Originally written in January 2020 •
Alice Walker defines colorism as a “prejudicial or preferential treatment of same-race people based solely on their color.” Similarly, texturism is prejudice of people based on the texture of their hair, which mainly impacts Black folks, especially Black women and girls with type for natural hair.
Throughout elementary school and middle school, I absolutely hated my hair because of the comments I got from my white counterparts. I refused to let my mom take care of it, unless I wanted it straightened, making my hair more susceptible to being damaged. Throughout my childhood, people have shamed the way my hair looks, and its texture by saying things like, “go get your hair done.” Some people have used my hair to disparage and shame my mother as well. I not only dealt with comments from white people, but also Black extended family members, who wanted to straighten my hair. Once, my grandmother took me to her bathroom without my mother’s permission, and did my hair. My great-aunt wanted to straighten my hair, and in doing so, she further buried seeds of the self-hatred that consumed me as an 8 year old.
Most recently, a Black woman sent my mom a message that read:
“You should be ashamed of the way her hair looks. How is your hair done but her’s is not? My friend said she seen you recently and her hair still looks a mess. Go get your daughter’s hair done, shame on you being a Black woman. Good luck with your daughter’s mental health issues, you are to blame.
White women are complicit by appropriating our Black hairstyles, while Black women are robbed of our education, job opportunities and leadership opportunities for wearing our hair as/is. Those who attack Black children for their features, and to do so in a dehumanizing manner are complicit in a world that doesn’t allow Black children, especially Black girls to be children. One step we must take to combat the texturism against Black women and girls, is to avoid using language such as, “your hair’s not that good,” or “When are you going to get your hair done?” When Black people as a whole stigmatize each other’s hair, especially the hair of Black women and girls, we project the white supremacy we experience onto each other.