Loc Stereotypes and Discrimination

An excerpt from, “The Secret to Luscious Locs”

(Second Edition. Currently available on Amazon.com)

One of the reasons hair straightening became so mainstream in the black community is because even after slavery ended, internal colorism remained. Many black women still believed in European features being superior and that being closer to white meant more opportunities and better treatment from both races.

There became an obsession with “good hair” and light skin. Hair straightening and skin bleaching thus became popular.

Is there a double-standard when it comes to black men, black women, and natural hair?

From the seventies onwards, Black men have rock their afro-textured hair without qualms because, as men, society does not go out of their way to make them feel bad about it. Also, nowadays, when it comes to black men, darker skin is even viewed as more attractive than lighter skin.

When it comes to black women, however, some black men have a preference for light-skinned “exotic-looking” women with wavy or curly hair (a.k.a “good hair).  Recently, some have been glorifying this preference publicly (e.g. J. Cole, Kodak Black, and Kevin Hart), getting backlash for it, and continuing to do it.

It goes back to European beauty standards. They may find other black women attractive, but this mixed or exotic-type of female is the ultimate trophy. When these black men see black women with “nappy” hair rockin’ their natural hair PROUDLY, it makes them uneasy because they see hair that is not so-called “good hair” as unacceptable. They think to themselves, “Why would a woman choose to rock their hair that way?” while praising women with wavy or curly hair who rock their hair naturally. I feel like physical preferences are a personal thing. They do not need to be vocalized and you definitely should not be putting someone else down to make your point.

A woman with afro-textured hair may choose to wear her hair straight, not because she has self-esteem or self-hatred issues but because she wishes to assimilate into what the rest of society is doing. No blame there.

I came across a statement on Twitter a few years back, “Over 85% of Women Who Transition to Natural Hair Are Making the Biggest Mistake of Their Lives” and it still bothers me. Right away, I know that this man is inferring that only black women with noticeably wavy or curly-textured hair (the 15%) should be rockin’ their hair natural.

Going natural does not mean that men will not be attracted to you. Some naturals notice that they attract a certain type of man (more earthy, artistic, afro-centric), while others, like me, see no change in the type of men they attract but may get noticed more often because they simply stand out more, and are sometimes approached in a different manner as well.

Do not let anyone — black, white, or other — deter you from doing what you know is right for you. If you’re beautiful, you’re beautiful (and I mean inside and out). What you choose to do with your hair does not alter that.

The “natural hair revolution” that began several years back showed that black hair in its natural state was not something unmanageable and could be worn in a variety of beautiful styles.

Many naturalistas took to the internet to demonstrate how to create these styles so that many women at home could do the same.

It’s now common place to see women rocking afros, braided styles, twists, twist-outs, bantu knots, and locs on a regular basis.

When it comes to locs, depending on who you are and what your locs look like, you could garner a lot of – sometimes unwanted – attention. I consider myself a bit of an introvert and it took me literally years to accept that people were going to look at and comment on my hair almost every time I left the house.

Locs also come with stereotypes (e.g. Rastafarianism, marijuana use, being Jamaican, listening to reggae, being overly laidback, etc.) so I had to learn not to be so sensitive and get offended when people ask me if I’m Jamaican or call out Rasta or Rasta Girl as I walk by.

One thing that I want to clarify is that I do not consider myself Rasta. Although I identify strongly with the lifestyle and belief system, I do not wish to be labeled and put into a box. Instead, I am inspired by bits of the Rasta culture.

For me, locs are an outward expression of:  racial pride, clean eating, love of nature, and positive living. Starting locs helped me embrace some of the values I always carried within but never had the tools or strength to act on.

Just recently, it came to light that a young woman named Chastity Jones had been hired by an Alabama insurance claims company in 2010, when that same company rescinded the job offer. Chastity asked why and a human resources representative reportedly told her that it was because of her locs, claiming that they “tend to get messy.”

She filed a lawsuit in 2013 on the grounds of racial discrimination and just recently was ruled against. It was deemed not to be a form of racial discrimination. Employers can now legally discriminate against employees who have locs!

This is a prime example of ignorance regarding locs. All hair tends to get messy if not properly maintained. This company knew nothing about loc maintenance or Chasity’s personal grooming habits. This hiring officer acted on her own personal prejudice. Some people believe to this day that locs cannot be washed, which – I’m sure you know — is false!

Some people associate locs with an image of Bob Marley’s because they simply don’t see a lot of locs.

You’ll see that locs are as versatile as they are beautiful…

Read more here.

 

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