Thursday, April 28, 2011

natural hair experience #12,013

sooo...not too long i got fired from my job. but now i have another one. and yesterday was my 5th day at work. 3 of those days i had my hair in a puff and the last two, i had my fro out. yesterday one of my boss says "you need to put that up. it needs to be the other day...but you can't have it out like that."

it's one thing to read about the negative experiences in having natural hair on some of the blogs i get on, but it's another to experience it. and my response was one of compliance, but i suppose the expression on my face said otherwise, because my boss asked me a few minutes after her remark -"i didn't offend you did i?" fortunately for me, this is a job i plan on leaving in about 3 months after i save up a bit for college-this is NOT a career. what i thought most about throughout the day was the discomfort women with natural hair must have in corporate jobs or ones they consider the careers they want to be in. what does one do in one of those situations wherein if you don't comply with their policies, they're likely to be terminated? it's a bit uncomfortable feeling as though my boss thinks i look a mess, and based almost solely only my hair....which is based on her negative Western indoctrination of natural black hair.

but the most interesting thing of that day was the responses i got from different customers. one white guy asked me whether i was going after the Lauryn Hill look (as if he knows ANYTHING about Lauryn...), another screamed "Macy Gray" at me and asked if i could sing him a song. two guests told me they liked my hair, and another brother told me to keep it natural "cuz thats real".
the compliments are okay, however the other remarks are a bit annoying. it's as if my hair is a gimmick or a form of entertainment as opposed to being just what my hair looks like naturally. i'm not Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Macy Gray, Angela Davis, Jill Scott, Afro Samurai, or a character from Good Times. and my hair is not a show, a costume, a joke, or the manifestation of an attention-deprived black girl. i am just me and my hair looks the way it grows out of my scalp. nothing more or less. but i'm not surprised. i'm the only one i've seen down here with a real fro longer than a couple inches. and while people in the north are so used to it to the point at which they're starting to look at relaxed sisters a bit funny (maybe thats a stretch...), the south is still about 50 years behind with 100 naturals in Atlanta alone and about 6 scattered around the tri-state area.

i've yet to fully figure out what i'm going to do about my boss at work (because a puff gets a bit boring after a while...and because my fro has the right to do whatever the fuck she wants when she wants...). i may send some messages to some natural websites with my company name and a letter of the type of treatment natural hair receives in southern Alabama or i may just have a sit-down and ask to see the wardrobe and appearance policy with a special explanation on the hair. or i may just let it go. this is a temporary job and the customer comments do nothing but add unnecessary frustration to my day.

comment. think. criticize. encourage.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Kerry James Marshall

i just realized that i haven't done a post on one of the best artists i've seen in a while that goes by the name Kerry James Marshall. and how it is that i have gone this long without even knowing his name is a shame. i think the darkness of his subjects is what draws me to his work.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

inherent inhumanity?

i can recall a number of times reading about and seeing in documentaries and television specials, about the ways in which lynchings were preserved through photographs and newspaper articles. oftentimes, the photographs would be turned into postcards and shipped to far-away family members and loved ones, inscribed with a sentence or two of love and good intentions.
the history of lynchings as preserved through postcards is the basis for the website Without Sanctuary, which has over 70 postcards, almost all with dates, names, and background stories of either the victim and/or the criminals. one postcard is in three parts of a black man being beaten by a mob, and then burned alive, all strung together with a ribbon, meant to unfold like a home-made book.

a week or so ago, i was watching a video with Ivan Van Sertima being interviewed by someone about his books. the interviewer begins to ask him about what all of his books, concepts, and facts he's uncovered say about the "humanity" of whites/Europeans. the question was, in essence, asking how is it that of all the empires and diversity the world over, we only see barbarism like the kind seen in these postcards (amongst other things) from one group of people (or only exhibited in others in times of distress/war)? Van Sertima insists that he doesn't believe in any theories involving humanity because they aren't rooted in anything concrete.
is there something inherently wrong or different in Europeans/whites that could explain these types of actions, wars, genocides, and mutilation of individuals? it is only recently that i have learned that aside from lynching an individual, lynching victims were often tortured prior to the hanging. during and/or after the death of the victim, fingers, toes, the ears and nose were often cut off and sold as souvenirs, along with the penis, as castration seemed to be almost mandated. one of the photos on the website i linked above is a photo framed, with a lock of the victim's hair in between the frame and the glass (!?).

the question is often raised in western philosophy (and possibly psychology and psychoanalysis) whether we are all completely mad and chaotic beings, being held together by society, religion, survival, what ever....or are we "rational", reasonable, logical, people at our core whose only barbarism surfaces within repressive and oppressive societies? (theres a really good documentary that addresses these questions in part here).
i believe most people who have done any research on the subject of race, have concluded that the idea is nothing more than a social construct. besides physical appearances, there are no fundamental or inherent concepts or beliefs that arise outside (or before) social upbringing. we are all the same. then again...that's scientific.

if we accepted the idea that there is nothing inherent in this idea of "race", then where is the basis of almost any black American intellectual with a Pan-African, Black Nationalist, or Afrocentric agenda? is there not an idea that suggests we are connected to cultures and traditions of Africa? Dr. Clarke illustrates this point in this video, where he says the heart of every black person is in Africa, irrespective of our geographic birthplace.
maybe it isn't a coincidence that many people making these arguments also ascribe flawed and inhumane attributes to white/Europeans. ??

so what is it? do we enter into this world as a "tabula rasa" or do we have cores rooted in our places of origin (isn't everyone's Africa anyway?)? if there are inherent characteristics in each of us, along racial, national, or cultural lines, what are they? are some rooted in negative attributes while other are not?

comment. think. criticize.