So frequently I encounter a black man who believes he’s doing some good and contributing positively to the discourse on black femininity by chastising black women wearing weaves or wigs. Possibly, the most insidious aspect of their criticism is that it comes under the guise of social justice, veiled in the constant proclamation of love for the black woman. Real talk, if you’re that guy, kindly, and I say this with all the love I can muster, back the fuck up.
As black women, we deal with enough bull shit justifying our existence and rationalizing—even to ourselves—our images to add the destructive and extremely sexist anti-weave/wig narrative. We are constantly bombarded with white thin normativity imageries that are degrading enough as it is to our identities. Growing up under white universality as a black woman means encompassing the role of the extreme other in society. In other words, from childhood we’re striped of agency to self-identify how we see fit. Not to mention, our humanity and identities are criticized constantly.
And it never stops.
I remember all the racism I was exposed to as a child. I remember kids teasing my hair and my lips, my structure, my lack of adequately sized hips and ass. It never stopped. Not when I ignored the comments or learned to clap back. As I aged, they continued to filter through. Whether they’re in regards to my hair texture or, rather, my persona. Seriously, Black women are exposed to these types of comments all the time.
To add to this, we’re required to conform, to perform, for the white gaze, more so than the Black man. In order to achieve positions of respectability, we must—at least to some extent—succumb to the Standard, even in subversive contexts, even in Black dominated spaces. We are hyper aware of this expectation, and we certainly do not need toxic Black masculinity to further add to this already degrading and marginalizing discourse.
Adding another standard for Black women to conform to as a way to justify our Black womanhood, even if that expectation requires us to present our natural selves, is just as insidious as the current standard. The idea that being Black and proud equates to rocking our natural hair ignores our pain and suffering. It invalidates our experiences, our humanities. It is nothing but another expectation superimposed on our identities and thus just as every bit degrading as the white standard that requires us to perform daily.
So, real talk, if you’re that guy who centers his oppression to the extent as to ignorantly criticize the different faces and expressions of Black femininity, you need to seriously sit the fuck down. I realize that you’re expressing pain the only way you understand, but since you don’t get the nuances in identity and race politics, you need to be told.
Back the fuck up.
Photo cred: Imedia