Tuesday, April 18, 2006

"Why a Hairstyle Made Headlines"

I know this is really, really late but...

Robin Givhan in The Washington Post on Cynthia Mckinney's hair:

"When Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) summoned the media to Howard University last week to tell her side of the story in an altercation with a Capitol Police officer, she assumed the traditional news conference position behind a podium and a bank of microphones.

She stood there wearing a coral-colored jacket and dangling earrings and raising the serious issue of racial injustice. But it was impossible not to stare at her hair. As your plainspoken mother might say, it appeared to be standing all over her head. [...]

Aesthetically speaking, it was not one of McKinney's better moments. Her hair, which she had for years worn in thick braids, seemed to be in a limbo between a polished Afro and a head of funky twists. Had the humidity gotten to it? [...]

Anyone who has the smarts and the tenacity to be the first black woman elected to Congress from Georgia clearly understands the visual politics of wearing milkmaid braids and gold tennis shoes into the corridors of power. Her choices drive home the point that she is exceptional. She rolls hair, clothes and race into a tight ball. And it becomes impossible to talk about one without getting tangled up in the others. read more

AND PATRICIA J WILLIAMS IN THE NATION A Short History of the Pads of Brillo

[...] On our way out of the House of Representatives, we noticed a small scuffle as the Capitol Police wrestled with a dark, angry headful of illicit hair; a "dangerous do" had been trying to smuggle its way into the halls of power. [...]

I suppose this blinding power of hair is why facial recognition is so low in the humans' arsenal of self-protection. However it may seem to us, to the humans' hair is somehow more potently identifying than width of brow or color of eyes. "Who could notice the cheekbones, the nose and the smile with the loaded distractions of that washerwoman crown of braids?" asked an editorial in their widely circulated newspaper the Washington Post. Notice the placement of the word "loaded." They use that same word when speaking of guns. In other words, it would appear they can tell whether someone is a "loose cannon" or "safe" by whether the hair is "scattershot" or "a smooth, controlled cap."

Anyway, can you get a few of the Terran anthropologists on this? The hair doesn't speak to us; we don't hear a thing. But to the humans, the hair is yelling "confrontation!" and it makes everyone's optic nerves turn to stone when it stands up or lies down and it is "impossible not to stare" at anything but that bad, bad hair. One possible clue: The only thing the humans fully agree on is that the hair is all about race.

But the guidebook says race is a "card" game...read more


Post a Comment

<< Home