By Karen Dumas
Crossposted at www.karendumas.com
The recent NFL championship game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49’ers was almost completely overshadowed by a social media firestorm about Pam Oliver’s hair. I watched as Facebook and Twitter came alive and she emerged as a trending topic, nearly all of which the comments were brutal.
As a woman of color, I am beyond fed up with the discussion of two things about other women of color: hair and hue. Growing up, the ladies in my life were like other women of color—unique. We didn’t discuss hair or skin color, because it wasn’t an issue. Instead, we embraced and celebrated our uniqueness. It’s time for everyone else to do the same.
Long picked on as a child, my hair was always a focal point for criticisms or compliments from others, and yet I never quite understood the obsession. So, I am a bit sensitive to the discussion of something that has been generationally divisive for African-Americans. Long hair, short hair, curly hair, or straight; light skinned, dark skinned. It’s time to stop.
As women, we have raised families—ours and others—run households, companies, communities and corporations. Yet, the apparent obsession and willingness to seize the opportunity to attack other women because of their hair is insane, and nothing less.
We all have our idea about what others can and should look like. Certainly those in the public eye should look their best, but best is relative and style is a matter of opinion. Pam Oliver is professionally where many would love to be. If her look is so offensive, then turn the channel. But, as women, and especially women of color, we are—or should be—at the point where we use our time, talents, thumbs (on social media) and tongues for something more constructive and uplifting. Not doing so isn’t moving us ahead; we’re otherwise simply running in place.
Karen Dumas is a PR/communications strategist and former chief of communications for the city of Detroit. A native Detroiter, she leads her own firm, Images & Ideas, Inc. and is a frequent content contributor to several print, electronic and broadcast media outlets.