But your hair is so beautiful…

But your hair is so beautiful…

Black Women of Brazil

Stephanie Paes (orginally published on 2013-06-12 as “Mas seu cabelo é tão bonito…” in Falando sem permissão)

I know that it is. And only I understand the time I needed to take account of this (1).

My hair is crespo (curly/kinky). It has gone through several phases (natural and later chemical changes), but it never stopped being crespo. When I was a kid it had little curls and was huge, until the sad night in which my mother, tired after a day of work and not managing to detangle my ends, silently took scissors and cut my curls without telling me. After that my hair started to change, I don’t know if it was because of cutting it or because hormonal influences, but it never ceased to be what it is: Crespo

…What I hear now, with one or another variation is the following sentence: “Your hair is so beautiful! It’s a little cacheadinho (curly), not those ugly naps.”

What is the problem with this sentence?

  1. Slandering a phenotypic characteristic of my race, you are slandering me. It doesn’t matter if you think that because my hair has a looser curl that it automatically ceases to be crespo. In fact, even if my hair was naturally straight, I don’t cease being black, and you would still be slandering me.
  2. By exalting a feature that makes clear my miscegenation (racial mixture) and not allowing the black phenotype to be manifested completely, you are valuing my embranquecimento (white attributes). I’m not saying it’s bad to have a non-black feature, I’m saying that when you use it to say that my hair is better than another more genuinely kinky, you’re being racist…

Read the entire article here.

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