Our favorite culture vulture is back in the media.
Thanks to Allison Samuel’s brilliantly shady Vanity Fair article, we are now painfully aware that Rachel Dolezal has a new career after being outed as a white woman, resigning from the NAACP and not being asked back to teach at Eastern Washington University: hair braider and weave mistress.
“As she figures out where she’ll land next, Dolezal says she is surviving on one of the skills she perfected as she attempted to build a black identity. At Eastern Washington University, she lectured on the politics and history of black hair, and she says she developed a passion for taking care of and styling black hair while in college in Mississippi. That passion is now what brings in income in the home she shares with Franklin. She says she has appointments for braids and weaves about three times a week.”
Another day, another example of cultural appropriation.
And while this nonsense seems like par for the course nowadays, this particular development stings a little harder than most. I need for Ms. Rachel to keep her jumbo bag of Virgin Malaysian Remy to herself. And before the simple Andy Cohen-like folks get all, “Why can’t white folks do Black hair?” let me be clear: No one is saying that they can’t.
It’s really more complicated than that.
Yes, traditionally Black folks have gotten their hair done by, well, other Black folks. We’ve done it for a range of reasons: Talent, training, familiarity, trust and segregation. But for many of us who grew up in the Black salon, there is a sense of cultural belonging and familiarity that cannot be replicated anywhere else. Most importantly, the hairdresser has been a safe space for Black women to feel beautiful and unapologetically Black.
But we’ve also seen a shift over the years. More and more relaxed and naturals are flocking to the Dominican and Egyptian hair spots for their regular weekly blowouts, myself included. So, this notion of white people being next in line to do our hair isn’t crazy, new or even that big of a deal. As long as you treat my locks with understanding, respect and skill — and don’t take credit for creating the relaxer — then we’re good.
But Ms. Rachel doing Black hair? No ma’am, especially with her still claiming to be Black.
And maybe I feel this way because I’m just exhausted with this racial con artist infiltrating our culture and our scalps with her delusional nonsense of “perfecting” what belongs to us. Or maybe it’s the timing that has me caught in my feelings. While actual real Black women are dying in their homes, in the streets and in jail cells, this trifling fraud continues on with her smugness, rubbing it in our faces and stealing our spotlight once again.
While I would try to appeal to Ms. Rachel to stop her madness, I know you can’t reason with crazy. So I’ll ask her Black female clientele who are keeping her and her foolishness in business this: I know that Spokane isn’t the mecca for box braids and lacefronts, but really do us all a favor and explore your other options, please.
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(Photo: Anthony Quintano/NBC News via AP)
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