Military Bans Black Hairstyles

Last week, the military angered a lot of black folks and allies with their updated regulations on braids, twists, locs, and other hairstyles normally worn by Black women:

Photo from: www.thesisterlockeddiva.com

Photo from: worldofbraiding.wordpress.com

 

It’s funny, because I just got my hair braided a week ago.  If I tried to sign up with the Army, I would have to cut them all off. I used to work with women veterans returning to school. To a certain extent, I get why the military has these rules.  The women veterans often talked about uniformity in the military.  Everyone must look the same. It’s a way to keep soldiers in line/disciplined. It’s not about individuality when one is in the military.

However, one of the women made a good point when she said perhaps it explains the hostility towards women in the military.  The military views them as interrupting the flow of uniformity because they are so “different.” Imagine how much more difficult it is for black women and other women of color. The hair regulation is a way to punish black women for being the “other.”

“Attention people who don’t have natural black hair, African American coils are not the same as other coils. As a result, creating rules that are easily followed by non-black people but not black people is unfair and yes, it is racially biased. It is akin to the idea that natural black hair is unprofessional, or schools that send little black girls home because their hair isn’t straight like their non-black school mates. For white women, the equivalent would be if the Army ordered every straight haired person to go directly to a salon, get a curly Jessie Spano perm and forced them to keep it fresh and bouncy for the rest of their lives. No. One. Wants. That.” http://jezebel.com/army-bans-braids-and-twists-because-they-dont-understa-1556250329/+HillaryCrosley

The ban also speaks to the continued oppression of black women’s bodies. Black women are often forced to confirm to white standards of beauty when looking for employment. I’ve always maintained if white women could easily sport our hair styles, they would be welcomed with open arms in the work place.

Remember when white folks went crazy over Bo Derek braids, when black women sport them like, every day :O/

There tends to be surveillance on black hair because the majority of white folks don’t understand it and are even afraid of it. Despite being around us hundreds of years, white folks don’t even know the basics of black hair. It’s why black women are often asked ridiculous questions about their hairstyles. I refuse to answer such questions. I usually piss folks off, but I view it as a form of othering. Because frankly, I don’t give a damn about white hair. And why should I,  when I am bombarded with white beauty standards everyday.

It will be interesting to see how the military handles this situation. There is currently a petition going around the internet to get the military to reconsider banning ethnic hairstyles.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/reconsider-changes-ar-670-1-allow-professional-ethnic-hairstyles/BnR900wx

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