Monday, October 19, 2009

Pick On Someone Your Own Size Allison Samuels!

I don't know about you, but I see some sheen and curls going on in this picture!

So courtesy of Aunt Jemima's Revenge, I was reading this Newsweek article about hair by Allison Samuels and it . . . pissed . . . me . . . off! I was so disgusted with this woman's tone that I decided to write about it. My main problem is #1 she's talking about someone's baby #2 she's judgemental, trifling and handled this subject matter with little care or thought and #3 this is an article in Newsweek. NEWSWEEK for goodness sake! Not some niche newspaper, a mainstream nationally distributed newspaper. I will post a few excerpts. (Okay, I'll post a whole lot of excerpts, lol)

Up until recently, Angelina Jolie seemed to be doing a pretty decent job with Zahara Jolie Pitt—providing essential and expensive medical care, purchasing land in Zahara’s native Ethiopia with the plan to build a health center, providing a life of adventure and opportunity. Wonderful things indeed, but lately it seems Angelina has taken a page out of Tom Cruise’s book—and it all comes down to Zahara’s hair.

Okay, expensive and essential medical care . . . check! Encouraging interest and pride in little girl's culture by purchasing land in Ethiopia and building a health care center . . . check! Offering child a life of adventure and opportunity that the average human could only dream of . . . check! Giving child insecurities about hair? . . . not so much. Well let's leave that to Ms. Allison, won't we? Heeeere we go!

Photos of Zahara show the 4-year-old girl sporting hair that is wild and unstyled, uncombed and dry. Basically: a “hot mess.’’

Okay, wow! Um, she's a child. A baby. And looking at the pictures, her hair doesn't look all that bad to me. Actually, it looks quite sheeny to me. But even if it didn't, LAY OFF THE KID and cover a real story! Let's continue, shall we?

Hair is often the first thing others notice, be it the texture, length, fullness, or shine. In the African-American community it can also tell a story. It can indicate your background, lineage, and social standing. From slavery until today, skin color and hair texture played a large part in how the overall society viewed blacks and ultimately the way African-Americans saw themselves.

Yes, she has a point. SOME (ignorant, shallow, old-fashioned, feeble minded, racist) people still judge each other based on skin color and hair texture. But "It can indicate background, lineage and social standing." For real Allison? I really wished that she put "Some people think it indicates"

There are many legacies of black hair in America, but the most enduring is this: even those who eschew pursuing European-looking hair still take a tremendous amount of pride in looking well groomed and put together, and still need to devote time and energy to achieve this effect.

Um, I think that's everybody Allison. I think every culture takes pride in looking well-groomed and put together. Oh, but glad that you mentioned that even us natural heads take tremendous pride in looking groomed too. I'm sure nobody would have guessed that.

It’s no wonder that African-American women are the largest consumers of hair products, spending close to a billion dollars each year to control their hair. These same women passed down these perceived notions about hair to their daughters. They usually begin hot combing and braiding the child’s hair to take the kink out at an early age.

Allow me to translate. Black women have so many hangups about our hair that we spend more money than we should trying to "control" it and we pass this baggage and hangups onto our children at an early age, who then pass it onto their children. So yes, obviously we have some hangups and issues about how we are perceived.

But even the mothers who spare the hot comb still have to put time and effort into keeping hair healthy: Any self-respecting black mother knows that she must comb, oil, and brush her daughter’s hair every night. This prevents the hair from matting up, drying out, and breaking off. It also prevents any older relatives from asking them why you’re neglecting your child and letting her run around looking like a wild woman. Having well-managed hair is not just about style, it’s about pride, dignity, and self-respect. Keeping your daughter’s hair neat is an unspoken rule of parental duties that everyone in the community recognizes and respects.

Yes, and that's what it's all about. How we are perceived by people in the community. Being perceived a certain way seems to be very important to Ms. Allison. I don't think Allison understands that Brad and Angie are huge celebrities. They don't care about trends, they set them. Also, they don't see "folks in the community" on a regular basis. Nobody's going to come up to her and tell her to "do that child's hair." Outside of the privacy of her own home, she is surrounded by wealthy people and professional butt-kissers. If not the butt kissers, she's probably surrounded by people who don't have time to sit around judging a 4 year old girl's hair. A little girl whose hair is fine. Just fine! Look at the texture in that picture. Her hair looks more hydrated than mine! LOL

Hair that is nice, neat, and cared for also gives African-American girls the confidence that they can fit into the world at large without being seen as completely different. One truism of childhood is that nothing is more important than being like everyone else. Well, as like everyone else as you can be with Hollywood parents. But not all people will recognize Zahara as the child of movie royalty. To many, she’ll be just a black little girl—and a black girl with bad hair at that.

Again, who are these judgmental people she's talking about and when is little Zahara going to be walking around surrounded by people who see her as just some random "little black girl"? Probably as an adult (or near adult), and by that point I'm sure her hair will be different. And "bad hair"??? Did she just use the term "bad hair"???!!! (Jesus take the wheel!) ~Falls out on floor~

In recent pictures it's clear Angelina Jolie hasn’t taken the time to learn or understand the long and painful history of African-American women and hair. If she had I can’t imagine she would continue to allow Zahara to look like she has in the past few months.

Maybe she did. Maybe she looked at the childish, shallow, prejudiced, judgmental way that Black women have dealt with "our hair" for so many years and decided that she wasn't going to be bothered with that foolishness. Personally, I don't blame her for not attaching as much meaning to Black women's hair as we have. Maybe Zahara is going to grow up with the mindset that we all should have. It's . . . just . . . hair.

This is not to say that critics want Angelina to perm or hot comb Zahara's hair. Not that 4-year-old African-American girls don't get their hair hot combed. I certainly did every Saturday for Sunday morning church.

Aaaw, how charming?! (That's sarcasm, yall :-) Applying that kind of heat to a Black person's hair on a regular basis (much less a child's hair) is bad. Bad, bad, BAD!!! Just because it was done to you as a child, doesn't mean it was right. Forget tradition. It's damaging and wrong! And by the tone of this paragraph, it sounds like you do want somebody to hot comb that child's hair. LOL Don't lie! You just finished bringing it up like it was a fond memory. Let's all face it, that is one little Black girl who is not going to be sitting in nobody's kitchen, getting her hair hot combed before church. Are you kidding?!

Instead, the majority of those writing in to the blogs say they just want Angelina to brush and oil the little girl's hair so it will be healthy and in shape.

Looking at the picture, it looks oiled and healthy. Yeah, yall want somebody to hotcomb that head! lol

Allison Samuels
(I do like her hair, though LOL)

But it seems the constant travel the family’s been doing over the past year has put issues like grooming on the back burner. For the record, Jolie’s daughter Shiloh isn’t exactly looking like much time is being given to her hair either. But she isn’t a little black girl being judged by mainstream standards.

No, she's not - because you barely touched the topic of Shiloh's hair. But Zahara's a little Black girl that's going to be judged by Black women like you all day long. I've said it before (probably not on this blog) and I'll say it again, yes, racism is alive and well but I have never, NEVER had a white person make me feel about my hair the way a Black person has. White people couldn't care less (and that's just my truth). When I would wear my hair out in its natural glory, it was the Black people that always had something to say. Sorry, not trying to glorify White people or anything . . . but I hate it when people say they are negatively criticizing you in order to protect you from negative critics. Call it what it is lady! You are the "mainstream" media that will be casting out judgements about this girl's hair. I don't see any White women or men writers at Newsweek taking on this topic. (Sidebar: I am not taking away from the fact that there are some racist White people who don't feel comfortable seeing "ethnic hairstyles" in the workplace and will even deny us jobs based on that fact, but I don't see little Miss Zahara Jolie having to worry about that.)

There are those who say there is nothing wrong with Zahara’s hair at all, that her hair is in its natural state and that’s just fine.

That would be me! Like I said before, her hair looks healthy to me. Also, I am an advocate for little Black girls. I think they are adorable at that innocent age without a care in the world, no hangups and nothing but opportunity, high self-esteem and flowers and rainbows, and candy and princesses and their hair grows like weeds because we don't do half as much damage to it as will be done in the future. That is what I see when I look at my nieces. That is what I see when I look at little Zahara. Why would anyone want to take that away from them? Which reminds me, I gotta take my little nieces out soon and tell them how beautiful and intelligent and wonderful they are. :-)

I say natural hair---afro, dreads, etc. is fine, if it’s maintained regularly or when the child is old enough to make that decision for herself.

Again, it looks like it's being maintained. Just not styled (I really can't emphasize that enough). Which, personally, I have no problem with. Actually, low maintenance is the best thing you can do for a Black person's hair (I wouldn't be shocked if Angie did some research and found out the same thing and that's why she's letting little mama run free in all of her adorable glory) Also, I'm sure that once little Zahara starts to care, her mommy will provide whatever resources are necessary to get her on the Rihanna bandwagon or whatever.

Until then, the child’s parents are responsible for their general care and upkeep. Zahara is not even old enough to know that her hair looks dry and damaged as it stands straight up on her head. But there will come a day when this beautiful little African girl will understand what it means to be an African-American woman in this society and realize unlike her younger sister, hers is not a wash-and-go world.

Yes, one day there will be some judgemental-behind, Black woman (like you) to point out her "perceived" flaws and try to hand her the baggage that she missed out on as a babe. Until then, I'm sure she's doing okay. Now get thee to the ghetto and help someone who really needs it and stop being a snob, picking on little Black girls with millionaire parents (who could afford to probably just buy their own hair care line anyway).

And boo! Boooooo on you and your article!