Hair Matters: The Long and Short of It : Tell Me More To this day, how many African-American women in television or any form of public life wear their hair "natural?" Right now I can think of one: Ursula Burns, the new CEO of XEROX and, to date, the only African-American female CEO of a Fortune 500 c...
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Hair Matters: The Long and Short of It

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I got up this morning and decided to throw on a scarf headband to pull the hair back from my forehead. It's supposed to be hot today, and I tried to remind myself to make a hair appointment. Sometime. So I thought, do I want to go to the pool this week or not, and, if so, when? Then I forgot about it and went to work, and even that is five times more thought than I put into my hair for years when I wore it short and natural, and cropped close to my scalp. Which was its own tricky decision being on network television.

To this day, how many African-American women in television or any form of public life wear their hair "natural?" Right now I can think of one: Ursula Burns, the new CEO of XEROX and, to date, the only African-American female CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

It should be a personal choice, like wearing blue or red, but it isn't really. The decision to wear blue or red in some neighborhoods is a matter of life or death or safety, because those are Crips' or Bloods' colors, and you have to know the code. It isn't written down anywhere.

And, similarly, to wear their hair a certain way is a matter of corporate survival for many women. And for black women, it is so, so freighted with history, with the weight of all the messages telling you, You just won't do. You aren't good enough. How you look is wrong. ... How your hair grows is wrong.

There are some who will listen to our moms conversation today -- about the video of a little girl screaming and crying as she gets her hair done -- and they will ask, "What on EARTH are these women talking about? ... How could this possibly be a big deal in this day and age?"

But trust me. It is. We wish it weren't. But it is.

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