Relaxed hair verses natural hair

As a young girl growing up in Tottenham, my mother used to ‘press’ my hair. Because it was unusually long (I’m quite dark skinned so it was considered an anomaly), it didn’t make me popular amongst my black peers and of course, to white girls I was still black. But my mother insisted that I should ‘straighten’ my hair because it was time consuming if it was kept natural, and because she wanted to show me off to her friends. And in those days you didn’t challenge your parents. I was supposed to be proud of being blessed in this way but I was not. It just left me miserable. The key thing is how we, black women, so much despised who we were and our looks and wanted so much to be white – I included, even though I was not exempt by having long hair. However I do remember teachers, and some white girls commending me that I had the ‘best looking hair that they have seen a black girl’ but ‘compliments’ could only take me so far.

And of course there are the practicalities of having long straightened black hair: running out of the rain or keeping away from anything that resembles water; retouching the virgin bits of hair every three months; hair gradually falling out due to chemical left on too long or the weight of the hair being too heavy (??); when they style that you’ve worked so hard to resemble (in those days it was Farah Fawcett-Majors just ends up looking too dry and sticking out, then the whole thing is defeated.

Some thirty years on, I constantly keep my hair in braids/extensions and really love my look (after all black skin does age well). But the fight now is to convince my daughter that she should keep her hair in braids but she wants to relax her hair and look like Raven! I guess it will always be a fight to make sure that black skin/hair is fairly presented along side with long flowing curls.

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Cut the guy some slack please – Julius Malema v Deborah Patta

I read the article A Firebrand Leader in the Making in today’s British Guardian.  Before reading the blog, one of the bloggers inserted the YouTube clip which features the South African presenter Deborah Patta interviewing Julius Malema, leader of the ANC Youth league. I normally complain about how blacks are treated in the British media but viewing this clip, I’ve not come across anything as patronizing and contemptuous as this.

The presenter says in her intro that he is seen as a ‘buffoon’ and that it should be put to the ‘test’.  Of course the whole point of the programme is for her to take the mick and to make him look a fool.  The interesting thing is he comes across as a gentleman and does not rise to the bait. 

Fine, he is not articulate (maybe English is not his first language!) and maybe he does not have a degree in Sociology so that he can give us a clear cut definition of class and where he thinks he belongs. But do we really expect him to get it 100% right!   The white working class (British) moved out in droves to this new land in hope to emulate the lifestyles of their ‘betters’ in the old country but having lived in South Africa myself I was surprised, no shocked, in how the WWC lived in their big houses and pools with scared and anxious domestic staff. And yet the WWC managed to occupy management positions without having any qualifications whatsoever! Yeah maybe I was a tad jealous as I know occupying such positions back in the UK would have been impossible without qualifications so if you guys were able to get away with that, I don’t think it’s fair that you should expect much more from Malema. 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/dec/03/julius-malema-south-africa-leader