After Beyoncé posted pictures of her new do Wednesday night on Instagram, all the internets lost their minds! By Thursday morning, it was breaking news. And more so than the reporting on “the story,” it was the public’s response to the story that was most telling. Comments such as “it looks nappy” or “she needs to put her weave back in” reflect the extent to which many of us equate feminine beauty with a particular hair color, texture, and length – all of which are defined by White supremacist standards and ideals. On the one hand, it’s hair – it grows, we cut it, it grows again. But on the other hand – it’s Black hair – and in a White supremacist framework, for Black women it not only communicates the extent to which we will be deemed beautiful, but “civilized” and/or human. Its color, texture, and length communicate our position within the power structure. Still.
Leroy Jones, host of Ask, Talk & Listen with PoliticalJones, invited me and Ayana Byrd, co-author (with Lori Tharps) of Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America, on his show to discuss the public’s response to Beyonce’s haircut. Listen: