No Thru Traffic
Someone wrote something somewhere on this interweb--maybe a blog, maybe an online mag---about girls who's bangs were 'hot combed to their foreheads'. (I'm paraphrasing from spotty memory.) I remember it now because I just listened to "Ride Around Shining" where dude (pusha/malice?) mentions hot combed hair (hair pressed/blowing in the wind/shit 'bout long as Jesus). The songs recalls a lot for me, Kemba Smith prominently, but this line lead me to that aforementioned hot combed reference. For some reason--the forgotten context?--I didn't think 'hot combed to their foreheads' was written by a Black person. Assuming I was right, it leads me to comment on the persistent infringement upon Black space. Now, like I said my memory is spotty. If 'pressed' (with its multiple meanings) was used in lieu of hot combed the sentence could work but hot combed simply doesn't make sense and evinces a faulty grasp of Black hair care. Hot combing is a straightening technique relatively antiquated on the east, more common in the south and still pretty popular in the west (from where I hail). And one doesn't straighten their bangs to their forehead. One can gel them down, brush them down, or tie them down with a silk scarf. I say this to demonstrate how common it is for non-Black pop commentators to make Black cultural references without understanding the particulars. Irrespective of the hot combed comment which I can't place and could be getting wrong, I see and hear similar things all the time. I went to elementary and secondary school pretty much exclusively with wealthy White and Asian girls who would always talk about how their hair was so nappy. Of course they meant their hair looked bad. Nappy is not a synonym for bad hair day. It is a perjorative for tightly coiled hair common to people of African descent. And while there is a history of specific perjoratives gaining a wider meaning (niggardly maybe) this usage is entirely diff. For non-whites Black space has no propietary rights and it's unilaterally accesible if it's existence is even acknowledged (You might could argue that Black space is an oxymoron in the developed post-colonial world). And that's a big if. Take Adrian Brody non-consensual kiss of Halle Berry at the Oscars for example. Or the daily unexcused bumping, stepping on, running of the sidewalk of Blacks by Whites. This is not just a question of manners or home training it's about bodies and value and visibilty. You can't infringe upon that which has no boundaries. One morning commute I stood next to a Black woman on the Q train who threatened to kill a White woman who knowingly battered her with her oversized bags without saying excuse me or moving (Exact overheard words: "I will kill you!"). All of the white people were stunned and aghast. I chuckled to myself a la the protagonist of the Invisible Man. Many of us play it cool. Let that shit slide. It's a polarizing encounter and its more advantageous for us to navigate White supremacist patriachal supremacy by staying quiet. Not that bouts of rage are any better. Soul food ain't the only cause of the Black hypertension pandemic. This is just a restatement of what I hope will not be an eternal truism: the ubiquity of Blackness (appropiated, aped and adored) is not evidence of racial progress.