More on Haircuts and Race than You Wanted to Know
Cecily begins by describing her ordeal at a hair salon. She, a white woman, takes her daughter to a black shop because it's in the neighborhood and (we discover later) because she wants to be undiscriminatory. Both commendable motives, IMO. And then the hairdresser ruins the baby's hair, explaining that she didn't know how to cut white people's hair (with scissors because blacks don't get their hair cut with scissors).
I had Issues with that.
See, I haven't always been (dread)locked. I used to perm and relax with the best of 'em. And when it was time for my stylist to cut off the damaged part or the split ends, or just to give my hair a sassy look, she used scissors. Every time. (Yes, she had to use clippers on the kitchen, but we're not talkin about the kitchen, now, are we? Can I move on now? Thank you.) And even now, now that my hair is (dread)locked, my loctician, at the end of every session, uses scissors to neaten my look. In fact, she has never used clippers on my head. So for Cecily's stylist to play the "I don't do white people's hair. Black people never use scissors on they hair" card ticked me off. The problem with the Cecily's stylist wasn't exposure; it was honesty. Here the woman brings her baby in, trusting her baby's hair to strange black people, in a gesture of good faith, and not only does the stylist ruin the baby's 'do, but she lies about it, too.
So I posted a comment to that effect. Then I read on. Cecily's ordeal in the shop is a kind of metaphor for her response to Obama's "Wright" speech, it seems: the stylist jacked up the baby's hair, you see, because she didn't "feel comfortable turning" Cecily and her baby away.
Discomfort is a powerful thang.
In a coupla emails back and forth, Cecily and I discussed the normal reaction to (someone else's) anger: discomfort. I said that discomfort was normal, but we need to realize that anger is, too. "Where I used to go to church," I emailed Cecily, "people quoted Ephesians 4:26 ('Be angry and sin not'), usually to mean, 'It's all right to be angry, but don't let your anger make you sin.' Over the years, though, I've come to think the warning ALSO means 'It's a sin not to get angry over the right things.' Righteous indignation (as opposed, say, to road rage) is in short supply these days."
While many in the black (and, apparently, white) community were waiting for Obama to respond in kind to Clinton barbs, just as many were uncomfortable about Obama talking "candidly"* about race. All in front of God and e'body. BUT, Cecily says, not as uncomfortable as we'd feel, say, if Clinton had discussed race:
There is a bit of, well, I don't know what to call it. What if Hillary, in reaction to Ms. Ferraro's comments, decided that SHE needed to give a 'major speech' about race?
Only Mr. Obama is allowed to give such a speech. Because he's not white.
I had Issues with that, too. Personally, I would not feel any "not allowed" in response to Clinton giving a speech about race. IF she hadn't been so sneakily racist in her campaign all along. And IF she wasn't liable to put her foot in her mouth while talkin about it. No problem. Let Clinton talk about race, too. Whatever. It's a free country.
Unlike Cecily's stylist, Clinton isn't unqualified. But, like the stylist, she might be too dishonest.
*As candidly as any politician can speak, that is, with a speech in hand before cameras.
Dear Jesus, my brother, help us to speak honestly with each other, redeeming the time (for the days are evil).