What is Black? Part 2

Wendi Levy and Kim Etheridge-Founders of Mixed Chicks

Tuesday’s post on “What is Black? Part 1” sparked some much appreciated comments.  And people are still reading it.  Today’s post is mostly inspired by an article I read on Coco and Creme by Alexis Garrett Stodghill.  The article, titled “Do Mixed Chicks Hair Care Products Make Light Seem Right?”, rubbed me the wrong way a little.  What I got from the article was another way to divide the Black community.

According to Stodghill, the name Mixed Chicks, a fairly new hair care line targeted to women of biracial or multiracial backgrounds, is a way to divide Black women and make us feel inadequate about our hair.  Um…yeah, not me!  Yes, at one time I wanted hair that’s a little softer to the touch (I’ve been natural for almost six years), but I have grown to love my hair and work with what the Lord gave me.   The title of this product does not invoke an inadequecy in me because I’m not a “mixed chick”, and I can’t use this product.  My BFF from undergrad is not biracial, and yet she could probably use Mixed Chicks.  Why?  Because her hair is soft to the touch, naturally curly, and has the type of hair that the creators are marketing to.   Look at the product Kinky Curly.  Should biracial women or women who have softer hair be offended by the term kinky?  Apparently so, according to the author of this article. 

Another issue I have with the article is how she goes in on Halle Berry.  Berry, a biracial actress, strongly affirms being African-American and embraces her Black heritage.  A few years back, when Mixed Chicks first came on the scene, Halle was very vocal about her use of the product and how she loved it.  Ms. Stodghill states that if Halle identifies as Black, she can’t possibly be part of the “biracial/multiracial” demographic that is the target audience for Mixed Chicks.   This is another utterly ridiculous notion.  Despite the old adage “One drop of Black blood makes you black”, who’s to say that a woman who identifies as Black can’t use this product?  I’m sure other multiracial women who identify as being Black, such as Raven-Symone, Thandie Newton, or Michael Michele, could use this product. And according to Eugene Robinson, in “Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America“, biracial and multiracial people are still part of Black America. 

Why can’t we just say “KUDOS!” to these women who saw a need and supplied a product to a particular demographic?   It’s going to take more than some shampoo and conditioner to separate us as a people.  I implore all of you to read the article for yourselves.  I believe the author missed the mark on so many levels.  I am a beautiful Black woman, and the name of some hair care product is not going to affect the way I view myself.   What say you Southern audience?  Is there any validity to this article?  Or is Stodghill just looking for another way to divide us as a race?  As I stated in the first portion, Black comes in all shapes, sizes, hues, and cultures.  We need to work on being inclusive as opposed to exclusive.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

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What is Black? Part 1

Please Black People Ask God to Help Us Stick T...

Image by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

It’s a shame that in 2011 race is still an issue in the United States.  What’s even more of a shame is that Black people are still finding ways to tear each other down, ridicule each other, and find ways to separate us, based on skin color, our neighborhoods, and our familial backgrounds.  I’ve come across multiple articles within the past week that discuss race within the Black community.  A few weeks ago, my book club read “Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America” by Eugene Robinson.   I’m sure we’re all familiar with the comments Jalen Rose made regarding Grant Hill and other Duke University basketball players during the documentary “Fab Five”.  “Clutch” magazine had an article titled “What Kind of Black are You?“.  And lastly, “Coco and Creme“, another on-line magazine, had an article titled “Do Mixed Chicks Hair Care Products Make Light Seem Right?”.  Because I have a lot to say, this will be (at least) a two-parter.

First, let’s discuss what is Black.  Black is beautiful, successful, strong, educated, resilient, historic, amazing, wonderful, insightful…I could go on.  What I don’t understand is why we, Black folk, continue to find ways to divide ourselves.  Some think you’re not Black enough if you use proper English.  Others think you’re not Black enough if you do well in school.  You might be too Black if you wear your pants hanging from your tail.  Too Black may include having locs or being natural.  All of these things are ridiculous.  Growing up, most of my friends in school were white, and I got ridiculed by some of the Black kids; I got told things like “You talk like a white girl”, “Is everything all white?”, and my personal favorite (a message in my middle school yearbook) “Oreo, I hope you unlock the magic this summer.”  Yes, kids are cruel, and we hope they don’t grow up to be cruel adults.  Having an education has always been synomous with being an “Uncle Tom” or acting white or not being Black enough.  Why is that?  Why is it cool to not do well in school?  Although Southern parents divorced when I was young, both parents were, and still are, involved in my life and made sure I did well in school.  Both parents are college educated so going to college wasn’t a question for me-the question was, “Where are you going?”  But I digress…

Why must we separate ourselves?  The author of “What Kind of Black Are You” and Robinson address the various “sub-groups” in Black America, those Blacks who are from the Carribean or Africa.  I strongly believe in embracing your culture and your country of origin if you’re not American, but why must we belittle others who aren’t like us, which happens at times?  Black people come in all hues, shapes, sizes, cultures, and the like, so we should embrace our differences, but not go so far as to demean someone who’s not EXACTLY like us.  I love my Southern heritage, but embrace those Blacks who are African, Caribbean, Northern, and wherever else they may be from.

That’s it for Part 1.  What do you guys think?  Why are we still finding ways to separate ourselves as Black people?  Is this all this still relevant in 2011 or should we find ways to bring ourselves together as one race?  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!