The great bonnet debate.
Black women’s hair is our crown and glory, and many of us protect it at all costs — even in public spaces like the airport. This is a distinct and intentional choice that should be based on a woman’s freedom to decide. Yet, it has now been used in overgeneralized discourse on whether the choice to publicly protect our hairstyles in certain manners is appropriate or not. Comedian Monique took to Instagram recently to voice her thoughts.
Yes, from this initial discussion emerged another discourse on (taking place mainly on Twitter) over whether Black women should wear bonnets in public or not. An interesting conversation to be had, considering that this kind of decision should be solely based on the individual in most circumstances. However, I still chose to look into the array of opinions people had to give on the matter.
I was met with many Black men brazenly agreeing that bonnets shouldn’t be worn in public — which was an interesting consensus for a group that often publicly wears the male equivalent of a bonnet: the durag. Black women were also evenly split in opinions on this subject, which only further fanned the flames of discourse.
Now, the issue with the discussion on Twitter wasn’t about whether or not Black women wanted to wear bonnets in public, but rather the judgements that emerged from those who chose to wear them. The respectability politics behind it all was astounding, and it’s disheartening to see how prevalent this concept remains — not only by older generations who stress it in modern society — but our own peers within the community.
There is a need for many of us to overcompensate and overdress within the Black community. This is notable in African-American stars, who arguably sport more labels, gold chains, and lace fronts than other groups — which is fine.
And more than valid considering Black people have been historically discriminated against by the majority, and urged to prove their humanity through their appearance — often feeling pressured to go above and beyond in presenting a polished exterior. If the world assumed we were ‘less than,’ we would overcompensate and show that we were more than these racist assumptions ; a thought process that has been pushed from generation to generation… but one that isn’t for everyone.
And furthermore, people shouldn’t be policing others over something so trivial.
Fortunately, it appears that younger generations no longer care about what the outside world may think and have embraced individuality and comfort over the status quo. A distinct and rightful choice to be made, but not without the judgment of those who disagree.
Regardless of whether or not you choose to wear a bonnet in public or believe the act is forbidden in your household… mind your business. What Black women choose to do with their hair is their business, and they shouldn’t have to face such scrutiny, regardless of the circumstances.
Black women should be able to do what they want without so much criticism! LET US LIVE.