Thursday, February 12, 2009

Its just hair.....

I'm a law student.  So anyone that knows me knows I love a good argument. But what drives me crazy is when someone acts as if because something does not affect them, it really must not affect anyone else. My last post was linked to a much larger forum and received quite a lot of differing opinions. I must say I have gained a different perspective from my fellow PAP's. I am not saying all Black mom's have hair figured out and that White mom's don't. Come on clearly my Mom missed the hair lesson given to all new mothers at new mother school. But I do think that when we are raising Black boys in White America and Black girls in White America we MUST consider what works best for them. Lets face it, we all want to just fit in... (well most of us anyway). I posted this in part on the forum. I'm sure it will not be well received. But I wanted to share it here as well.

For those who actually read my post, I put a picture of my brother. A few days ago my college educated brother, who has lived on 4 continents and is an accomplished musician, doesn't sag (pants) and was walking along a very diverse street in Manhattan, was stopped by an undercover police officer, questioned and basically badgered because he "fit the profile". After refusing to answer any questions, submit to any search and demanding an explanation, he was "released" and "allowed" to go on his way. Humiliated, is possibly the best word to describe how he felt. Could it happen to anyone? Absolutely. Did he get a chance to explain that he is not African American but perhaps Ethiopian...Nope. Bottom line for me is this: Will he come home and get the necessary support and understanding that he needs in order to dust his self off and go into the big bad world again tomorrow or will he be met with opposition by those who don't want to believe that IT does matter. That you have to really consider what you are doing to possibly add to the issues that is faced everyday by being Black in America.

and because you know I love pictures. I wanted to share this most current one of my brother.....

Needless to say I was heartbroken.  And he looks crazy without all those luscious locs!!!




  1. Great post. ahhh man...I thought your brother looked hot in those locs!!!!!! Oh, he is still handsome but those locs were hotttt on him.

  2. Robbin- I apologize. I thought by linking to your insightful post I would be helping folks to learn more. It seems like there is a hullaballoo now, and I am sorry. I didn't know much about Locs, and certainly didn't consider that they might mean something negative. I continue to appreciate You and Your Blog, and apologize for the mayhem.

  3. I am sorry your brother had that experience, and I'm sorry he felt he needed to change his hair style. The hair issue is much bigger than most of us white mothers of black children understand.

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  5. As I stated in the Locs post, "Living in the city/town we live in with less than 10% people of color, yet daily moving back and forth through the Bay Area using BART, I really had to be careful of the life-danger my son's locs could puthim into and the typical streotyping that people (police/cough cough) would subject him to".

    You see, DWB =is equal to= locs whether some people understand the concept, acknowledge it, or agree that it is a reality for us or not.

    I'm surprised by the people on the forum group it was linked to, questioning the political aspects of locs. . . are some peoples' lives and comfort therein that removed from the rest of America...or is it just me? If it's just me, please help me, correct me, rebuke me, teach me because I desire to remain a life-long learner.

    Disclaimer: And no, I will not elaborate nor explain what I mean by the "politics"...too much energy and not enough Tylenol!

    Robbin, thanks for pushing us into the winds of open discussions post Obama!

  6. He did have beautiful locs. He is still very handsome. I have linked your blog to mine so I can keep up with your posts. Thanks for your insight and honesty.


  7. @ Robbin,
    I really appreciated your post about your brother on the other forum. And, in case you haven't checked back, it wasn't negatively received at all. I also wrote something there that I hope you will go and read--in response to a critique of your original blog post. I realize that many of us coming to your blog for the first time took your post out of context. I apologize, and apologize too for getting defensive.

    You asked:
    I'm surprised by the people on the forum group it was linked to, questioning the political aspects of locs. . . are some peoples' lives and comfort therein that removed from the rest of America...

    The answer, I'm sorry to say, is apparently yes. I didn't know this, even though I've read, and listened, and talked etc about this subject a whole lot. So, truthfully, it saddens me that I didn't know this--it suggests that I will ALWAYS have blind spots that, for my son's sake, I would rather not have. I'm going to keep on learning as much as I possibly can and involving AA adults in my son's life but I won't always know what questions I need to ask. As a mother, that really does not feel good.


  8. (Robbin, please allow me a few words on your blogpost to know I love you and would never take over your blog).

    Julie: Thank you for the wake up call you've given me. Honestly, I was tucked in my small world---thinking everyone who adopts child from Africa sees and understands an African-American child's struggles. I too must now walk in shoes of patience until my sisters and brothers of transracial adoptions accept the fact that there is a struggle (no, it's not fair but it's there) and then move with truth and tenacity to remove struggles and barriers based on outward appearances.

    Lastly, I'm reminded of the African Proverb:It Takes A Village
    Man, that proverb runs deeper than the depths that I had given it!

    In my most humbled yet liberated spirit, "Thanks Robbin"!

  9. BTW Robbin, although we haven't met in person (yet), but have encouraged one another through our blogs and e-mails, I feel as if I know you as a sistah-friend-girl, yep, like a play-cousin; therefore, me commenting on your brother's phine-ness is just awkward...(giggling). It's like looking at my close-sistah-friend-girl's-brotha-"reggieG"...I think it but I dare not say he's phine!

  10. BTW Robbin, although we haven't met in person (yet), but have encouraged one another through our blogs and e-mails, I feel as if I know you as a sistah-friend-girl, yep, like a play-cousin; therefore, me commenting on your brother's phine-ness is just awkward...(giggling). It's like looking at my close-sistah-friend-girl's-brotha-"reggieG"...I think it but I dare not say he's phine!

  11. Thanks, LoveNotes. That means a lot.

  12. Robbin,
    I can only imagine what your brother has experienced. I hate that he cut his locs off. They were very nice on him. Thanks for being real on your blog and bringing up topics that are not often addressed.

  13. I'm sorry about the unfair manner in which your brother was treated, and it's sad that in 2009 we are still subject to this. Thank you for speaking up about such a personal issue to help educate others.

  14. Robbin,

    Thank you so much for writing the last two post. I enjoy your blog all the time, but especially when I can learn and grow from what I am reading. This statement that you wrote in the previous post, "...just how much adoptive parents really understand about the challenges faced in transracial adoptions", really made me think. I was recently speaking to another white mother that has two sons adopted from Haiti..she lives in the same small town that we do. I was expressing to her my concern over several unpleasant "racial" encounters I have had since Nathan has been home. I wanted to know if she had experienced the same kinds of attitudes in our little town. Her response was, "No, not at all...except for this thing, and this, oh and that one time..." I just was dumbfounded at the blatant denial she was in. It makes me VERY sad that my child must face obstacles simply because of who he is, but I would NEVER want to deny the existence of such injustice.

    Thanks for letting me vent...and thank you for your words of wisdom.

  15. I like him with the Locs but I know that's not the point. You know that we also moved your post over to Culturally Fluent families and started a pretty good conversation. What I'd like to see more of is people putting themselves in the position of the children and what I see instead is APs talking about the issues from the perspective of how they affect them and how they will handle them. There is too little discussion about how children feel when they experience slights and different treatment.

    As always you are you doing your part.

  16. Robbin,

    You did me the honor of commenting on my blog on my post related to yours. I thought I would do the same here.

    As I said in my comments section, the cool thing about the blogosphere is the diversity of opinion. We disagree on this one. No harm, no foul.

    Racism and prejudice are a fact of life for black people in America. Non-black parents of black children need to know that.

    I, too, have a brother who has been stopped by police simply for being black. In fact, as they left a hotel where they were staying on vacation, my brother and his friends--hard-working, educated, professionals all--were stopped and surrounded by several police cars and officers with guns drawn. See, someone saw them exchanging money to settle up for their hotel tab and assumed their transaction MUST have been drug-related. And so, those good kids wound up face down on the side of a highway, which had been closed, btw, in preparation for the take down of a car full of "vicious drug dealers." I shudder today when I think of how that event could have gone wrong.

    Of course, neither by brothers nor his friends have locs, cornrows, saggy clothes or any of the accepted markers of delinquency. I know you know that it doesn't matter. It was their blackness that was the problem.

    Unfortunately, black hair isn't "just hair." It's appearance is given extra significance because we live in a culture that assumes the supremacy of white physicality. Non-black parents of black children need to know this, too. Did you catch the furor that erupted early last year when a Glamour magazine editor told a roomful of female attorneys that natural, black hairstyles were unprofessional and too political? Little black girls loved to have their hair pressed straight, because we are acculturated to believe that long, flowing hair is the ultimate in beauty, not the curly, kinky, fuzzy hair that many people with African descent (not all) have.

    I stopped straightening my hair three years ago, some 15 years into my career. Would I have come this far this fast had I always worn my hair natural (say locs instead of a sraight, shoulder-length bob)? I don't know.

    But I disagree that the response to bigotry and bias should be acquiescence. I disagree that we should abet little black girls in hating their natural hair and coveting straight hair. I would rather see a little girl rocking healthy locs than a kiddie perm (I don't find nearly the ire on the Internet for parents who make the equally-permanent decision to chemically straighten a child's hair.)

    Whew! Sorry to write a dissertation on this. But, I guess my bottom line is that I am a black woman who is well aware of all the politics of black hair. But I think parents that find ways to affirm their child's identity through hairstyles that work best with natural, black hair (locs included) should be applauded, not scolded.