokes, does that count as calling out racism and police brutality, or is this still cultural appropriation and I need to call out racism and police brutality once again as a condition of making jokes about racism and police brutality?
    This is all very confusing.

  11. 

    I have trouble sometimes because I don’t generalize. I know many people do and I think it is sad. Not everything is a fight or a battle. Hair is not a battle. Brutality is. Ignorance is. Keeping the issues to their core problems is key.

    The first step in fighting injustice is to uncover the injustice and to convince those that can do something about it that it is indeed an injustice. The second is resolving it in a way that benefits humanity. So simple yet fear and ignorance makes it all so complicated. Hate warps perspective no matter the races involved.

    Picking on someone’s hairstyle (whatever the race) is absurd and is just another form of bullying. It’s the ‘ol let’s find a reason to tear this or that person down.

    • 

      Ohhh, You say the most beautiful things.

      Yes, hate warps perspective. Thank you for that.
      Hair is NOT a battle. Or at least, it shouldn’t be.
      I worry for our kids, growing up in this mess.

  12. 

    ” If, by association, I am guilty of the crimes of a system by being part of the system, then we are all guilty. Which renders the concept of guilt meaningless.”

    ^^^ I want to lick your brain.

  13. 

    All of this! My comment would only reiterates what most people have already said. Except, I want to say, I am in love with your brain.

    I am so glad you wrote this, no one could have written it better.

    • 

      Thank you for always reading,a nd for saying the things you do. I sometimes feel like no one is reading, and no one cares.
      But you always read, and you always care. xoxo

  14. 

    I love this. I’ve been wanting to write on this for a long time. I feel so uncomfortable with the idea of cultural appropriation. There are times where I feel the argument is valid, but hair is one of the ones that I don’t. And I AM black. I “pass” as white, but I am a mixed girl who grew up with a black dad and black family members, and had my hair done in cornrows when I worked at summer camp to stop from having to deal with it every day.

    I completely agree that being so adamant about appropriation in some of these cases is ridiculous and makes me feel erasure as a person. From having already had to deal with being accused of not being “black enough” by white and black people alike and then to be told I’m “appropriating” culture because I look too white to have the right to cornrow my hair makes me extremely upset. I really, really appreciate what you’ve written here.

    I’ve been rejected by black people all my life, because I don’t “belong” with them. I still care deeply about the issues that affect them. I will also stand up for the right for you (and me) to do our hair however we please.

    • 

      this made my heart hurt.

      My first thought is, is that what will happen if my son falls in love with an African American woman, and they have a family? Will his bi-racial children suffer? Are mixed children still being made to feel they don’t belong?

      I pray that by the time he is a man these issues have resolved. Because he is being raised to be colorblind and I hope he chooses someone he loves, and doesn’t care what color they are. I wasn’t brave enough to stay with someone I loved deeply, or any man of color. Because of exactly this. I was a coward. I did a spoken word poem about it. It’s on my blog. “White Girl.”

      Honestly, my heart hurts for you and for being rejected by anyone. By everyone, it sounds like. Have you written about this??

  15. 

    I find it interesting that someone could get outraged over a hairstyle. I mean, is it really hair? Or is someone willing to press charges because they find braids offensive?
    I think there are probably bigger things that can keep people up at night.
    If an offensive act is performed without a mean spirit, maybe the best path is forgiveness. Just saying.

    • 

      Yes, there are SO many bigger issues for us to be worried about. If we want to get upset over race, let’s worry about the literacy rate among African American children. And forget about my goddamn hair!

      Thank you for reading, and commenting!

  16. 

    I agree with everything you have to say on this subject, Samara. I’ve been struggling with a “cultural appropriation” article of my own for weeks. I haven’t been able to articulate it yet in a way that works for me. But it revolves around these thoughts of yours:

    “Cultural appropriation is just another way to create discord between races.”

    “[Culture is] borrowed, repurposed, and reformed over and over again. Exchange of culture creates empathy, and tolerance. It’s what makes up the richly woven tapestry of our lives.”

    “I’ll be over here, celebrating my gratitude for the beauty of cultural exchange by dancing through life to the music of cultures from all over the world.”

    I’m very happy you wrote this and I hope everybody reads it. I admire your boldness. It’s refreshing.

    • 

      Thank you for being so supportive. To tell you the truth, it was one of the few times I’ve been nervous about publishing. It’s scary to be white and stand up and tell people, “I’m not responsible for centuries of oppression, just let me get my braids!”

      I hope you do write your story. There can’t be too many posts about this, as far as I’m concerned.

  17. 

    Wait…you’re white?

  18. 

    So now I know why I’ve never seen cornrows on a vagina. Thanks!

  19. 

    This was a huge thing in prison. If you’re not black, you can’t have more than two braids. Period, point blank.

    To me, culture is like philosophy/faith/ideas/everything-else– you only get to keep it by giving it all away. We should be happy to share everything about our cultures, consider it a gift if we have to think of it as “mine” to “yours” at all. I hope you enjoy yoga… and I’m glad I share blood with people-of-the-land-who-birthed-it, just as glad as I am that people-of-the-land-who-birthed-me enjoy it, too. ❤ Beautiful post, as always, chica.

    • 

      I love this comment.
      Yes, culture is meant to be shared. I’m not sure what is making people feel that it is yet another thing to fight over – fear, I suppose?

      The 2-braid limit in jail is awful. It sounds like trouble waiting to happen.

  20. 

    awesome post! I agree whole heartedly. the more we swap looks, the less it becomes an issue… and idiots who do it and make a statement like K did, are just idiots. the world is full of them. I too have the kinky curly hair, and straighten it every day now. did the curly look for 20 years and hated it too. but I think the real problems are there are just plain stupid racists out there, who tend to ignore the fact that we all have black in us, all 6 billion of us, as we all came from one woman who lived in Africa 10,000 years ago… and you can either believe the science… or ignore it and be an ignoramus!!! on a side note, I truly think gradeschools should be teaching the simple facts about color of skin, being determined by how much vitamin D we need to absorb! If they did that, the children would learn early on that there is NO fng difference between humans of different color! they need to “Embrace the Rainbow”!!! lmao

    • 

      embrace the rainbow! I love it!

      yes, I just like my hair better straight – mostly because of the ease with which I can fix it. Wake up, brush, and leave! It’s one minute, versus over an hour. I don’t have time to groom curly hair – and my curls require extensive grooming. And even if I HAD the time, there are a million other things I want to use that hour plus for.

      Embrace the Rainbow!!

  21. 

    This is fantastic. I cannot tell you how much it irks me that people actually tag you as a thief – you are not stealing someone else’s work or masquerading as someone you’re not (thanks, NAACP-wannabe!). I spent my early childhood being hair-shamed. By my own mother! (See the Dra-MOM-ic Afro Threat post on my blog).
    Besides the point – I get people who make poopie-faces at me for the stud in my nose. They crinkle their noses up when they ask me why I would do that if I’m white and I sincerely say it’s because I always thought Hindu women were beautiful with their bindis and pierce noses. I spent half the summer with the right side of my head braided in cornrows.
    I too reject all the criticism of people who apparently don’t like to share.

    • 

      Let people be people. And yes, some styles are more traditionally associated with certain cultures. Can we not just admire them, without be chastised? I know a lot of black women felt that had to straighten their hair to look white, and that’s fucked up.

      Is it possible that maybe a black woman just likes the look and feel of straight hair, that she hasn’t been brainwashed, and she’s not rejecting her own culture – but just wants straight hair? I did, and I wasn’t rejecting my culture or feeling ashamed of it. I just DIDN’T LIKE MY HAIR.
      Not everything is political. Live and let live. Rock on with your bad self!
      (I’m sure I would get it for that, too. trying to sound like that)

  22. 

    I was one of the white girls who got cornrows after seeing Bo Derek in 10. I grew up in a blindingly white rural town and the few black people I had seen were not in cornrows. I didn’t even know it was considered a black hairstyle until I was an adult and moved to Houston. Would I get cornrows again? Probably not – but not because I’m afraid of offending someone – I’m just not into hours of physical discomfort anymore. I also find it sad when black women are criticized when they choose to lighten their hair, straighten it, or get extensions. I’ve personally heard women (in this case, it was other black women) complain that the other girl was “trying to be white” and why couldn’t she be proud of and happy with her natural hair. I think it’s wonderful for everyone to strive to be happy with the hair (or features, or body, or whatever) that God gave them – but if someone wants to mix it up or feels more confident altering their appearance, more power to them!

    • 

      Exactly. Does everything have to be a political statement? Can’t hair just be hair?

      And yes. Braids are hours of discomfort. I’m almost happy I gave into the pressure and didn’t get them.

  23. 

    I’m a black guy, but about as culturally white as a black guy can get (long story). So I am pretty objective about this stuff. White people wearing corn braids, listening to gangsta rap, or engaging in any other allegedly “black” cultural phenomenon is a positive thing. It’s a sign that “black culture” has reached beyond its status as something only done by the marginalized sub-class and has actually influenced the dominant culture to the point where it is no longer seen as unacceptable. That’s a good thing.

    As for your choice of hair appropriating “black culture”? Hmmm. I am a Canadian who has known more African black people than “African American” black people. I find what many U.S. Blacks consider to be relics of their culture a little foreign. Most Somalians would find US blacks’ ideas of black culture really odd, as would a Nigerian or Senegalese.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is I don’t believe there’s one thing anyone could call “black culture” and then tar a white person for stealing it or diminishing it. In the U.S. there are historical elements of slavery and racism that bind African Americans together in something shared. That’s not in dispute. But corn braids as somehow emblematic of that history? I wonder.
    I say, get thee to the hair salon!

    • 

      You’re black? Since when? hahaha

      Thank you for reading, and commenting, and understanding. I think it’s a good thing that I appreciate certain aspects of other cultures, too. I see this whole argument as just another way to create a racial divide. It’s almost misplaced anger. What blacks are really pissed off about is how they’ve been treated. So they’re gonna get pissed off now, if we like rap and corn rows.

      It’s all very confusing.

  24. 

    damn u r a damn good writer.
    i love hip hope culture. I love the music. 90s is my favorite hip hope genration bc of the story tellin’. I used to blog bout it but ..I don’t anymore bc of eveything u wrote.

    • 

      I love 90’s hip hop, too. I love the whole evolution of the culture. It speaks to me.

      I watched Fresh Dressed, a documentary about the evolution of rap and hip hop and fashion with my kid.

      I want to enjoy it with my kid, and celebrate the beauty and the wisdom of the music. I can’t help what the rest of my race does. Can’t we take this on a case by case basis? Like, if you’re a racist asshole then you can’t enjoy hip hop. But if you’re cool, you can?

      Thanks for reading, Laurie,

  25. 

    In Puerto Rico, there was something called the Dubi Dubi. You bobby pinned your hair around your scalp and wore a bandana over it to bed so that in the morning you woke up with straight hair! I did it every night! Of course, my scalp hurt from changing up my part and making it go different directions. All I can say is, thank God for straighteners! xo

    • 

      I wrapped my hair all through my childhood into teenhood. The moms in my neighborhood taught me how.

      I just this second thought of something. I NEVER would have known what to do with my hair if I grew up in a white neighborhood.

      I think I just found one of the only good things about growing up in the projects. Ha!

      As I wrote, I use keratin now. Twice a year. What do you use?

  26. 

    I like the way you got your point across. My children are mixed(white,black,peurto rican) so they have a mix of hair as well. My oldest is 22 and she talks about this alot, the not fitting in one way or another and her not really caring. That child insisted on chemicals in her hair from the moment she learned of it. We fought against it not wanting to damage her hair but in the end she got what she wanted. Now she wears her hair natural sometimes she adds extensions to make it longer and fuller but it is always the natural look of her curls. She gets so annoyed when strangers want to touch her hair. She said Mom does anyone touch your white people hair. I tell her no mine is boring yours is exciting enjoy it and tell people no you cant touch it you trying to mess up my hair. But she rolls her eyes and tells me I am corny. None the less Your wording is perfect and I have am glad to share this as there are lots of people who could benefit from your perspective.

    • 

      I don’t know why people always wanted to touch my curls, but they did. Maybe it’s because they have such a strange texture, not like typical white people hair? My pregnancy was the only time my curls took on a smooth bouncy texture.

      But. I kinda like the crazy way my curls look. I wish my natural hair didn’t take over an hour to style. I absolutely must start with a soaking wet head, not even just damp. My hair looks terrible after being slept on.

      I’m so glad your daughter doesn’t care about all the bullshit.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I hope you visit some more!

  27. 

    Yes! I love this! I couldn’t agree with you more!
    It reminded me of a time at least 10 years ago when I went into a “black” salon to get my hair braided simply because I liked the look. I stood there for at least 15 minutes, and nobody paid any attention to me or asked if they could help me. I eventually gave up and left feeling very unwelcome and surprised the rudeness of the patrons and staff of the salon.

    • 

      I never had that experience, thank goodness. I guess I just got lucky?
      I was always the only white girl in the black hair salons, but they took one look at my hair and knew that I needed their expertise. White hair stylists had no idea what to do with me hahaha

  28. 

    This is such an excellent post I want to print it out and stick it on my fridge. It’s a really delicate subject and its tricky to negotiate, but I think you’re exactly right that the conversation at this point is veering towards widening divides rather than eradicating them. I know that it’s considered dismissive of minorities’ struggles to talk about being ‘colour blind’ and I get that it’s not as simple as that, but at the same time I can’t help but feel that’s the ideal we want to be working towards.

  29. 

    The wind should blow equally through ever ons hair, whatever it’s style

    • 

      Agreed!
      Long time no see, sir!
      How are you? Getting a lot of wind through your hair on your bike?

      • 

        Hell yes! Whenever and wherever possible! (As in cycling) 5.5k of miles of wind so far.
        I have passed by here, unnoticed, though :-). Dropping the odd reflection. Smoke on the water.
        How are the fingers by the way?

  30. 

    You looked awesome with Little Dude along for the ride, Samara! Kind of the Ani DiFranco air about you, I’d say, and that’s a great thing in my book.

    Keep doing your stuff your way. People saying this is mine and that is yours and we can’t share it because … well, enough, I agree. All of the arguments have anger at the root, sure, but ignorance, too. As in: There’s no possible way You on Your Side can open your mind and heart to feel and deal with what happened to and is happening to Us on Our Side. But there has to be Just Us, or we’re in too deep to ever climb out.

  31. 

    Happy Birthday, young lady!
    That is all.

  32. 

    Came over from Mark’s blog – Amazing post!!!! I am cursed with curly red hair. My friends used to get all those really cool haircuts in the 70s, the ones that required super straight hair – I was so jealous. My hair make me look like I just got up, or clambered out of a jungle. Of course, everyone with straight hair loves my hair – I say, Here take it, deal with it, I am fed up. As I grow older I have accepted this crazy hair, it’s part of me, kind of whimsical, kind of a mess. Now it has gone this weird blond and so I look like the lead singer off of Twisted Sister. Oh well. Rock on, I say!!!!!

  33. 

    Oh, I don’t know how I missed your post, Samara. This is a good one! If anything wearing cornrows should be seen as celebratory gesture. Everything has to be torn apart all the time.

    I understand it’s your birthday. So, Happy Birthday!!! Have a wonderful, kickass day doing whatever you want. xox

  34. 

    This is, seriously, THE single best comment piece about the cultural misappropriation of cultural misappropriation.

    And I only came to wish you a Happy Birthday. 🙂

    I’ll probably stay a while… especially if there will be cake later… 😉

  35. 

    Interesting post! I too want to do whatever I want, so if I want to wear something that has a reference to any other culture than “mine”, I will just do it. It’s never meant in a disrespectful way.
    You can’t go on talking and talking about the problems of a certain ethnicity while wearing something that’s borrowed from them. Maybe it’s better to keep everyday clothes and hairstyles and everything separated from politics? There’s no point in staying in your “own culture”, because that would make the misunderstanding even worse. Also, if you want to go this way, then you could also state that not-white people shouldn’t be wearing clocks because apparently a German guy invented them.
    So… I agree with you.

    • 

      Yes, it makes no sense. If I wear my hair in cornrows, I have to discuss the politics of African American oppression? How am I going to work that into every conversation I have while my hair is in braids?

      Sometimes, hair is just hair. Thanks for taking the time to read, and comment. xoxoxo

  36. 

    hey, happy belated birthday! (found you via exile on pain street and rarasura) as a fillipino/puerto rican married to a creole, i totally get the hair thing. i also know that for our 4 kids (all grown now) it was always “it’s just hair, do as you want” it WILL grow out. all that to say, this whole idea of “cultural appropriation” is beyond me. we’ve lived in quite a few places around the world and it never ceases to amaze me how limited we americans are. keep on truckin’, sweetpea, you aren’t alone. xoxoxo

    • 

      Hey there!

      I just saw this comment today, and I’m too OCD not to respond.

      Thanks for visiting, and commenting! I will definitely keep on trucking!! xo

  37. 

    Should white people wear cornrows? Yes, if they want to.

    How do you feel about cultural appropriation? We live in a “melting pot” in America. This means all cultures mix together. To worry about this is un-american.

    Does that include doing yoga? Yoga all you want… it’s a free country.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. White Girl In a Black World « A Buick in the Land of Lexus - July 13, 2016

    […] I’m going to get CRUCIFIED for saying that, because of my white privelege. How DARE I appreciate the positive aspects of a culture without suffering from oppression? If I talk about my love for rap music, dark-skinned men, soul food, cornrow braids – I’m appropriating a culture. […]

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