It’s been a while since I wrote about a few of my “Limits of Blackness,” places and things that go “a Negro too far” for me. As African Americans, a lot of time we feel pressure to cosign onto things and fads that we’d rather not be associated with. But often if you express displeasure or point out that you think something is tacky you get all kinds of blow back. People accuse you of running away from your blackness when really you should have the choice whether or not you want to celebrate Kwanzaa or listen to “gangsta” rap music. There’s no law that if you’re black you have to think OJ is innocent, smoke “Black and Milds” and enjoy Jet Magazine’s “Beauty of the Week.”
Last time my limit was wearing traditional African dress to my traditionally American wedding and celebrating the fake, black pride holiday Kwanzaa. Here are a few more things to add to the list:
First, I hate to knock this because these shirts are born out of tragedy, but it just seems wholly bizarre to wear your dead loved ones on a cheaply made T-shirt, then to wear said T-shirt to the funeral. I also know that this practice is not limited to just black people, but some Latin Americans as well.
Second, why do people wear giant T-shirts with either Tupac of Biggie’s faces on them? This is a glamorized extension of the funeral T-shirt. I realize that people are fans and even I enjoy some Tupac and Biggie songs, but seriously? A T-shirt? The only dead person I ever wore on a T-shirt was my Martin Luther King shirt I got when I was eight at his memorial in Atlanta, Ga. I’m not saying “Juicy” wasn’t a great contribution to the world, but it kind of pales in comparison to being a martyr.
I had these once when I was in high school. A lot of the popular girls had them. Even though I had pretty good looking nails I thought, “Hey, why not?” It was horrible because one, the nails looked fake. I couldn’t get over the fakeness no matter how much I looked at them. I looked like I had giant claws even though they weren’t that long and I felt really tacky and skanky. I mean, I was 17. What did I need fake nails for? Was I planning on a career as a beauty pageant contestant, a stripper or the leader of the women’s board at church? On top of that, acrylics destroy your natural nails. It was months before my fingers looked normal again. Just say no to acrylics, people. Work with what you have.
I think the main reason why I stopped getting a relaxer to straighten my hair was because I got sick of having to wait for hours at the salon to get my hair done. I didn’t understand how white salons could just pop people in and out, but at the black salon you waited an hour then it took two hours to do your hair because the beautician is working on three different people at one time. Or she’s talking on the cell phone. Or she gossiping with the customers.
I know that part of the reason why they do this is because they can. Black women have very unique hair. We just can’t run into a SuperCuts and get done up for less than $30. Having African hair is like a science experiment, especially if you want to force it into an unnatural position like straightness. Therefore you have to go to an expert, a black beautician, for the privilege of paying $100 to have them slowly destroy your hair over a long period of time.
I’ve had a few really good beauticians and a ton of rude, brutal women who didn’t listen to me when I said the chemicals were burning my scalp. But the waiting forever is just bad business. I know black folks tend to give one another on passes on things, but waiting four hours to get my hair done is a limit to my blackness.