By: Jolanda Jones
The Gabby Douglas Twitter Bad Hair Fiasco woke me from my slumber and shows just how ignorant or stupid some folks are. Black people, how far have we come? If you judge us by how some of us responded to the first ever Black gymnast to win the Olympic All-Around Gold Medal then we have an extremely long way to go. On Twitter, @misDOScentavos stated, “On a side note, Gabby Douglas gotta do something with this hair! these clips and this brown gel residue aint it!”
We already have to deal with people who judge us negatively based on our color. How long must we deal with our own people judging us over the texture or length or style of our hair; or the thickness of our lips; or the narrowness of our nose; or the color of our eyes, etc.?! Really, you have got to be kidding me! Remember Dr. Martin Luther King’s Content of Character Not Color of Skin speech? Evidently not. It appears the Willie Lynch keep-slaves-enslaved strategy is alive and kicking in 2012. Black people, wake up!
As a child, I had to deal with Gabby Douglas’s hair issue. I got teased and picked on incessantly about my “short nappy” hair. My Mom tried pressing, jheri curls, braids and relaxers. I continued trying to change the hair God gave me when I became an adult.
I was told I was less-than by many. It hurt my feelings. It made me feel inferior. I cried behind closed doors and wished for “a better grade of hair” or “good hair”. My hair, in its natural state, breaks some combs. I cried every time my Mom or anyone combed my hair. My hair is so coarse that my scalp was constantly irritated; consequently, my scalp always burned and ended up with chemical burns regardless of using no-lye or sensitive scalp relaxers or basing my scalp with a ton of grease. At some point I realized I was fighting a losing battle. My hair is what my hair is and what my hair is does not define my worthiness as a person. That’s why I cut my hair off. I wanted to see if I still loved me without my hair. I do.
As a Mom, I desired to convey that message to my son, Jiovanni, who has coarse hair just like me. I prepared him for the inevitable day that some Black person was going to try and put him down because of his nappy hair.
From the day he was born, I engrained in him that God does not make mistakes; that his hair was exactly like God intended it to be; that there was nothing wrong with his hair; and that one day some insecure Black person, who lacks self-esteem, would try to bring him down by talking negatively about his nappy hair and that, most importantly, when that inevitable day happened, here was the game plan.
He was to say, in his most confident and proud voice, with his neck rolling, while looking that person straight in the eyes, that “my Mom has nappy hair, now what?!” I insisted that he not show any embarrassment because there was nothing to be embarrassed of. He was to stand proud! That day came when Jio was either in second or third grade, he came home from school, with a cute little pep in his step and hugged and kissed me and said, “Mom, such-and-such has low self-esteem.”
It caught me by surprise. I said, “What?” He repeated himself. I asked how he knew that. He went on to explain that the boy had confronted him on the school bus and started calling him names related to his nappy hair. The boy tried to get others on the bus to taunt him, too. I asked him what his response was. He said he told him, “My Mom has nappy hair, now what?!” He explained that he said it with a confident attitude just like I had prepared him to do. I did all I could do not to bust out laughing. I kept my serious Mom face on while laughing inside. I asked him how he felt. He answered that he felt fine because he knew God did not make mistakes. He then recognized that the boy had the same kind of hair as he did and he pointed out that fact.
All of a sudden the tide changed and the others on the bus began to turn their attention to the other boy and pointed out that he too had nappy hair.
The moral of this article is that there is nothing wrong with Gabby Douglas’, my son’s or my hair. All the haters out there trying to make her hair an issue have low self-esteem and are engaging in a form of bullying. They need to get a grip. While those people are evaluating how they feel about the hair issue, I respectfully suggest they read the Willie Lynch Letters and watch Chris Rock’s documentary called “Good Hair” maybe then they will appreciate the either ignorance or stupidity of their she-should-have-done-something-better-with-her-hair argument. Gabby, the first-ever Olympic All-Around Gold Medalist, was focused on exactly what she should have been focused on, winning the gold for our country, nothing more and nothing less and we should have been celebrating the same!