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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hijas Americanas: Growing up Latina


Image found at: http://rosiemolinary.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/hijas-americanas-cover.png


I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the hair identity issues confronting women, often with a focus on African-American women. I just Googled “Hispanic women hair” and came across a very interesting video (found at: http://rosiemolinary.com/hijas-americanas/) that summarizes Rose Molinary’s book Beauty, body image and growing up Latina. While the video is geared towards Latinas it has universal appeal. I would love to read your thoughts. How can we help women of all cultural backgrounds embrace their authentic beauty?

Hijas Americanas: Growing up Latina


Image found at: http://rosiemolinary.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/hijas-americanas-cover.png


I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the hair identity issues confronting women, often with a focus on African-American women. I just Googled “Hispanic women hair” and came across a very interesting video (found at: http://rosiemolinary.com/hijas-americanas/) that summarizes Rose Molinary’s book Beauty, body image and growing up Latina. While the video is geared towards Latinas it has universal appeal. I would love to read your thoughts. How can we help women of all cultural backgrounds embrace their authentic beauty?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Dreadlocked Museum Piece


Image found at: http://inlinethumb31.webshots.com/45598/2335620100105377653S500x500Q85.jpg


Most people don’t like to be judged by any one facet of their appearance. In fact, I think most of us want to be valued based on deeper things like kindness, empathy, a loving nature, friendliness, and so on. Ok, maybe I just went deep. I’m trying to figure out why I am so appalled when people (usually strangers) ask questions / make comments like:


 Can I touch your hair?

 Is that your real hair?

 Aren’t dreadlocks dirty?

 How’d you get your hair like that?

 That’s a weave right?

 Black women don’t have long hair do they?

 You don’t have to wash your hair right?

 Did you put perm on your locks to get them to curl that way?

 Ew, I just don’t like locks, they look dirty.


At a basic level, I don’t like to be ogled or examined like a museum piece or an animal in the zoo. When people ask questions like that it makes it VERY salient that they perceive me as different, somehow exotic. It suddenly becomes obvious that the things that I am accustomed to (e.g., kinky hair, dark skin, full lips, etc.) are considered odd. Hmm, AM I odd? Is something wrong with me? Ugh. I guess I want to be able to be myself, just BE! Not have to answer a bunch of questions to quench someone’s curiosity.


I also think that the above line of questioning is rude. Can you imagine going up to a White man and asking if you can rub his beard, his moustache or touch his head? I don’t think so. That man would look at you like you were crazy, which you would be if you did that in my opinion. So, what makes it okay to ask me? I think it’s because I come from a marginalized group that has historically had less power and been unable to protest such injustices. Instead, we had to grin and bear it and accept the fact that our lack of power made us subject to the whims of those around us. Has that made folks expect us to just be grinning, acquiescent fools who willingly answer any and all questions? Yes, that is one way to look at it. However, I can’t help but think of an alternative view. Could it be that people are genuinely curious and perhaps their lack of exposure to people who are different than they are makes them ignorant to the best way to approach folks like me? I don’t know the answer but I sure want to gain some understanding. Please chime in. Thanks!

Dreadlocked Museum Piece


Image found at: http://inlinethumb31.webshots.com/45598/2335620100105377653S500x500Q85.jpg


Most people don’t like to be judged by any one facet of their appearance. In fact, I think most of us want to be valued based on deeper things like kindness, empathy, a loving nature, friendliness, and so on. Ok, maybe I just went deep. I’m trying to figure out why I am so appalled when people (usually strangers) ask questions / make comments like:


 Can I touch your hair?

 Is that your real hair?

 Aren’t dreadlocks dirty?

 How’d you get your hair like that?

 That’s a weave right?

 Black women don’t have long hair do they?

 You don’t have to wash your hair right?

 Did you put perm on your locks to get them to curl that way?

 Ew, I just don’t like locks, they look dirty.


At a basic level, I don’t like to be ogled or examined like a museum piece or an animal in the zoo. When people ask questions like that it makes it VERY salient that they perceive me as different, somehow exotic. It suddenly becomes obvious that the things that I am accustomed to (e.g., kinky hair, dark skin, full lips, etc.) are considered odd. Hmm, AM I odd? Is something wrong with me? Ugh. I guess I want to be able to be myself, just BE! Not have to answer a bunch of questions to quench someone’s curiosity.


I also think that the above line of questioning is rude. Can you imagine going up to a White man and asking if you can rub his beard, his moustache or touch his head? I don’t think so. That man would look at you like you were crazy, which you would be if you did that in my opinion. So, what makes it okay to ask me? I think it’s because I come from a marginalized group that has historically had less power and been unable to protest such injustices. Instead, we had to grin and bear it and accept the fact that our lack of power made us subject to the whims of those around us. Has that made folks expect us to just be grinning, acquiescent fools who willingly answer any and all questions? Yes, that is one way to look at it. However, I can’t help but think of an alternative view. Could it be that people are genuinely curious and perhaps their lack of exposure to people who are different than they are makes them ignorant to the best way to approach folks like me? I don’t know the answer but I sure want to gain some understanding. Please chime in. Thanks!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Crazy Hair Questions

Yesterday I blogged about my sensitivity to people touching my hair. That made me start thinking about the questions and comments folks have made about my hair during my natural hair journey.

· Can I touch your hair?

· Is that your real hair?

· Aren’t dreadlocks dirty?

· How’d you get your hair like that?

· That’s a weave right?

· Black women don’t have long hair do they?

· You don’t have to wash your hair right?

· Did you put perm on your locks to get them to curl that way?

· Ew, I just don’t like locks, they look dirty.


These are but a few of the questions and comments I’ve heard many, MANY times over since I locked my hair. The thing is, most of the time the questions were asked by people I didn’t know. That’s right, strangers making comments about my hair hygiene. Of course, plenty of folks I do know have made similar comments but I know them so it has a different feeling to it.

What about you? What are some of the crazy things that folks have asked you or said about your hair? I’d love to compile a list of questions and have you all post your answers. This could be fun! J

Crazy Hair Questions

Yesterday I blogged about my sensitivity to people touching my hair. That made me start thinking about the questions and comments folks have made about my hair during my natural hair journey.

· Can I touch your hair?

· Is that your real hair?

· Aren’t dreadlocks dirty?

· How’d you get your hair like that?

· That’s a weave right?

· Black women don’t have long hair do they?

· You don’t have to wash your hair right?

· Did you put perm on your locks to get them to curl that way?

· Ew, I just don’t like locks, they look dirty.


These are but a few of the questions and comments I’ve heard many, MANY times over since I locked my hair. The thing is, most of the time the questions were asked by people I didn’t know. That’s right, strangers making comments about my hair hygiene. Of course, plenty of folks I do know have made similar comments but I know them so it has a different feeling to it.

What about you? What are some of the crazy things that folks have asked you or said about your hair? I’d love to compile a list of questions and have you all post your answers. This could be fun! J

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Don't touch my hair!

Image found at: http://image.spreadshirt.com/image-server/image/composition/16066765/view/1/producttypecolor/70/type/png/width/280/height/280/don-t-touch-my-hair_design.png

A distinct memory in my natural hair life is when I almost jacked up a classmate who put her hand in my hair. (http://tropie7189.blogspot.com/2011/04/natural-hair-and-professional.html). I know that some people may not understand why touching hair may be a sensitive topic but this article provides some insight: http://www.cnn.com/2011/LIVING/07/25/touching.natural.black.hair/index.html


What do you all think? I’ve obviously revealed my opinion but my opinion is not all that this blog is about. I want to hear your honest opinions ESPECIALLY if you disagree with me. Tell me, is it okay to touch strangers’ hair? If yes, under what circumstances? If no, why not? Has anyone ever touched your hair without invitation? Have you ever touched someone’s hair without asking?

Don't touch my hair!

Image found at: http://image.spreadshirt.com/image-server/image/composition/16066765/view/1/producttypecolor/70/type/png/width/280/height/280/don-t-touch-my-hair_design.png

A distinct memory in my natural hair life is when I almost jacked up a classmate who put her hand in my hair. (http://tropie7189.blogspot.com/2011/04/natural-hair-and-professional.html). I know that some people may not understand why touching hair may be a sensitive topic but this article provides some insight: http://www.cnn.com/2011/LIVING/07/25/touching.natural.black.hair/index.html


What do you all think? I’ve obviously revealed my opinion but my opinion is not all that this blog is about. I want to hear your honest opinions ESPECIALLY if you disagree with me. Tell me, is it okay to touch strangers’ hair? If yes, under what circumstances? If no, why not? Has anyone ever touched your hair without invitation? Have you ever touched someone’s hair without asking?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

FOUND: Excellent Hair Stylist

After multiple mishaps with hair stylists, my daughter and I finally struck gold when we visited Denise (Niecy). After the wash and condition, Niecy carefully sectioned my daughter’s hair, combed and blow-dryed each section (just like my Momma used to do! http://tropie7189.blogspot.com/2011/04/natural-hair-care-process-at-least-what.html). Niecy then oiled my daughter’s scalp (I didn’t get the name of it but it was a Mizani product, much better than the petroleum-based products used at the other salons). Niecy had asked my daughter and I for input into what we thought would be the best style. We told her: something out of her face, cute and feminine that could be put into a ponytail. Niecy then free-styled a beautiful style! Okay, so I’m still figuring out how to load the pictures but I will do so ASAP!


All I can say is that I can’t wait to see what Niecy can do with my locs. As some of you may know, I recently contemplated cutting my hair off back to a TWA (teeny weeny afro). However, several readers informed me that it’s possible to style long locs to look short (http://tropie7189.blogspot.com/2011/06/creative-loc-styles.html) so I’m about to explore those options and will blog about the results. J

FOUND: Excellent Hair Stylist

After multiple mishaps with hair stylists, my daughter and I finally struck gold when we visited Denise (Niecy). After the wash and condition, Niecy carefully sectioned my daughter’s hair, combed and blow-dryed each section (just like my Momma used to do! http://tropie7189.blogspot.com/2011/04/natural-hair-care-process-at-least-what.html). Niecy then oiled my daughter’s scalp (I didn’t get the name of it but it was a Mizani product, much better than the petroleum-based products used at the other salons). Niecy had asked my daughter and I for input into what we thought would be the best style. We told her: something out of her face, cute and feminine that could be put into a ponytail. Niecy then free-styled a beautiful style! Okay, so I’m still figuring out how to load the pictures but I will do so ASAP!


All I can say is that I can’t wait to see what Niecy can do with my locs. As some of you may know, I recently contemplated cutting my hair off back to a TWA (teeny weeny afro). However, several readers informed me that it’s possible to style long locs to look short (http://tropie7189.blogspot.com/2011/06/creative-loc-styles.html) so I’m about to explore those options and will blog about the results. J

Monday, July 25, 2011

Found Our New Hair Salon!


Image found at: http://www.wallyssalon.com/images/pitch-2.jpg


I have found our new salon! Hallelujah! I’ve talked about how to find a professional hair salon (http://tropie7189.blogspot.com/2011/07/finding-professional-hair-salon-stylist.html) but I should have taken my own advice! There is something to say about getting referrals (again, thanks Stephanie!). When I first called Denise, I knew that she was a professional. After my last nightmare, I had a million and one questions (what kind of products do you use? Do you work with children? How much do you charge? Is a wash extra? How about conditioner? How much for beadwork? And on and on and on). Denise answered every question with charm and patience. Plus, she audibly gasped when I shared that the last person had put baby oil on my locs. Good sign!


When my daughter and I walked into the salon (I was a bit taken aback by the fact that the front door was barred and locked, no one is getting in unless the stylists unlock the door for them). Once I stepped through the doors, I was relieved and immediately reminded of the old school salons that I grew up frequenting. It was huge inside dressed in deep burgundies and browns. The salon looked like it could accommodate five or more stylists; however, there is only Ms. Gladys and Niecy (as Denise is called). Ms. Gladys has been doing hair since 1974 and still has her South Carolinian accent despite being in Boston for so long. She elected to have just her and Niecy because she can’t “deal with the drama”. I love her right away.


Niecy is washing her daughter’s hair when we arrive. A few moments later she ushers my daughter into a shampoo bowl carefully placing two phone books under her so that she is comfortable. Denise masterfully washes and conditions my daughter’s hair and I can tell that we are in good hands. Denise is super attentive to my daughter constantly checking in to ensure that she is okay. I relax and sink back into my chair. Up next, the styling.


P.S.: It’s nice to be back after taking a fabulous vacation to celebrate our wedding anniversary! Whew-hew for marriage! J

Found Our New Hair Salon!


Image found at: http://www.wallyssalon.com/images/pitch-2.jpg


I have found our new salon! Hallelujah! I’ve talked about how to find a professional hair salon (http://tropie7189.blogspot.com/2011/07/finding-professional-hair-salon-stylist.html) but I should have taken my own advice! There is something to say about getting referrals (again, thanks Stephanie!). When I first called Denise, I knew that she was a professional. After my last nightmare, I had a million and one questions (what kind of products do you use? Do you work with children? How much do you charge? Is a wash extra? How about conditioner? How much for beadwork? And on and on and on). Denise answered every question with charm and patience. Plus, she audibly gasped when I shared that the last person had put baby oil on my locs. Good sign!


When my daughter and I walked into the salon (I was a bit taken aback by the fact that the front door was barred and locked, no one is getting in unless the stylists unlock the door for them). Once I stepped through the doors, I was relieved and immediately reminded of the old school salons that I grew up frequenting. It was huge inside dressed in deep burgundies and browns. The salon looked like it could accommodate five or more stylists; however, there is only Ms. Gladys and Niecy (as Denise is called). Ms. Gladys has been doing hair since 1974 and still has her South Carolinian accent despite being in Boston for so long. She elected to have just her and Niecy because she can’t “deal with the drama”. I love her right away.


Niecy is washing her daughter’s hair when we arrive. A few moments later she ushers my daughter into a shampoo bowl carefully placing two phone books under her so that she is comfortable. Denise masterfully washes and conditions my daughter’s hair and I can tell that we are in good hands. Denise is super attentive to my daughter constantly checking in to ensure that she is okay. I relax and sink back into my chair. Up next, the styling.


P.S.: It’s nice to be back after taking a fabulous vacation to celebrate our wedding anniversary! Whew-hew for marriage! J

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hair bonding


Image found at: http://madamenoire.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/black-church-mother-daughter-praying.jpg


Last night I took out the majority of my daughter’s cornrows (remember, the nightmare African Braiding Salon we visited?). Today, I’m trying out a new stylist who comes highly recommended (thanks Stephanie!). I am hoping that we have a much better experience this time around; I’ll be sure to share!


While removing the cornrows from my daughter’s hair I was transported back to the many floors, rugs and pillows I sat on as a little girl while my Mom braided or unbraided my hair. I was a bit overwhelmed by the fact that I am now someone’s Momma doing her hair (isn’t it weird how those moments happen every now and then?!). As I brushed through my daughter’s hair, I felt a surge of love for her. I want her to understand that her hair is part of who she is but is not her essence. I want her to see how bright, beautiful and loving she is. I tried to be gentle as I coaxed out tangles and knots. Have to get better at that. Sometimes I still revert back to the thought that she’s “just tender-headed”. But, I know I just need to be more tender-hearted. I am praying that our weekly / bi-weekly hair rituals will bond us over the coming years. Gasp! There may come a time when my daughter doesn’t want her old-fashioned Momma anywhere near her hair. Wow. I am grateful for our time together.

Hair bonding


Image found at: http://madamenoire.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/black-church-mother-daughter-praying.jpg


Last night I took out the majority of my daughter’s cornrows (remember, the nightmare African Braiding Salon we visited?). Today, I’m trying out a new stylist who comes highly recommended (thanks Stephanie!). I am hoping that we have a much better experience this time around; I’ll be sure to share!


While removing the cornrows from my daughter’s hair I was transported back to the many floors, rugs and pillows I sat on as a little girl while my Mom braided or unbraided my hair. I was a bit overwhelmed by the fact that I am now someone’s Momma doing her hair (isn’t it weird how those moments happen every now and then?!). As I brushed through my daughter’s hair, I felt a surge of love for her. I want her to understand that her hair is part of who she is but is not her essence. I want her to see how bright, beautiful and loving she is. I tried to be gentle as I coaxed out tangles and knots. Have to get better at that. Sometimes I still revert back to the thought that she’s “just tender-headed”. But, I know I just need to be more tender-hearted. I am praying that our weekly / bi-weekly hair rituals will bond us over the coming years. Gasp! There may come a time when my daughter doesn’t want her old-fashioned Momma anywhere near her hair. Wow. I am grateful for our time together.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer’s Eve Advertisement


Image found at: http://cdn1.newsone.com/files/2011/07/Picture-4-300x170.png


I’m surfing along looking for interesting hair/identity news when I come across the above image. Now, what does that look like to you? To me, it looked like a head of curly, kinky hair (a really nice twist out if you will) with a black fist representing a woman’s face. If you agree with me, you’d be wrong. It turns out that Summer’s Eve, a brand of feminine hygiene products, has released another commercial in its recent installment of “hip” advertisements. I won’t say anymore, just watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DcFjbELeW0.


After you’ve watched the link, please tell me what you think of the advertisement. When you leave your comments, please indicate that it’s okay for me to post your comments (let me know if you want your online name to appear or not). I think that this could generate some interesting conversation. Looking forward to it! Please email, retweet, and pass this post along. I’d love to get a lot of folks involved. Thanks!

Summer’s Eve Advertisement


Image found at: http://cdn1.newsone.com/files/2011/07/Picture-4-300x170.png


I’m surfing along looking for interesting hair/identity news when I come across the above image. Now, what does that look like to you? To me, it looked like a head of curly, kinky hair (a really nice twist out if you will) with a black fist representing a woman’s face. If you agree with me, you’d be wrong. It turns out that Summer’s Eve, a brand of feminine hygiene products, has released another commercial in its recent installment of “hip” advertisements. I won’t say anymore, just watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DcFjbELeW0.


After you’ve watched the link, please tell me what you think of the advertisement. When you leave your comments, please indicate that it’s okay for me to post your comments (let me know if you want your online name to appear or not). I think that this could generate some interesting conversation. Looking forward to it! Please email, retweet, and pass this post along. I’d love to get a lot of folks involved. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Our Hair Connects Us


Image found at: http://www.uswc.org/Graphics/circle5.JPG


One thing that I love about blogging is that you get a chance to learn about, meet and talk to people from all over the world. I recently came across “My bald patch led to a thriving UK natural hair community” by Angel Smith (http://peoplewithvoices.com/2011/07/18/my-bald-patch-led-to-a-thriving-uk-natural-hair-community/).


Here in the United States it is easy to forget that we have many more resources at our fingertips than do others around the world. For example, Ms. Smith shared that when she experienced a bald spot after years of relaxers she found a dearth of resources in her UK home area. However, she didn’t complain, she did something about it by founding a natural hair community complete with a hair blog (http://www.thenaturallounge.com/) and hosted hair events.


Reading Ms. Smith’s article reminded me that embracing our natural selves is something that women around the world pursue. Here’s to helping each other on our quest. Plus, I'm thinking that this may be a good way for me to educate myself about difference around the world. I would love to get to know more about different hair perspectives around the world. Hmm, when I have free time (whoops, nothing will ever happen if I wait for that) I will look into this!


P.S.: I am in the process of researching resources to help us teach children about difference (e.g., interracial, appearance, etc.). I will keep you posted; please share any thoughts that you may have.

Our Hair Connects Us


Image found at: http://www.uswc.org/Graphics/circle5.JPG


One thing that I love about blogging is that you get a chance to learn about, meet and talk to people from all over the world. I recently came across “My bald patch led to a thriving UK natural hair community” by Angel Smith (http://peoplewithvoices.com/2011/07/18/my-bald-patch-led-to-a-thriving-uk-natural-hair-community/).


Here in the United States it is easy to forget that we have many more resources at our fingertips than do others around the world. For example, Ms. Smith shared that when she experienced a bald spot after years of relaxers she found a dearth of resources in her UK home area. However, she didn’t complain, she did something about it by founding a natural hair community complete with a hair blog (http://www.thenaturallounge.com/) and hosted hair events.


Reading Ms. Smith’s article reminded me that embracing our natural selves is something that women around the world pursue. Here’s to helping each other on our quest. Plus, I'm thinking that this may be a good way for me to educate myself about difference around the world. I would love to get to know more about different hair perspectives around the world. Hmm, when I have free time (whoops, nothing will ever happen if I wait for that) I will look into this!


P.S.: I am in the process of researching resources to help us teach children about difference (e.g., interracial, appearance, etc.). I will keep you posted; please share any thoughts that you may have.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Interracial Friendship: How do we learn?

I continue to be amazed by the huge response to the topic of interracial friendship and how to talk to our children about difference. An excerpt from one reader's post expresses concern about discussing the topic because while children are inquisitive adults shouldn’t be asking questions:


“Let me explain. First, children are very inquisitive. They are constantly in search of knowledge and basic understandings about life. Hence, asking questions or differentiating between two things, helps them make sense of their world. Without this ability, children will not be able to learn right/wrong, appropriate/inappropriate. While asking, "if you are black?" may seem like a harmful question, I think given the context, it may have just been an exploratory question that could have been a teachable moment, not only for your kids, but for the person asking the question.

However, I think question asking should be only be for children. I have no idea why adults are asking questions that aren't even relevant, such as "Is that your real hair?" That question is loaded and not even important. Questions like that, I feel, are inappropriate. As an adult, we should ask questions that are appropriate given the context. I dislike when people assume "you do things differently" because of your skin color. I dislike assumptions that are made, and then carried out through questions. Specifically questions that originate from stereotypes, which I think most adults seek to confirm/disconfirm through question asking. People should think first, "Am I asking a question that is based upon a stereotype?," "Am I making assumptions?," "Is this question relevant?" IF not, the question should not be asked.”


I think the reader raises very good points. A few questions: SHOULD adults just know better? How do you address the fact that even in 2011 many people grow up in segregated environments and may not know much about peoples of other ethnicities? What do you all think? Also, what resources have you all used to educate yourselves about difference? Any resources you’d recommend for children?

Interracial Friendship: How do we learn?

I continue to be amazed by the huge response to the topic of interracial friendship and how to talk to our children about difference. An excerpt from one reader's post expresses concern about discussing the topic because while children are inquisitive adults shouldn’t be asking questions:


“Let me explain. First, children are very inquisitive. They are constantly in search of knowledge and basic understandings about life. Hence, asking questions or differentiating between two things, helps them make sense of their world. Without this ability, children will not be able to learn right/wrong, appropriate/inappropriate. While asking, "if you are black?" may seem like a harmful question, I think given the context, it may have just been an exploratory question that could have been a teachable moment, not only for your kids, but for the person asking the question.

However, I think question asking should be only be for children. I have no idea why adults are asking questions that aren't even relevant, such as "Is that your real hair?" That question is loaded and not even important. Questions like that, I feel, are inappropriate. As an adult, we should ask questions that are appropriate given the context. I dislike when people assume "you do things differently" because of your skin color. I dislike assumptions that are made, and then carried out through questions. Specifically questions that originate from stereotypes, which I think most adults seek to confirm/disconfirm through question asking. People should think first, "Am I asking a question that is based upon a stereotype?," "Am I making assumptions?," "Is this question relevant?" IF not, the question should not be asked.”


I think the reader raises very good points. A few questions: SHOULD adults just know better? How do you address the fact that even in 2011 many people grow up in segregated environments and may not know much about peoples of other ethnicities? What do you all think? Also, what resources have you all used to educate yourselves about difference? Any resources you’d recommend for children?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Interracial Friendship: Think Before You Ask


Image found at: http://lifewithbrucebackman.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/communication-difficult-for-men.jpg


I think our recent discussion about interracial friendship has struck a collective nerve because I’ve never received as many emails and comments as I have about this topic. So, while the topic is larger than hair and identity, I’ll keep blogging about it! The interesting thing is that many of the comments reflect discomfort about WHAT to say. Because of that, folks may not say anything. On the other hand, a lack of thoughtfulness can cause people to make hurtful comments. Below I’ve copied what I hope is an insightful exchange about how we can learn to talk about our differences. The conversation took place last night / this morning:


Blog reader: Thank you for sharing. You know I've struggled over the years of what questions to ask and how to ask questions. Your post about teaching children to ask questions reminds me of the many times my students are whispering among themselves. It turns out they are just afraid to ask me a question about me that is "racially" based. I think if we continue to remain afraid to ask questions about each other then we prevent moving forward and beyond race.

Tina: Agreed, thanks for your comment. There is a way to ask questions. All too often people ask very ignorant, hurtful questions and cause incredible damage. My point is not to never ask questions but to educate yourself and be sensitive when you do ask questions. Also, it would help to ask questions of people with whom you share a bond. It is inappropriate for a stranger to ask me, "Is that your real hair?" That is private and none of their business. Plus, if they got to know me they'd soon learn about my hair for one and many other things. See the difference? I think people just haul off and say / ask things without thinking through the repercussions.

After a few additional moments of reflection, I added this:


Tina: something else just struck me. When we value someone and want to ask questions, we prepare our questions beforehand. For example, if I want to ask Fred, my parents, my sisters, friends, my boss, a student something, I don't just let whatever comes to my mind come out (usually!). This is because I want my question to be thoughtful. I think part of what rubs me the wrong way is that many of the ignorant questions I've been asked reflect a lack of preparation and forethought. In such a situation am I being valued as a person or merely being viewed as a curiosity to be explored? I can tell you that it feels like the latter. I also don't see a need to move beyond race. Would we say move beyond gender? I don't think so. If what you mean is that we need to get to a point where people are judged based on their behavior, character, etc. I agree wholeheartedly. But, I am opposed to the notion of a post-racial society as I just don't think that will ever exist. Why might God have created different hues in the first place? They are beautiful we just have to learn how to value each other.


What do you think? I’d love to hear from people who have alternative points of view. I think sharing our unique opinions will help us develop a community of understanding. God knows we need that in this society where vitriol often rules the day.

Interracial Friendship: Think Before You Ask


Image found at: http://lifewithbrucebackman.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/communication-difficult-for-men.jpg


I think our recent discussion about interracial friendship has struck a collective nerve because I’ve never received as many emails and comments as I have about this topic. So, while the topic is larger than hair and identity, I’ll keep blogging about it! The interesting thing is that many of the comments reflect discomfort about WHAT to say. Because of that, folks may not say anything. On the other hand, a lack of thoughtfulness can cause people to make hurtful comments. Below I’ve copied what I hope is an insightful exchange about how we can learn to talk about our differences. The conversation took place last night / this morning:


Blog reader: Thank you for sharing. You know I've struggled over the years of what questions to ask and how to ask questions. Your post about teaching children to ask questions reminds me of the many times my students are whispering among themselves. It turns out they are just afraid to ask me a question about me that is "racially" based. I think if we continue to remain afraid to ask questions about each other then we prevent moving forward and beyond race.

Tina: Agreed, thanks for your comment. There is a way to ask questions. All too often people ask very ignorant, hurtful questions and cause incredible damage. My point is not to never ask questions but to educate yourself and be sensitive when you do ask questions. Also, it would help to ask questions of people with whom you share a bond. It is inappropriate for a stranger to ask me, "Is that your real hair?" That is private and none of their business. Plus, if they got to know me they'd soon learn about my hair for one and many other things. See the difference? I think people just haul off and say / ask things without thinking through the repercussions.

After a few additional moments of reflection, I added this:


Tina: something else just struck me. When we value someone and want to ask questions, we prepare our questions beforehand. For example, if I want to ask Fred, my parents, my sisters, friends, my boss, a student something, I don't just let whatever comes to my mind come out (usually!). This is because I want my question to be thoughtful. I think part of what rubs me the wrong way is that many of the ignorant questions I've been asked reflect a lack of preparation and forethought. In such a situation am I being valued as a person or merely being viewed as a curiosity to be explored? I can tell you that it feels like the latter. I also don't see a need to move beyond race. Would we say move beyond gender? I don't think so. If what you mean is that we need to get to a point where people are judged based on their behavior, character, etc. I agree wholeheartedly. But, I am opposed to the notion of a post-racial society as I just don't think that will ever exist. Why might God have created different hues in the first place? They are beautiful we just have to learn how to value each other.


What do you think? I’d love to hear from people who have alternative points of view. I think sharing our unique opinions will help us develop a community of understanding. God knows we need that in this society where vitriol often rules the day.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Interracial Friendship: How to Move Forward?


Image found at: http://youknowdamnwell.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/whiteblackhand.jpg


I’ve gotten even more responses to my recent discussion about interracial friendship. Here’s an excerpt from a comment that I posted in response to some thought-provoking feedback I received:


“Hi there Bliv! Yes, I think I messed up on this one. While I calmed myself, I did respond out of emotion a bit. Thank you so much for talking about your experience with your brother's best friend. Yes, it is good that that they responded with laughter. Question for you, is there ever a time when laughter is NOT an appropriate response? When might other responses (what could they be) be more appropriate? I think I get fatigued when I think that I should laugh in situations where I feel like people should really REALLY know better (especially in work settings). In fact, it seems like the flubs, goofs, insensitive comments are often coming from majority group members rather than the other way around. I guess I just want folks to take sensitivity training so that I don't have to bear the brunt of their curiosity, ignorance, etc.


What do you all think? Do majority group members bear responsibility for educating themselves about issues about difference? What would that look like? Should minority group members grin and bear it? Are we just being too sensitive? Why or why not? Do you have personal stories that relate to these questions? Please share.


This is much bigger than the topic of hair (my husband is going to chastise me for that, I can hear him saying, “T, stay on point!”) but I think it gets at the root (pardon the pun) of why I discuss hair and identity to begin with. My kinky, nappy, coily, loced hair is different than the hair of the majority of the people I grew up around. I am on a quest to find out how that difference (among others) manifests in terms of how I identify, how I feel about myself and others, how I interact with others, etc.


Also, several of you have contacted me via email or FaceBook to inform me that you’re having difficulty posting your comments on my blog. Please don’t give up! I’m working to figure o
ut what's going on and I'll post information once I have it. Thanks for your patience and interest; it means a lot!

Interracial Friendship: How to Move Forward?


Image found at: http://youknowdamnwell.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/whiteblackhand.jpg


I’ve gotten even more responses to my recent discussion about interracial friendship. Here’s an excerpt from a comment that I posted in response to some thought-provoking feedback I received:


“Hi there Bliv! Yes, I think I messed up on this one. While I calmed myself, I did respond out of emotion a bit. Thank you so much for talking about your experience with your brother's best friend. Yes, it is good that that they responded with laughter. Question for you, is there ever a time when laughter is NOT an appropriate response? When might other responses (what could they be) be more appropriate? I think I get fatigued when I think that I should laugh in situations where I feel like people should really REALLY know better (especially in work settings). In fact, it seems like the flubs, goofs, insensitive comments are often coming from majority group members rather than the other way around. I guess I just want folks to take sensitivity training so that I don't have to bear the brunt of their curiosity, ignorance, etc.


What do you all think? Do majority group members bear responsibility for educating themselves about issues about difference? What would that look like? Should minority group members grin and bear it? Are we just being too sensitive? Why or why not? Do you have personal stories that relate to these questions? Please share.


This is much bigger than the topic of hair (my husband is going to chastise me for that, I can hear him saying, “T, stay on point!”) but I think it gets at the root (pardon the pun) of why I discuss hair and identity to begin with. My kinky, nappy, coily, loced hair is different than the hair of the majority of the people I grew up around. I am on a quest to find out how that difference (among others) manifests in terms of how I identify, how I feel about myself and others, how I interact with others, etc.


Also, several of you have contacted me via email or FaceBook to inform me that you’re having difficulty posting your comments on my blog. Please don’t give up! I’m working to figure o
ut what's going on and I'll post information once I have it. Thanks for your patience and interest; it means a lot!