Friday, April 07, 2006

'Girrrl, did you see her head?'

Headlining today’s Washingtonpost.com home page comes:
Fashion
Why a Hairstyle Made Headlines
This piece by Washington Post staff writer Robin Givhan intimates that the Congresswoman was accosted by the Capital Policeman because the officer was too racially insensitive to notice that McKinney was having a bad hair day.
When Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) summoned the media to Howard University last week to tell her side of the story in an altercation with a Capitol Police officer, she assumed the traditional news conference position behind a podium and a bank of microphones.

She stood there wearing a coral-colored jacket and dangling earrings and raising the serious issue of racial injustice. But it was impossible not to stare at her hair. As your plainspoken mother might say, it appeared to be standing all over her head.

McKinney, perspiring lightly, talked about having been stopped, touched and disrespected by the officer. The congresswoman, who is African American, suggested that the police officer, who is white, had engaged in racial profiling. He has alleged that she struck him with her cellphone…[Ed. – the italics above are mine]

Everyone has a bad hair day, whether it is straight hair that goes limp, curls that turn frizzy or kinky hair that becomes unruly. So it would be reasonable to think that McKinney's hairdo should not have elicited anything more than a shrug or a knowing and sympathetic whisper among black women, "Girrrl, did you see her head?"

Instead, talk turned ugly on blogs about her news-conference hair. It became the impetus for all sorts of racially driven insults about her locks and their natural texture. A black woman's hair is an easy, timeworn source of racist mockery. It has become an exhausting cliche of self-loathing whether it is kinky, hot-combed, braided, locked or chemically relaxed. (Indeed, plenty of black folks see all kinds of dire race-traitor undertones in Condoleezza Rice's smooth, controlled cap of hair.) A black woman's hair is a bottomless source of inspiration for essays, books and documentaries.

This tripe goes on for 1,000 words and one wonders whether Ms. Givhan’s hair may be growing into, rather than out of, her head.

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