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by Maria Lloyd
It appears as if some African-American women are still struggling with self-esteem and self-identity issues regarding the unique genetic make-up of African-American hair. Although she’d made African-American history, 16-year-old Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas was largely criticized by African-American women in 2012 about the unkempt appearance of her hair. This year Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s one-year-old toddler Blue Ivy Carter is the source of criticism about her unkempt hair. I can’t help but wonder if Harriet Tubman’s unkempt hair was a distraction for many female slaves who would’ve otherwise followed her to freedom in the North centuries ago.
Despite a nationwide debate over whether or not Koreans intentionally block African-American business owners out of the hair weave industry, African-American women continue to flock to their stores and purchase their products without any regard of understanding the discrimination they’re supporting against their own people. Black women’s obsession with hair is widely driven by mainstream media and most of them haven’t allowed the depth of their thinking to expand beyond the images being flashed upon them, failing to realize they are subconsciously being brainwashed, alongside Black men, to believe that their natural skin color and hair patterns are unflattering, unkempt, and untamed. Even Beyoncé has become completely “whitewashed” over the years, with her hair color becoming more blonde and her face becoming lighter with each magazine cover she graces.
The battle with hair seems to be affecting our most affluent Black women, as earlier this year an event titled “Black Women, Their Hair & The Work Place – A Dialogue,” was organized at Georgia State University to provide strategic advice from business professionals on how African-American women can transform their hair for the workplace. It will not be until African-American women as whole take a collective stand to grow confidence in their natural and diverse appearances that others will begin to respect and accept all of us for who we are.
Maria Lloyd (@WritingsByMaria) is the Business Manager for the Your Black World Network. She is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University and an advocate of dismantling the prison industrial complex, increasing entrepreneurship, reforming education, and eradicating poverty.