And yes, I'm White.
It's February, which means that it's Black History month. This is a time to acknowledge past and present Black figures who have made a significant impact for the Black community (though really society should be doing that no matter what month it is).
I love celebrating the progression that the Black community has made towards equality, but it's true that their efforts have been hindered by one crippling issue:
From the way it's woven into the United States' government, to everyday issues like finding a friend group and under-representation of Black individuals in media, White privilege affects Black individuals every single day of their lives. One specific issue regarding White privilege is the discrimination that exists towards the hairstyles of Black women. Obviously, Black women's hair texture differs from that of White women, and as a result, there is a variety of hairstyles for Black women to wear, such as completely natural styles, wigs, and protective styles like box braids. Black women experience discrimination daily for the way they choose to have their hair styled and to prove that white privilege exists in this matter, I decided to perform a social experiment and had my hair braided in Ghana braids for a week.
My hair was braided into four burgundy Ghana braids by @miraclehair and I loved the way it turned out. I felt beautiful and empowered, in that I felt confident in a hairstyle that was different from one that I would normally wear. I knew the significance of being a White woman and getting my hair braided. Black women have been slandered, bullied, and discriminated against simply because of their beautiful hair that holds so much history and significance. I knew that I faced the possibility of receiving weird looks from others while walking to class, or even anger regarding the hairstyle I was wearing. I was ready to face those consequences for seven days, that's easy. Those seven days don't even come close to comparing to the daily discrimination that Black women face.
Throughout the one week, I had my Ghana braids in, I received hundreds of compliments from women and men of all races. It disappoints me that Black women don't receive the same love for their braids, simply because of their skin color. What disappoints me, even more, is the hatred that Black women receive regarding their hair. A specific issue is Black women's hairstyles and the workforce. There have been many times where Black women have been exempt or even fired from jobs or promotions, because they wouldn't cut their dreadlocks or take their brains out, especially in more corporate settings.
On Day 5 of 7, I had a job interview.
I had prepared well for the interview and felt confident in my abilities to perform the job well. I entered the interview and did as well as I thought I would, expressing my interest in the job and skills that would benefit the position I was applying for. And what were the results?
I was hired. On the spot.
Yes, I prepared well for my interview. But do you know what else helped me earn my job? White privilege.
The week I wore my hair in Ghana braids confirmed that White privilege persists every day, as does the discrimination towards Black women (and not just regarding their hairstyles either).
So, the next time you see a Black queen or king, and the time after that, and the time after THAT, remind them of their beauty and worth, because we all know society doesn't.