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Just when I think I’ve read or heard all of the ignorant comments about nappiness and things related, I manage to stumble across something else that proves me wrong.

The latest stuck-on-stupid statement I came across appears in the book “Blue Veins and Kinky Hair: Naming and Color Consciousness in African America," by Obiagele Lake. Lake’s book offers a historical look at the cultural background of skin color and hair issues in the African-American community.

William Calvin Chase

William Calvin Chase

In the book, there is a March 5, 1910, editorial written by W. Calvin Chase, founder and editor of the now defunct African-American newspaper, "The Washington Bee." In his editorial, Chase strongly urged black women to straighten their kinky hair.

He continued his rant of "stupification" by saying that God discriminated against black women when he gave their hair a kinky texture.

Yeah, he went there.

“We say straighten our hair, ladies beautify yourselves,” he writes. “Make aggravating, reclusive, elusive, shrinking kinks, long-flowing tresses that may be coiled or curled or puffed to suit Dame Fashion’s latest millinery creations, even if it takes every ounce of hair straightening preparation that can be manufactured . . . even God, who discriminated against our women on this hair proposition, knows that straight hair beautifies a woman. Yes, straighten your hair and do it at once.”

Brother Chase wrote the editorial in 1910 and died in 1921, which makes him conveniently unavailable to tell me what possessed him to write an editorial that is beyond bizarre.

What kept me from hyperventilating after reading it was to remind myself of the time in which it was written. Chase’s newspaper, which was established in 1888 and lasted for 40 years, was published during the heyday of Washington’s black aristocracy. It was a time when elitism and color prejudice within the race was prevalent in the nation’s capital city.

The term “blue vein” referred to blacks who were so light-skinned and so close to white that the blue veins at their wrists would show. The blue-veined folk considered themselves part of an elite upper-class society. The madness was also reflected in hair texture. Kinky hair was a definite disqualifier for inclusion.

Chase wasn’t a "blue vein," but he was born the son of wealthy black Washingtonians and was raised as part of a privileged class. To his credit, he was a vocal critic of “color phobia,” and his writings lambasted the pretentiousness of light-skinned blacks and their discrimination of those with dark skins.

But he apparently wasn’t as passionate about hair texture.

Brother Chase’s 1910 editorial claiming that God’s blessing of kinky hair was a discriminatory act clearly shows that he was missing a few follicles.

Knowing this kept me from gagging over his words.

I wound up giggling instead.


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