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-   -   question about appropriation, race and hairstyles (http://www.naturallycurly.com/curltalk/general-discussion-about-curly-hair/139271-question-about-appropriation-race-hairstyles.html)

Zig 01-23-2012 10:22 PM

question about appropriation, race and hairstyles
 
Hi everyone!

I'm not sure where to post this question, so I thought I'd post it here (bear with me... the explanation is long).

I've been taking some women studies/ethnic studies courses at my university, and I recently read an article about dreads which got me thinking.

The article argued that when white people wear dreads, it's an act of privilege, power and appropriation. Dreads have been a symbol of black/ afro-american pride and rebellion against white beauty standards, and for white people to wear them takes the aesthetic look, but diminishes the cultural message.

I don't have dreads, but I'm white and I have 3b curly hair, which I like to wear natural with minimal products. Since high school I've been wearing it in braid-like twists to keep it from getting tangled while still keeping it looking nice. I've been told it looks sort of like dreads and sort of like braids.

I've never seen another white person wearing the style, but since I started, I've seen a few black/ afro-american women wearing it. As far as I know, there isn't the same cultural significance to this style as dreads, but I'm wondering if I am enacting my privilege by wearing it and if I should re-consider.

What do you think? Does my favorite style cross a line? and more generally... Should white people wear traditionally black/african american hairstyles like fros, dreads ect?

I plan to pose the question in my class too, but I'm curious to hear what all of you have to say, since this is a curly community. Thanks for your thoughts!

Zig 01-23-2012 10:28 PM

link
 
Here's a zine page with more of what I'm talking about.

http://zinelibrary.info/files/dreads.pdf

SmilingElephant 01-24-2012 08:48 PM

If your hair can do it...i don't see nothing wrong with it. I just hate when Afros are worn as costumes.:cwm10: My hair is not a prop...its...my...hair.

My thing is that....i notice that any style that Black hair can do that other hair can't do....its deemed unprofessional. Not too long ago (just a few decades) they were firing news anchors for wearing braids and they are just now getting comfy with our natural curls.

That being said...i dont see anything personally wrong with it...as long as it is not meant to be a mockery of us.

britney. 01-24-2012 08:55 PM

I think you should continue to wear your hair how you described, if that's how you like your hair. I don't think there is any reason you shouldn't, everyone should wear their hair how they like.. I don't see anything "racist"? about wearing certain hairstyles!

redcelticcurls 01-25-2012 12:55 AM

There are white cultures who had locked hair. Think of those in old Celtic tribes who had elf locks.

Hair locking has probably been around as long as humans have. It's not a mono racial or monocultural thing.


Siri types my posts for me.

ttlolla 01-25-2012 01:11 AM

I don't think you have to apologise for wearing a style you like . You are not enacting any privilege by wearing twists .

IAgirl 01-25-2012 01:53 AM

I'm thinking, "Wow, that's so college-y." Try not to over-think it. (I mean, it's a great mental exercise to think as much about the issue as you have, but it's just going to make you feel insecure and there are other great things to apply your mind to). It's your hair. Wear it how you want. If somebody else has a problem with it for some reason, that's their problem. There may come a day when you want a sort of job where that hairstyle just won't "go," when you'll have to change your hair a little bit, but that's totally different.
Your intent is to keep your hair from blowing into a mass of tangles, not to oppress anybody or imply anything sociocultural or adopt some intentionally offensive affectation. Intent is often apparent. It's not just the hair, it's your clothes, your manner, the company you keep that rounds out the picture of whether or not your hair is making a statement vs. "your hair, sans product, in a protective style."

As Freud is alleged to have said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." Sometimes your hairstyle is just a hairstyle.

SaraNoH 01-25-2012 08:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SmilingElephant (Post 1868480)
If your hair can do it...i don't see nothing wrong with it. I just hate when Afros are worn as costumes.:cwm10: My hair is not a prop...its...my...hair.

But people use curly hair/straight haired wigs for costumes all the time as well. Hair is hair, and if a 5th grader wants to dress as a disco-dancer from the 60's for Halloween and wears an afro wig, who's to tell them that they're being offensive?

SmilingElephant 01-25-2012 09:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SaraNoH (Post 1868741)
Quote:

Originally Posted by SmilingElephant (Post 1868480)
If your hair can do it...i don't see nothing wrong with it. I just hate when Afros are worn as costumes.:cwm10: My hair is not a prop...its...my...hair.

But people use curly hair/straight haired wigs for costumes all the time as well. Hair is hair, and if a 5th grader wants to dress as a disco-dancer from the 60's for Halloween and wears an afro wig, who's to tell them that they're being offensive?

Other ppl may not find it offensive but personally, like I said, I do. I don't find my hair "funny". To ME it's like a white person dressing up in black face. I don't like it, given the history of race relations in this country...I don't like it personally.

Now, I won't scream or yell at someone for doing that. But it just shows me that not everybody is aware that Black ppl have been the laughingstock of America for centuries. When it was my ancestors that really contributed a heck of a lot to this country and we are still being made fun of. That's how deep it is for ME. to other Black ppl it may be okay. I'm just stating my opinion.

luvscurlz 01-25-2012 09:52 AM

I think anyone can wear any hairstyle they want. It's no one else's business what someone else chooses to do with their own hair.

WurlyLox 01-25-2012 10:45 AM

I think anyone of any race should wear their hair as they please - anything that it will do that they find flatters them.

There's nothing new under the sun - thru all the eons of time, people of all races have been twisting, braiding, etc. their hair to control it, get it out of the way and to look better/well-groomed. No one race has a monopoly on any method of doing so, IMO.

SwtAnana 01-25-2012 04:10 PM

You should be able to wear your hair however you want! I think that it is so silly for people to make a big deal out of which cultures can wear what hairstyles. *sigh* I understand wanting to be PC and not wanting to offend anyone but sometimes I think the PC pendulum has swung way too far in the other direction when every.single.thing a person does is interpreted as offensive.


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Jo Somebody 01-25-2012 05:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by redcelticcurls (Post 1868579)
There are white cultures who had locked hair. Think of those in old Celtic tribes who had elf locks.

Hair locking has probably been around as long as humans have. It's not a mono racial or monocultural thing.


Siri types my posts for me.

This, this, and this.

BellaAmore 01-25-2012 06:08 PM

To me, hair is hair. However you feel comfortable wearing, wear it! I don't find it offensive for any one person to wear their hair the way they chose, perhaps I'm just lax but, it's just hair!


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