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Weaves, Relaxers Examples of Black America Committing Cultural Appropriation

by Todd A. Smith

 

We Do it Too

 

I am no fan of Rachel Dolezal.


However, many of those criticizing her for misappropriating Black culture and style are just as guilty as the infamous former head of the Spokane, Wash. chapter of the NAACP.


The fact that Dolezal attempted to pass for Black almost divided the Black community.


Many saw it as no big deal, but others saw it as a one-woman minstrel show with a White woman stealing Black culture, complete with blackface makeup.


Nevertheless the same people, many of them Black women, who criticized Dolezal for incorporating Black hairstyles into her look are the same people making people of other races filthy rich by purchasing Brazilian, Indian and Malaysian weaves for their hair as if their natural beauty is not good enough.


Based on an article written for the Huffington Post, “Relaxers represent 21 percent of the Black hair care market with expenditures at $152 million, down 15 percent since 2011 due to the natural hair trend.”


The January 24, 2014 article also reported, “Nearly six out of 10 Black consumers wear a wig, weave or extensions, which enables them to switch up their look.”


Unfortunately, SOME sisters would rather dye their hair blond and use chemicals to straighten their hair rather than rock their natural look as God intended.


Is there a double standard when it comes to the misappropriating of hairstyles or is it a result of mainstream America’s European standard of beauty?


While Osa Osula, 33, does not have a problem with Dolezal and her hairstyle she does not see Black women with weaves or relaxers as trying to look non-Black but a response to America’s vision of beauty.


Osula said, “I have been natural for 11 years, and I have worn wigs, braids, weaves and relaxers before, so I know for me it was a matter of changing ones style, but I can honestly say, at the age of 16 I did not accept my hair texture.  

 

“However, there was never a time I wanted to be Caucasian or pretended to have Caucasian life experiences, simply because my hair was straight.  There was a time that African-American people were not represented in the media, and our standard of beauty was that of a Caucasian woman with long flowing hair.  So many African-American women were chasing that standard of beauty because of the years of subconscious brainwashing from the time we were young. 

 

“We would even sacrifice scalp burn from relaxers to fit into that mold of what we thought was the ultimate standard of beauty.  I am so thankful that now we as African-American women have defined our standard of beauty for ourselves, and we are proudly embracing our natural hair.  

 

“I now look at the use wigs and hair weaves simply as a ‘hair accessory’ and nothing more, and it changes with my mood as well as my clothes.  The difference is, simply wearing a wig or a weave will never afford you any privileges at the end of the day nor will it give you insight into White culture.”


Regardless of the reasoning, everyone borrows from the culture of others.


While I am the first to admit that sisters are beyond beautiful whether they are rocking the natural, a weave or blond perm, how can some sisters criticize one woman for stealing their style when there are countless commercials on BET encouraging them to purchase another race’s style and culture?


I guess it is not cultural appropriation if you buy another culture’s hair, but it is cultural appropriation if you do not have the consensus from that particular demographic.


The anger that some Black women feel towards Dolezal is understandable because of the fact that she misrepresented who she was.


Additionally, cultural appropriation seems to happen to Black women more than their lighter counterparts, with Black women never getting the credit for their style, culture and beauty by mainstream America.


Mainstream America seems to have only discovered twerking and the beauty of big behinds when White women took it and ran with it like Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian.


But hypocrisy is not sexy, not matter who wears those nine letters across their chest.


Although it seems like White artists like Michael Bolton (“When a Man Loves a Woman”) get more credit than their Black creators like Percy Sledge, sometimes Black artists like Whitney Houston (“I Will Always Love”) seem to get more credit than their songs White creator, like Dolly Parton.


And while many are criticizing Dolezal, they are making Asian business owners rich buying weaves from the heads of foreign women.


Cultural appropriation is cultural appropriation no matter who the culprit or the victim is.


It is not just important when it is our culture and style being stolen by others.  Cultural appropriation is just as bad when we jack others for their style and culture too.

This article was published on Friday 31 July, 2015.
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