“You have to calm down. You really have a temperament, but that is normal in your culture.”
“You people always claim that someone is racist, just because they think different than you.”
“Your hair is greasy, because you people always use Vaseline as oil”
“I prefer to have straight hair, because it is more beautiful”
“So are you mixed? You cannot have naturally curly hair…You are probably white and African”
“Can I touch your hair? It looks so coarse…” *touches hair* “Oh…hm…different”
I have an endless list of all comments I received during the past half year, if I have to write about all comments received in my life then I would be an author. In the past I felt offended often, whenever people dropped odd comments about my hair. It made me feel bad and sometimes I wished the people had less prejudices. After having multiple confrontations as well as escalations, I realized that I had to change my view on this situation. The point is that indeed there are many comments made about our gorgeous curls/locks. But are these comments meant to be offensive?
During the past centuries people of color experienced difficulties, such as slavery and racism. In order to have a successful career in the music industry, women often relaxed their hair. Around that time conk was often used as well; The miracles and The temptations applied this mixture to their hair in order to make it sleeker. Bands, singers and actors took this effort in order to ease the engagement with the light skinned audience.
Slavery, racism and the music industry all contributed to the misconception that light skinned are superior to dark skin. Our view is also shaped by the perceptions of our ancestors. Since we are raised by the same/similar ethnicity we often do not really have insight on the perception of other cultures towards us. If you admire someone, you will automatically mirror the person in question. For example, if you see your favorite celebrity rocking her curly fro (Solange), you might try to imitate her look for a special occasions. How many M.A.C Ruby Woo lipstick were sold when Rihanna was rocking it? Back then relaxer had the same effect as M.A.C Ruby Woo; Celebs were using it and unconsciously conveyed the idea that straight hair is beauty.
Of course there are multiple other factors contributing to this misconception. In the past, it was difficult for a dark skinned person to get the lead in a movie or to get a successful modeling career. Nevertheless, our world is changing: Tyra Banks, Naomi Campell, Oprah and Beyoncé build a succesfull career and became sources of inspiration for many of us.
“Ignorance: lacking knowledge or awareness in general; uneducated or unsophisticated” – Oxford dictionary
We often shout that people are ignorant when they make comments we really do not like. But being ignorant is not really negative, it means lacking knowledge about something. We will always deal with prejudices and it is okay. Because when we teach each other about our cultural background; we will make this world a much better place…Not only for this generation, but also for all future generations.