First of all I am not a natural hair diva. I am relaxed but I feel it is important to speak out about this issue. Black beauty and hair is a billion dollar industry where Blacks have little to no ownership over products and social media forums made for us. *** Warning: No shade or tea has been thrown as a result of this post. I am just “kicking the truth to the young Black youth.” ***
The recent debate over natural hair and who should be a part of the movement had me thinking. As long as media geared towards Black people and in this case Black women, is owned by nonBlacks, Black women will not have a safe space.
We cannot have our own because we do not support our own. And when we do own our own, we are often ignored by Black readers because Black bloggers and vloggers aren’t getting the spreads in magazines, newspapers or appearing on talk shows. We do not have that access because we do not have well-connected nonblack owned media organizations financially backing us up. In some cases, we aren’t biracial, have the highly sought after 3a curly hair or aren’t light enough. Let’s be real. Colorism and curlism are two more reasons why Black women who have Black features get ignored and those who have eurocentric features or are biracial are the faces of the natural hair movement.
I want to make two points for bloggers and our readers.
As a blogger, it is our responsibility to inform our readers about the purpose of our blog. It is our duty to our readers to be honest about the premise, direction and ownership of our blogs. That is why my blog boldly says, “I am a proud African American woman who loves to discuss issues that empower Black women.” I own it. Being up front creates a relationship built on trust and integrity.
I started to analyze why there huge was a backlash against CN. I believe it wasn’t so much about the White woman who was featured on Naturally Curly’s Curly Nikki blog. It is because CN readers felt betrayed. They were under the impression CN was a safe space for Black women. After years of having loyal Black women followers, those followers were jarringly made aware that CN was not a safe space for Black women. For her readers, it was like a stranger came up in their home, the place they thought was safe and that stranger unceremoniously let them know that the stranger really owned the place. And then that same stranger was about to throw you out and take over. Shoot, I would be mad too.
I am not here for the personal attacks on her. They are absolutely unnecessary however if you unknowingly mislead your readers who have invested their trust, time, energy and money in a brand they thought was yours they have absolutely every right to criticize you. They felt ripped off.
There are so many lessons to be learned for bloggers and vloggers from this entire situation.
- Stop assuming that your readers know who owns the site you are employed on. This must be stressed when the audience is Black and the site is owned by nonBlacks.
- Know your audience. If it will include nonBlacks let your readers know this.
- If you are going to a blog on Black beauty and hair at least learn about the politics of Black hair. Open up a book and study Black history. It is more than mystical magical curling gels, twisting and pulling. It is about discrimination, racism, colorism, navigating White supremacists terrains and after all of that, learning to love your beautiful Black self.
- If you knew any of the points above, you would know why the natural hair movement cannot be inclusive of others. It is because nonBlacks do not carry the burden of having to alter themselves to survive in a White supremacist world. In fact, nonBlacks unknowingly or knowingly benefit and are financially and socially invested in it.
As a reader before you follow a blogger or a YouTuber do your research on them. If they do not clearly state what the motives of their blog, website and vlog are and their ownership be leery of them. Many of us naïvely attach ourselves to an image or a person because the spokesperson looks like us or in some cases, is someone we want to look like. And when we find out that, that person is getting paid and is controlled by someone who is nonBlack we are extremely disappointed, feel violated and are hurt. Consumers can avoid this by doing their research.
In closing if you truly want a safe space for Black women it is absolutely imperative to support Black owned and operated blogs, websites and vlogs. Why would a 4a-c reader or viewer get hair advice from a biracial 3a any way? It does not make sense. Any way I am grateful for those who follow me. I would not be here without you. I just want to remind you that readers have the power. It is time for you to flex it. Support Black social media platforms and businesses.
Stay bougie and have a great day.