Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Who Defines black hair and Blackness?

By Marenda Kyle
As a little girl my mother braided my hair as way to stay in touch with my African-American roots. As someone who continued to wear and became fond of braid culture, seeing my peers bleaching and straightening their hair made me feel like an outcast.
In the January 2014 Big Holiday and Glamour Issue of Sophisticate’s Black Hair Styles & Care Guide, I was relieved to see the advertisement of a Braids and Natural Hair mini-magazine. However the Black Hair magazine’s definition of “black hair” was light and straight hair opposed to what real black hair is, which is braids and natural hair in the mini-magazine.
Who defines black hair and Blackness?
As I looked through the magazine I realized that most of the Black models and actresses were light-skinned with light hair. Most of the pages promoted weaves and chemicals to lighten and straighten hair. By these examples, the magazine is conveying the message that is what black hair is supposed to look like. I did come across a page that glorified braids, but that acceptance was short-lived because the next page had a light-skinned model advertising the KOEE Skin Lightening System. This holiday issue of Sophisticate’s Black Hair Styles & Hair Guide is telling black girls that if you want to be festive for the holidays, wear your hair like this and look like this.
I have now came to the realization that braids and natural hair are a thing of the past and if you want “glamorous” hair you have to straighten, bleach, or do anything it takes to achieve the desired European look. As a proud wearer of braids I encourage people to stick with what they have. To quote India Arie, “I am not my hair.”

Marenda Kyle is a 12th grader at Gardena High School. She has volunteered over 400 hours and is passionate about teaching individuals to love themselves.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Reflection on "American Terror" and Homophobia

By Danielle Woodcock

In health class a few days ago, we were given articles that we were supposed to respond to. I chose to respond to "American Terror", a response to the death of Carl Walker Hoover, a "gender non-conforming" youth who was bullied to death.

I agree with what the girl who wrote the article was saying. LGBTQIAP+ youth are far too often terrorized by cis-heterosexual people that are conditioned to dehumanize people who don't fit in with our heteronormative society. Often times, their only argument is the slogan "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve". Sometimes their arguments aren't even arguments at all - they just call the LGBT community fags or do unmentionable things to them. A simple Google search can give you an idea of those things.

Throughout history, our heroes are thought to be cis and heterosexual, as if the notion that LGBT people exist is a completely new and foreign concept. No one stops to think that maybe George Washington was bisexual, or that James Buchanan could have been gay or asexual, or that Hapshepsut really was trans*. No, according to nearly every history book out there, everyone was cis and straight, there were definitely no identities other than these two, and even if there were, there were laws against that kind of behavior. Because of this ancient ignorance, there are still laws that inhibit LGBT progress.

That's to say nothing of society's apparent obsession with harmful heterosexual relationships. Men often dominate their female partners in the media, their female partners' lives revolve around these men, and women who actually exist are expected to idealize these kinds of relationships. In all honesty, who would rather see the relationship between Bella and Edward, one of the most toxic relationships in the media today, praised, while the relationship between Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka, a loving real couple with two beautiful children, is said to be ruining the sanctity of marriage?

This behavior of homophobia is instilled and put into action as early as elementary school; often times it starts even earlier than that. This is all because blurred gender and sexuality lines cause children to harass their peers, or so we're told. In reality, people's identities don't subject them to harmful behavior from others; people who are unwilling to accept these identities do.

Danielle Woodcock is an eleventh grader at Gardena High School.