For every justified uproar over maltreatment towards people of color in America, often enough, black individuals can be their own worst enemies. By entertaining stupid hashtags like #teamlightskin and uploading videos and producing websites in which black men and black women utterly taking each other to the cleaners, the divide in recent times has gotten so painful in the black community, recurrently it has lead to black writers, and especially black female writers penning afflicted Op-Eds, as the founder of ForHarriet.com did, Kimberly Foster, with her piece, “Why I Will Not March for Eric Garner”.
As anyone may already know, black or not, hair is a major and sensitive topic in circles of color. Though the natural hair revival has been wonderful to see, as many women have chosen to finally embrace themselves in a kind of I Remember Me, God makes no mistakes stance, still at times there remains a battle.
The battle comes from the black community themselves and while sometimes it feels as if our Caucasian counterparts are no help in pushing the ideas that if one assimilates they will go further in life or at best be tolerated, black people alone attack each other so much when it comes to our physical attributes, our image of self-love has been distorted when translated to the media and curious voyeurs. When wigs and weaves were worn, it was unfairly assumed a black woman hated herself or was “trying to be white” as both assumptions are hurtful. The pressure is real and for too long, even if synthetic additions were worn it’d be the cheapest of the worst just to feel beautiful which in this case is an artificial experience. Movies, books, and television segments and articles have all tackled why hair in the black community is both detrimental and empowering for its women. While such a specific stigma of why one would even choose to wear fake hair has faltered a tad (with wigs and weaves more advanced than ever for black and white women), emotional cases are still being caught and negative connotations of hair that is not “soft”, long, or loosely waved or curled are seen celebrated and this is perpetuated by some ignorant men of color who choose to date inter-racially because of hair textures alone while we see more and more Afrocentric black girls with open-minded white men. If white people only knew the vitriol black people throw each other, and social media today exacerbates these mental beatdowns. You’ve probably seen the memes.
In relation to all of this, the debacle of the tacky Blue Ivy hair joke spoke during an episode of 106 and Park has exposed the hypocrisy of the discussion of hair amongst black people. The cable network BET (Black Entertainment Television) and model Karrueche Tran came under fire for including a line as a part of their cheesy segment about the recently aired MTV Video Music Awards about what the first born of Beyonce and Jay Z, her being Blue Ivy, thought during her debut at the annual award show. Tran was given the unfortunate moment to say this live on TV:
“I really did wake up like this because my parents didn’t comb my hair”. She then added, “Sorry Blue, I love you!”
Immediately, Tran was attacked on Twitter and eventually the network BET and its show 106 and Park, but especially Tran who already receives regular acidity on social media despite her 1 million followers on Instagram and of course her off/on connection to singer Chris Brown. The tweets and comments were more out of order than usual for Tran and the model even read actual death threats sent to her and mockery of her half Vietnamese background and apparent irrelevancy.
There are a few things that are interesting about this Blue Ivy hair-gate. BET was in the absolute wrong for thinking even including a joke about a child’s hair was funny, but BET was not the first to do so, and the commentary since Blue Ivy’s toddler days have been from black people, the same black people that insisted Tran fall off the face of the earth.
As more pics were released of Blue when out and about with her parents in the past, when popular black gossip sites like TheYBF, Necole Bitchie, and Bossip posted them, right there for the world to see in the always potentially inflammatory comments sections a boatload of unnecessary comments about how her parents-Beyonce and Jay Z-don’t or need to comb her hair, or “do something with it”. This has been happening for months and it nearly became cliche. It truly exposed the other side of while it’s already hard out there for African-Americans and people of color in America (always feeling the pressure to acquiesce in some shape or form), attacking Blue Ivy’s beautiful pouf, puff, Afro hair has been a problem in black popular culture and displays the hypocrisy of black commentary in America. Neo-soul singer India.Arie even felt compelled to pen an essay in defense of Blue’s natural hair and in denouncing how terrible it was that grown adults were taking the time to belittle a child, and that the battle over what is good or bad hair needs to leave our consciousness. Right before Arie wrote her letter, there was also a petition on Change.org, started by a Brooklyn resident and with 5, 629 supporters as of August 27, 2014 to “convince” Blue Ivy’s parents to comb her hair, and some lesser known singers also shared unnecessary “insights” about Ivy’s tresses.
How is it that when Necole Bitchie did post about Beyonce holding Blue en route to an airport black observers of pop culture found it plausible to write “she needs a perm”, ” she needs a comb”, “Lawd chile do something with that girl’s hair”, but ALL OF A SUDDEN want to come to the defense of Blue when your sitting behind a computer hate found its way to the airwaves. What’s so different? Are you defending Blue from BET’s tasteless joke and attacking Tran with threats and insults because you really found it deplorable to make fun of a child and their hair, or anyone’s naturally hair for that matter, or were you just defending Blue Ivy Carter because of who her parents are?
The fake altruism has got to go. You can attack BET for their lame attempt, but some of those same Beyonce #BeyHive fans were the same ones going on gossip sites saying Ivy needs her hair done. Of course, not every critic of BET were spewing attacks just to do it, some people were both Beyonce fans and believe in the beauty of natural hair, it seems as though many just wanted to jump on the bandwagon as MTV had seemingly won in getting a mini concert from Beyonce as she and Jay were not present as this summer’s earlier BET Awards event. The hypocrisy is heavy because a petition to change Blue Ivy haircare and even the flood of comments about her at all wouldn’t have made to the producers of BET if these so called fans and followers of black gossip didn’t spew this hate in the first place. Our own community started this and it’s time we stop the bullshit. Don’t defend Blue Ivy because she’s Beyonce and Jay Z’s daughter. Defend her because her hair in its 100% natural state is beautiful, and defend her because black is beautiful, whether light, brown, or dark skin, with straight, kinky, short, or longer hair; or black, auburn or dyed color, and anything else we’ve allowed to break each other down apart. We may expect more from the children of celebrities when it comes to appearance or their privilege, attacking our own community when it comes to our hair and skin needs to eradicated. May Blue Ivy enjoy her youth, beautiful “naps” and all.