by Mike Orie of www.theconscioustip.com
Well, I don’t really know what a bad hair day is like, because I keep a low cut tapered on the sides. But Monday reminded of me what being in New Orleans during Essence Fest might feel like for a Black girl with natural hair. Three days ago, the 10th annual Black Girls Rock! Awards aired on BET. Black women, whose voices are often silenced in mainstream media, the workplace and every other facet of life gathered to celebrate just how amazing they were. Last night, I watched some of these clips again and realized they were probably some of the most powerful things I’ve seen in awhile. I listening to Shonda Rhimes story on how she wanted to “portray women the same way men are.” And then there was Beverly Bond’s speech. “Our features can be bought and sold to enhance the beauty of other women.” It really made me stop to appreciate the little privilege I do have as a Black male.
At the same time this was being aired, Kerry Washington was facing a similar battle from the opposite end of the spectrum. Well, kind of, because BET isn’t Black owned anymore although some people still think it is. She posted this heartfelt message on Instagram about her Adweek cover being photo shopped. Somebody upped the exposure so much on the photo that I didn’t even recognize her at first. I thought back to those days I used to go to the club in St. Louis. Right before I got in, there was this sign that said “no sneakers, no t-shirts, no fitted caps, no graphic tees,” and at the very bottom, scratched out, metaphorically “no Black people.” I was thinking, who still wears graphics tees anyway? It was like they re-watched Nelly’s “Country Grammar” video 10 years later and made a dress code policy based off of it. That’s what that Adweek cover felt like. As if they told me, we still want your money, we just don’t want you, so go change and come back. And when you get here, we won’t play more than two hip hop songs in a row, because we don’t want you to have too much fun. We just want your money. And after they got your money, it was like walking up to the DJ, and the DJ saying that he was gonna take your request, but your song never got played. In fact, instead of playing it, as soon as you walked away, he deleted it from his computer. “There are a few things we discussed in the interview that were left out. Things that are important to me (like: the importance of strong professional support and my awesome professional team),” Kerry Washington explained in her Instagram post. Somebody on the editorial team might’ve said, “This part just wasn’t that interesting.” But the Blacktivist in me wonders if somebody really said, “We don’t need them figuring out how to duplicate success stories, we just need to increase our African American viewership by 10%.” Things like that usually happen on a bad hair day though. You overanalyze everything, and when you think the wind messed up your edges, they were actually still Snapchat ready no filter.
I thought to myself, this might be the average day in the life of a Black woman. But somehow y’all still manage to make it through without me noticing. (I wanted to use the word slay, but I don’t really like that word.) If this day was any reflection of what could’ve been a bad hair day, fixed between your lunch break and multiple trips to the bathroom in between meetings, then I’m definitely in awe. I’m voting that we move the annual Black Girls Rock! Awards to a bi-monthly celebration, a monthly day party or a once a week gathering on Taco Tuesdays. Because for all that you go through, they still don’t celebrate you enough. So when I woke up this morning and my hair was still tapered perfectly after I brushed it for a few seconds, I was reminded of how good I had it. Black women, I don’t know how you do it, but even on your worst days, you always find a way to keep your edges in tact. And that’s something we should celebrate everyday. Hashtag, Black Edges Matter!