Friday, August 28, 2009

The White Media Sure Loves To Promote Black Woman Angst Don't They?

If I have to read another tired article about how black women have such a hard time with:

a) Our hair
b) Our dating prospects
c) Our bodies

I WILL SCREAM!
“If your hair is relaxed, white people are relaxed,” the comedian Paul Mooney, sporting an Afro, says in the documentary “Good Hair,” which won a jury prize at the Sundance film festival and comes out in October. “If your hair is nappy, they’re not happy.”
Le sigh. There is no political related ideology in wearing our hair with or without chemical processing. It's a personal choice! This is why I am wary of having black men try to deconstruct issues that pertain specifically to black women. Or give dating advice when they themselves haven't had successful relationships. I mean I don't see any movies helmed by us about how their anatomy has been erroneously touted as a means of boosting their insecurities. It would be considered insulting, yet here we are having other people tell us what our "issues" are.

Ladies you shouldn't fall for it. Despite some of the serious issues we discuss here and across the blogosphere these discussions initiated in outlets like the New York Times don't necessarily have our best interests at heart. Considering how the majority of the staff - especially upper management is 99.99999% white and male - I have a hard time believing the our stories are of such interest. What has happened is a heightened combination of curiosity and contempt from numerous quarters since Michelle Obama became First Lady that serves as a catalyst for this.

Now one agenda is to do coverage that serves as the back-handed compliment and the white editors make certain to hire a writer with some black heritage to pen it. In other words to deflect any charges of bias they'll say the (condescending or derogatory) tone and content was at the discretion of that writer. They were of course pulling the puppet strings. At any time they could find a writer who could produce a quality piece of substance that is equally compelling and informative.

Another agenda is to do these types of black people 101 stories where they do a superficial exploration of something that has been a bone of contention for many. Like our hair apparently. It's either feast or famine apparently. They have gone from ignoring us completely or only reporting the worst offenders to having an axe to grind. When do these shrinking sources of legit media offer an exhaustive, inspiring or accurate portrayal? It's a fluke but it does occur from time to time.

Not that I don't welcome media coverage for things like the population of missing and exploited women and children. Or having our beauty touted in a favorable light. There's just no balance. It can't all be about our First Lady or some variation of " Black Woman It Sucks To Be You". There's a fine line to be had in discussing obstacles and in evaluating stereotypes or exposing pathologies. How we respond is equally as important for we can do things that help elevate our image or chip away at recent progress.

We need to be wary and evaluate who wants to engage in these conversations and why. It is often not designed to be helpful in removing barriers but to reinforce them. Why are we letting other people dictate what should be our own agenda with a message we take responsibility for and protect?

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8 comments:

Nia said...

I agree. Most of us are (or should be) just busy trying to live our lives as free agents and be happy. Yet everywhere you turn there are these articles about us that are under the guise of being enlightening, but really are just ways of presenting our bodies as problematic.
I am not saying that some of the points made in the article are not valid - but these type of articles are always told in a vacum and override certain facts. For example, nowhere is it mentioned in the article that pre-slavery and pre-colonialism Black women were doing stuff to their hair - I have done research on this and many of us were adorning our hair, etc. before we were conquered. Not to make a political statement or anything, but just because it was something that MOST women have always done. Whenever a Black woman does something with her hair she DOES NOT always have to have this big, hidden meaning attached to it.

Faith, you also said: "This is why I am wary of having black men try to deconstruct issues that pertain specifically to black women."
I couldn't agree more with that statement. Whenever I read or hear black men examining "black women's issues" - especially when it comes to our appearance or our relationships - I get EXTREMELY suspicious. More often than not, it is not done in good faith and usually has a healthy dose of male privilege, if not outright sexism and hatred, thrown in.

Tracy said...

Hey Faith!!

Great post! I too am sick of the "Sucks to be You" movement, and am starting my own "It's Great to be Me" movement. Sort of like the Anti-Defamation League, but with Margarita's...

Have you noticed that these "articles" have increased almost 100 fold since Michele O has been the First Lady?

The message is very clear - "Now just because one of y'all is in the White House doesn't mean you can start getting too proud and uppity!" SMH and laughing.

BM and their counterparts know that they are losing their grip on us - IR marriages are up, we are still ahead when it comes to education and employability. We are just too hot to handle right now, and the only thing left to do with us is to try to plant seeds of contention - the old skin, hair thing. But now, even that is not working.

The only thing that sticks in my craw is this: If someone were to write these things about any other race of woman, there would be angry letters, angry fist shaking pundits and at least one boycott.

What do we do? **Crickets**....

They do this because we let them....The next time some TN (trifiling negro) wants to comment about the state of my affairs, I will direct him to WAOD and the Dunbar Village trials and tell him to "fix" that.....

Karen said...

Tracy,

You said: "They do this because we let them....The next time some TN (trifiling negro) wants to comment about the state of my affairs, I will direct him to WAOD and the Dunbar Village trials and tell him to "fix" that....."

EXACTLY!!

Evia said...

Faith, I just have to get this off my chest about bw's hair.

My brother in law (a wm) hired a bw (an LPN) to take care of his aging father-in-law. The bw had to move to this area to move into the house with the elderly man. I think she was hired through a Christian agency of some sort.

Anyway, she kept telling my brother in law and his wife (both are white) that she had to get her hair relaxed. He didn't know why she was constantly talking to him about her hair. Finally, he told her to call me because he figured I could speak the "black hair language." LOL!

Anyway, I told her where she could get her hair relaxed but before she could get to the hair shop, I went by my brother in law's house one day and this bw was there. There were a bunch of us sitting around the kitchen table. She and I were the only blacks there. Immediately, she started thanking me for telling her where she could get her hair relaxed. She said, "You know how ***WE*** can't do anything with our hair when it's nappy." She said this in a room full of whites. The whites looked at her hair and looked at mine, but said nothing. I pointed out to her that I don't have a problem with MY hair at all because it's easy to do(twists) and I flung my twists all around. LOL! I pointed out that I get up in the morning and shake my head to fluff out my twists and that's it. I get compliments on my hair all the time.

But she kept talking about how "bad" her hair is and how she can't even comb her hair because it hurts to comb it! Pretty soon, the white folks there started talking to her about her hair, suggesting to her that she put some cream on her hair so that it wouldn't hurt to comb her hair!!! One guy asked why didn't she just comb her hair while it was wet (like whites can do). She responded that no matter what she does, it was going to hurt and that's why she just had to get it relaxed.

I heard a ww explaining to a wm what "relaxed" hair was. A full discussion broke out about her hair "problems." They talked about her hair for the next 15 minutes. All I could do was again say that my hair is very easy to do. I'm sure they all left there thinking that bw's hair is a PROBLEM and who was it who put that in their minds? A BLACK WOMAN.

I don't usually say anything about bw's hair because I know so many bw are very sensitive about their hair or the issue of bw's hair. Maybe due to my age and my mindset, I don't have these issues about bw's hair at all. The main problem, as was evident that day with that woman, is that bw do NOT accept or like their own hair!

IMO, bw badly need to EVOLVE when it comes to their hair. I don't think that other people have a problem with bw's hair NEARLY as much as a typical bw has with her own hair. It was really sad that day with that bw almost crying about her "bad" hair. Yet, if the whites there started talking about her hair or joking about it, she'd get upset.

Once again, this is another example of bw shooting themselves in the foot.

freethinker said...

I totally agree with your post. The last draw for me and the media's depiction of "the hate my self black woman" was seeing the Dr. Miracle comercials where a loud, shrill voiced, black women is screaming because her hair isn't laying flat. Soon as it was laying flat she was so happy, and just a grinnin'. It seems everything that is geared towards a black audience always has some subliminal mind trick in it. I no longer deny there is a conspiracy in all films made for a mainly black audience. I can't remember the last movie I saw that wasn't reinforcing negative black something be it stereotypes, or relationships amongst black folks.

ActsofFaithBlog said...

Nia: You're right all women have done things to adorn their hair. These are private conversations - or at least they should be. If black women were protected and cherished as the epitome of beauty above all other groups of women then I could understand the choice of some to have these conversations. Otherwise this is a real pain in the you know what!

Tracy: Hiya!! I hear you, but make my cocktail vodka-based please! It is Friday after all....lol! If so many non-blacks are suddenly curious about us shouldn't this be an indication to them how they've isolated themselves?!!

Karen: Thanks.

Evia: That's just scary! We do have to bear responsibility for helping fuel some (a lot?) of this negative attention?

freethinker: Welcome. You know that ad you mentioned is vaguely familiar to me as being something advertised on BET or some other black publication. That's says it all. There's a lot of denigrating media that seeks to heighten the feelings of inadequacy amongst blacks. These are the type of ads that need to be boycotted.

Tracy said...

Faith:

Got a Cosmopolitan all lined up for ya!!

"If so many non-blacks are suddenly curious about us shouldn't this be an indication to them how they've isolated themselves?!!"

Not so much isolated, but their thinking is being challenged - for the longest time, there was only one standard of beauty that remained unchallenged.

If people (primarily in the US) start having to at least acknowledge that, yes, bw are multifaceted, talented and beautiful - outside of the Oprah, Florida Evans mold - that is going to break down the Anglo is best myth that BM and their counterparts hold dear.

Do you realize what could happen then? Lots of folks that profit from that thinking would lose money. More black actresses would be working. Hair care business would cut the bad hair crap or go bankrupt! And BM would have nothing left to go to but the trailers! LOL!

If only we all collectively could see our worth beyond hair and what the media says we are.

I guess Fierceness will have to be had one bw at a time...

ActsofFaithBlog said...

Tracy: Raising my martini glass. I don't think we need to break down any other group's beauty to show our own. I used think in terms of how some white women have either fought against or exploited their pedestal but listening to Evia state that we don't need to rally against another woman's beauty standard to have our own makes sense. It's the difference between being a beggar and being a conquerer. We can be confident and trust that we will have our own. I also won't join in on the "we are so oppressed" choir either. Though there are clearly disadvantages to being put on the pedestal it's far better than being relegated to the gutter.