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Black Women and the Fear of Natural, Nappy Hair

Wigs, weaves, extensions and chemical relaxers are examples of how hair is socially, psychologically, and culturally significant to the black female experience
By The Star.com
As a black woman living in Canada, I often feel invisible when it comes to my natural hair. The television series da Kink In My Hair (which just wrapped up its first season on Global television) taps into a lot of the issues black women have with hair, but on the streets of Toronto, it’s a whole other story.

Some people might be offended by what I have to say, and others might think: “It’s just hair. Get a life.” Fair enough. But, since freeing myself from the dependency of chemically relaxing my hair every eight weeks, I feel it important to use my voice.

Too many black women can’t remember what it’s like to feel their natural hair. I know several, who have not felt their scalp since Bobby Brown was a member of New Edition. And I have sat in hair salons with women who spend more money on their hair than their education.

I also know a lot of black women who secretly want to go natural, but fear the reaction at work, what their family will say, even that their partner will leave them. If hair is just hair, you’d think going natural would be just as easy as processing your hair.

Then there are weaves, a process by which synthetic or real hair is sewn into one’s natural hair to give the appearance of long, flowing, straight hair. While many women, irrespective of race, wear weaves (they’re common in Hollywood), black women wear them to cover up, not merely enhance, their natural state.

Talk about hair is so woven into the black female experience that people often make jokes about who has “good hair” and who has “bad hair.” In the song “I Am Not My Hair,” India Aries sings, “Good hair means curls and waves/Bad hair means you look like a slave.” A lot of people might not have a clue as to what she’s talking about, but, as a black woman, I sure do. Continue reading

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The Debate over Afrocentric Schools in Canada

‘‘Black school is segregation. Martin Luther King and how many of our fathers fought to come together, so blacks and whites could be together. Sitting at the front of the bus together. This is 2008. Please. What we’re doing is segregating each other. – Loreen Small, Jordan Manners’ mother, to the Toronto District School Board on Tuesday night.

Living in America I can’t say I agree with that. I feel that Afrocentric, all black schools can help some students, especially those students who come from communities where they only encounter blacks and other minorities in 70% of their day to day life. For example, I’ve lived in communities on the east coast where I could go all day (especially on a weekend) and see less than 2 white people all day. Many children need are not socialized by the black community with regard to functioning in integrated environments. They need a strong sense of identity and to be taught there history, so that they won’t become victims of assimilation. Many times black children only identify with current black culture, because that’s all they are taught. If these children can learn of their whole selves, their whole history, they can then be socialized to deal with the greater, diverse culture. They will understand that they have a rich, important history. They will understand their unique and beautiful place in the world. From that perspective, many children will be able to better integrate when they move on from an Afrocentric school, in my opinion. However, having said this…I know that just because a student attends an Afrocentric school doesn’t mean they will gain the type of perspective I’m talking about. That really takes a holistic approach…family, community, schools, spiritual life, etc. I certainly would not assume that a “black only” school would be an “answer” for Black Canadian children, especially if the black community and experts are not in control of it’s creation. Continue reading

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Doesn’t the NHL Know About Black Folk and Hockey?

There was a joke I heard a while back.

Q.Why don’t black people play hockey?
A. Cause no black person is going to be trying to run from a bunch of white folks with sticks on ice.

You can’t run on ice and most blacks can’t ice skate. It’s like black women who wear perms and swimming…not a good match. Well, the NHL wants some of that black consumer pie and is making a bid to bring in black fans in Atlanta. There was a time when tennis and golf were not followed by the black community, when black folks didn’t care because they didn’t see themselves on the green or on the court. Arthur Ashe, Althea Gibson, Venus Williams, and Tiger Woods had a lot to do with that. If the NHL wants black ticket payers…they need black star players. I live in Washington, DC and one of the city’s biggest ice skating rinks (if not the only one) is in a majority black “hood” in SE, but you wouldn’t know it. Outside of organized events, community centers/programs, etc…black folks are not using it in droves. There’s no all black hockey team operating out of it, but there are plenty of black, athletic kids in the city who could play on one. Interesting, isn’t it. I wonder how many African American kids are playing hockey? How many black fans are there in the seats at NHL games?

National Post – This has always been the great black city. The population is more than 60% African American, and even today, the seeds sewn by Atlanta native Martin Luther King are seen everywhere.

So it was the perfect place Friday for a luncheon commemorating the 50th anniversary of Willie O’Ree’s arrival as the first black man to play in the National Hockey League.

Whoopi Goldberg sent a video tribute. Giant posters of Jarome Iginla, Mike Grier, Georges Laraque, Tony McKegney, Grant Fuhr, Ray Emery and Kevin Weekes served as a backdrop for National Hockey League’s very public wooing of its largest, untapped demographic in the United States. Here yesterday, they celebrated the Colored Hockey League of Nova Scotia, where families who escaped slavery in the south on the Underground Railroad played hockey, one of Canadian history’s more poorly recorded facts. Continue reading

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