I’ve read them all. All your blog posts, your tweets, your comments and the articles you have sent me – and wow. I was completely unprepared for this. The fact that people feel I have been dressing as a caricature of a race is not acceptable to me. An act of genuine hair admiration turned into a vicious act of “white privilege” in the eyes of many, and that is a terrible feeling.
I was born into this life a white blonde woman. I look at black women and see powerful equals. I see friends, colleagues, people I admire and care about. It would never have occurred to me that in America, in 2012, there’d be so much resentment still. That gestures and faces I make would be interpreted as mocking. And frankly, I’m saddened to learn that an afro – a statement of natural beauty shared by so many cultures – isn’t put on the same pedestal as the long, shiny, bullshit hair you see in the Pantene commercials. There is so much pride associated with the afro – why does the comparison have to be so stark?
There is so much to say on the topic, but when it comes down to it, there is one thing above all: I’m deeply upset that I have offended people. Human beings have felt hurt because of something I did. With all sincerity, I apologize if one of these people was you. I want to make it better.
So I’m making some changes around here.
Firstly… I’m an wildly unlikely person to be spearheading a conversation like this… but hey, it landed on my blog. I could easily shut the blog down with an apology note and start blogging over at michellejoni.com. But a poignant conversation that is MUCH larger than me and my actions has surfaced here. I’ve gotten a tremendous amount of insight – into the way people feel they are viewed and treated – and it has opened my eyes. Progressive and liberal mean entirely different things to different people. I’m certain I’m not the only one who is reading and gaining from all this – so I’d like to open the conversation up to people of all ethnicities – let’s bring on the stereotypes! But first…
Racist (Noun) – A person with a prejudiced belief that one race is superior to others.
Racism not welcomed here. Just because a person points out differences between their race and another race does NOT indicate that person feels superior. Let’s be constructive, open and honest with each other. It’s 2012. Fried chicken is an American food. It’s a Korean food. I think it’s one of the most delicious foods on earth. By pointing out that it’s also something very much embraced by black culture, which just happens to be associated with my afro, I am not mocking! If I felt I was mocking, I’d stay far away from it. If someone did a blog post about chicken soup and related it to Jewish culture, I would not be offended. It’s true, we think chicken soup can heal illnesses, and it’s kind of weird. And I’ll embrace it. I know there is more to the story because of black history and the discrimination that is tied to all of it, but Jews have been through their fair share, and it’s time to live in the now. If we talk about all this openly, my hope is that we don’t have to dance around the issues and the obvious. That we can learn communicate it in a way that perhaps next time won’t make someone feel belittled – and won’t make the person who said it seem like they had ill intentions.
So let’s throw it out there on the table. I open up the conversation for ALL races to share their frustrations. Are you discriminated against in the workplace? Is there a certain stereotype that haunts you? What would you like people to know about your culture and upbringing that can help us better understand you? What is ultra sensitive to you – and why?
Secondly… many of you asked why I chose a black afro, and not something more my coloring. And although there was no racial implication – simply a choice in aesthetic – you know what? That’s damn good idea!
I’m going blonde, baby!!!
Peace, love, and let’s do this!