Music That Can Ignite the Conversation About Hair
ARTISTS CHALLENGE PREJUDICE
As people of color continue to face disparities and prejudices within our society, artists like Solange Knowles are standing up in efforts of fighting cultural discrimination. If there’s one source of influence over people, it’s through the power of music, and Solange Knowles knows how to do that.
Her recent highly anticipated single “Don’t Touch My Hair” resonated with listeners throughout, bringing up a taboo conversations that many shy away from. A conversation involving respecting identities and cultures but above all, it’s about loving ourselves—especially our hair.
“Don’t touch my hair, when it’s the feelings I wear/Don’t touch my soul, when it’s the rhythm I know,” Solange sings. Solange acknowledges that her hair is much more than a physical component of her appearance. It’s a part of who she is and how she identifies herself. There is so much history regarding hair, dating to the rocky racial origins of the United States. Since people are not objects, zoo animals, or artifacts at an art museum, it’s important to understand that hair isn’t an object to be marvelled at. It’s personal and means much more than what popular culture often minimizes it to be. It’s beauty.
Although it’s 2016 and some live with the belief that meaningful racial policy has been advanced, real bona fide racial prejudices are a serious matter, especially for women of color, who live under the skewed paradigm of intersectionality.
In South Africa, a school banned braids, cornrows, and dreadlocks in a school full of teenage girls. What seemed like an opportunity to establish a unified grooming code instead screamed elitism in favor of girls born with natural long and straight locks, which unfairly targeted women of colour.
Zendaya, a teenage celebrity, was subject to insensitive and racist remarks when she shined at last year’s Oscars wearing long dreadlocks. TV personality, Giuliana Rancic, judged her hair by inferring that Zendaya “smells like patchouli oil…or weed.” This overtly racist comment is an unfortunate reality for many. Her words continued the current very present rhetoric of oppression against minority groups. Rancic perpetuated the stereotype that those who wear dreadlocks, primarily African Americans, had this certain type of “smell;”it is and was an unfair and unjustified conclusion.
India.Arie, revealed “I Am Not My Hair” not so long ago, also bringing up the conversation of discrimination based on hair, something that Solange is also bringing up now. She sings, “Thirteen and I got a relaxer/I was a source of so much laughter,” a statement that many minority girls reside in. She talks about how society has conditioned young girls to feel uncomfortable with their natural beauty, especially if they didn’t fall under the conditions of Eurocentric beauty norms which involve long and wavy strands of hair.
The tension may be higher than ever as people continue to challenge the racial norms set in place especially in the United States. With music, Solange Knowles wants women to find beauty within themselves, making “Don’t Touch My Hair” the anthem for self expression and worth.
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