Dear Human Beings…

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 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!!!

Michelle Joni blonde afroBlonde froMichelle Joni BlondeMichelle Joni blonde

Peace, love, and let’s do this!

270 thoughts on “Dear Human Beings…

  1. “That gestures and faces I make would be interpreted as mocking.” My dear, what would you call them, flattering? You claim that you see Black women as equals, as friends. Do your friends walk around making thug faces in their pictures? If you want to wear a fro, that’s one thing, wear it – but don’t make it a caricature. Fro + glasses + huge scarf + “fried chicken extravaganza”? There is so much to discuss that commenting on a blog post wouldn’t even do it justice.

    And I agree with one of your earlier commenters. Whether or not YOU think that something is offensive is not the point. You have offended others and you refuse to apologize and acknowledge that their hurt comes from a deeper place and from situations that you didn’t try to understand before donning this “fro”. You have work to do

    • your color does not!!! identify ur personality! anyone can pose as they please…u my friend are prejudging this woman and asking her to play a “white role” history of an afro? it is a frackin hairstyle worn by all cultures? there are all ethniticities with kinky hair. Asking someone to act their race is so stereotypical, its sickning! Do u know the stugles Jewish people have gone through??? do u know what the germans did to them??? clearly not. white people are not just white…they are german,italian,irish, polish,greek, and so on. learn ur history they have all had stuggles in the past and its fine frickn time we all live in 2012. the sooner we do this the sooner the cycle of godforsaken racism will STOP!! my poor mixed kids in this petty ass world!!!!!

  2. The only thing I could possibly surmise at this point with your willful ignorance is that you are actually a genius troller who is just trying to get a ‘rise’ out of everyone with some sort of thing that you liken to art. Any other explanation just makes you seem completely dense, insensitive and a poseur, so I have faith.

  3. Listen to yourselves people, it is just hair. Everyone should be able to have whatever hair they want. Hair is hair, it is really nothing more than proteins that grow from our bodies to protect us from the elements. That is all. In life, there should be no rules about how people can dress and express themselves. I personally have not read much of the blog, so I am not 100% aware of what she has been saying, but from reading many of these comments it all sounds so ridiculous. No one should be bothered about hair, clothing, makeup, etc. It is all personal preference and nothing more. No 1 culture owns the rights to a certain style of dress or hair.

    • How many ways and how many times do Black women have to say that it’s NOT “just hair” before you non-Black women believe us? Do you think we are making it up?

      • Thing is, I know a lot of white people with natural afros. So are you saying then they’re stealing this hairstyle from black women?

    • “I personally have not read much of the blog, so I am not 100% aware of what she has been saying”

      So, you may want to read more of the blog. Then you may have more percentages of awareness of what she has been saying. And then you, personally, should leave a comment.

    • By that argument, skin color is “just” skin color–a bunch of pigmentation in a bunch of skin cells. It doesn’t mean anything, right?

      I call shenanigans on you, Christy, and everyone else who thinks that this issue is no big deal, and on everyone defending such New-Age racist drivel masquerading as an embracing of other cultures as part of yet another narcissist’s “spiritual journey” to achieve greater narcissistic and self-serving unenlightenment.

      I call bullshit on you, Michelle Joni, and everyone else who thinks it’s okay to do wrong and to try to justify said wrong with unapologetic cliches. You’re a limelight-seeking narcissist and in the running for the modern-day face of racism in America. Accepting this fact–as opposed to the self-deception comments you claim are facts–is the first step in the right direction.

      The above may seem harsh, but if you ask people to look beyond that ridiculous afro/blonde afro wig to find your good intentions, you can do the same here. I doubt, however, that you’re even still reading non-congratulatory comments.

  4. As a fellow white girl, I IMPLORE you to please go educate yourself on some basic world history and some not-so-basic studies of racial relations in the US and beyond. You live your life under a blanket of white privilege, whether you’d like to believe that fact or not. You are making your fellow human beings feel belittled, disrespected and alienated through your actions. If this is truly a journey of personal growth for you, then start by CONSIDERING and ABSORBING the words of the people you are hurting. Learning to listen and adapt is a wonderful way to grow and understand the world around you.

  5. So now we’re here. I feel kind of weird replying to this because it gives you more attention/traffic/etc. But what’s most hurtful about this is that you fail tremendously to really take in how you’re hurting the people you call yourself trying to learn about. Part of learning about people is knowing what hurts them. You want to know about black people? Read the many books written by prominent black authors. Talk to the black friends you have. Talk to black elders. This though, is not the path. You’re honestly doing more damage than you care to acknowledge. The people backing you need to see this as well. How can you sit back, see people ask you to stop, and just continue? Most of the people responding would be content to point out how wrong this is and move on, but it’s Michelle’s insistence that is infuriating. Any venomous language towards her comes from that anger because reason seems to not be working.

    There’s nothing wrong with learning about other cultures. It’s awesome and more people should take the time to do so, but this (again) is not the way.

  6. 1. I’ve always said that there are certain things white people don’t get, so I rarely bother trying to explain.
    2. I don’t even know how to feel about this, but I know there are more pressing issues in the black community. I’m gonna follow your journey as a supervision of sorts. Rock on.
    3. I hate the blonde wig… is it really blonde? It looks white. It just blends in with your skin and… ew. Go black.

  7. Michelle,

    I just finished up work with WBEZ here in Chicago and co produced a summer series titled Race: Out Loud. We used Studs Terkel’s book Race as the jumping off point for numerous events held all over Chicago with diverse crowds and opinions. WE created the space for people to feel empowered to have real conversations about race.

    Two things:
    1.) If you’ve never read Studs’ book, I highly suggest you do. If you don’t know who Studs Terkel is, I can’t help you.
    2.) When you continue to strap on whatever type of wig or costume you think is challenging perceptions of race, culture, or class – take a moment, look at yourself in the mirror, make those silly gestures like the ones I’ve seen posted in all your photos, and think about what you’re doing. More importantly, and mayhaps this is because I’m a new mom, but are you creating an online legacy to be proud of and passed down? Or are you just having fun and not really thinking about how any of this will play out.

    I am just one opinion out there. But as someone who worked/works really hard to actually create conversations of change, I find what you’re doing childish, lazy, and offensive.

  8. “It would never have occurred to me that in America, in 2012, there’d be so much resentment still.”

    And I think that admission is the reason why so many were outraged when they first heard about your blog. Because in 2012, there are still many reasons for us (African American women with natural hair) to be resentful.

    It’s hard to understand until you’ve been denied a job because of the way your hair grows naturally out of your scalp, or until you’ve been blatantly told that you’d be “so much prettier” or “look more professional” if you had straight hair like the majority. These are things that I’ve personally experienced… in 2012.

    So I think the offense being taken is less about the wig itself, and more about not being able to internalize the positive and negative that can come from wearing the wig. But the fact that you’ve taken all comments into consideration says a lot about your intent, and I personally don’t believe it was meant to be offensive.

  9. From another white girl:
    Just because I’m well-meaning doesn’t make me immune from doing a lot of harm. When we think that we have our hearts set on working for social change and ending racism, we’ve got to to figure out what prevents us from moving through the world with more humility. Without being able to really own our missteps and hurtful acts, (even when we think we are trying to “help”) we will continue to be the oppressors.

  10. This is too corny for me, but i don’t see it as racist. I see it as “tryin’ too hard.” WAAY too hard. For me, the problem is not wearing this hair style..its what you are doing with it. Why are you posing with people you don’t even know just because you have a wig on? If we are teaching by example, allow me to share an anecdote that may insight something..or not. When I was 10, I was the only not-black girl on a summer league basketball team. We were a team. A few girls were really good at braiding, so before big games we would get together and corn row eachothers hair. We wanted to match, it was a symbol of unity, as a team. It was noted that my hair was “slippery” not as easy to corn row, but my friends were not about to leave me out. And the reason I was in pictures with people who wore the same hairstyle was because we were friends, teammates and above all..knew eachother. I definitely stick out and its ok to point out that ” even the little white girl has corn rows too.” But it is evident that I didn’t feel the need to make a blog about it or walk up to people and pose with them because they look like they might recognize that i’m down with them. I’m glad you are attending events that interest you, but I hope you are meeting people naturally and learning about the culture that surrounds the food and music you like.
    I hoped your blog blog was a joke about white people who “don’t get it.” I realized this is actual a sincere miss and not satire. I guess your original intention was to inspire, but i see this and I am uninspired and get empathetic goosebumps of embarrassment. With that said, as it stands, this blog is not serving your intended purpose, but one day maybe you will have a blog about you and your actual friends, actually having a good time, wearing whatever hairstyle you want. My advice, do you, but relax a little..this blog appears trite and contrived. Wear what you want, go where you want, and take in what you want, but that’s it, you know?

  11. i never, ever respond to these types of posts or get involved in these types of arguments, but honestly, is this for real?! she wears an afro, big deal. black women straighten their hair, add blonde highlights, and get weaves, and again, BIG DEAL! telling someone they can’t wear an afro because it “belongs” to a certain race or culture is as ridiculous as telling her she can’t listen to nicki minaj because they’re not the same color; you just can’t do it.

    i’ve lived in many places and observed the way many different people have acted and reacted towards people of different races and cultures, and one thing has been constant: black/african/colored people demand respect and equality, but the race card is always played even when no racism or biased has been shown. i think that type of behavior only makes it more difficult for people who are racist to accept others. by turning the afro into some historical and cultural symbol to signify the struggles blacks have had is absurd. i see non-germans eating bratwurst and it doesn’t mean i view it as them making fun of my family and i.

    rather than ripping her to shreds for something so minor (and really, in the whole scheme of things, is a white woman wearing an afro wig the most important issue you have to deal with in your life?), why not act like adults and choose your battles? i don’t like westboro baptist church, but you will not find me blogging about it, tweeting about it, and starting unnecessary internet drama just because i can.

    by reading some of the comments – and i could only handle a few before i really started to shake my head and laugh – it’s obvious that this is just one more way for women to be catty and dramatic online. it’s pathetic. leave her alone.

  12. People. I think this woman just has a brain tumor or something. Please give her just a little more lee·way before you judge.

  13. I think some of you are being too generous – I don’t think Michelle has any interest in actually learning about another culture. I think she is putting on a costume and watching other people react, and basking in the attention. That’s what she is about – getting as much attention as possible. By any means necessary. She calls this ‘finding enlightenment’ but it is actually just feeding her ego with desperately-needed attention. Well, congrats, Michelle, you self-absorbed, privileged twit – mission accomplished! At the expense of a whole lot hurt feelings.

    You know, the silver lining on this is that so many people have taken the time and energy to explain why what Michelle is doing is wrong, that even though I have absolutely zero faith that Michelle herself will ever ‘get it,’ at least this information is up here for other people who ARE willing to read, think, etc., instead of just getting all huffy that anyone could possibly be offended by what they think is “just hair.”

    I don’t pretend to understand everyone’s point of view always. I also don’t pretend that my point of view is the only one that matters. I know that if I hope to grow as a person, I need to really listen to other peoples’ experiences and feelings on subjects, so that I in turn can better myself and take actions that will be productive in bettering society. I know that if I remain entirely defensive when I offend someone unintentionally, that I will never have a shot of doing better the next time. I really do rely on other people telling their own stories so that I can better understand, so thanks to all of you who have done so much painstaking explaining. It is appreciated.

  14. I’m a little confused as to why you’re lumping black culture together as one large, monolithic entity. Worse people than you will claim that violence is just “part of black culture” and it quickly becomes evident why that’s an ignorant thing to say. Worse people than you will take any other stereotype (Seriously, you chose fried chicken? The most ridiculously overused stereotype against black people by “comics” and Xbox Live gamers alike?) and use it to define an entire group of people because it conveniences their opinion. All Hispanics are Mexicans, and all Mexicans are thugs, amirite? Asian people are less violent because CULTURE YOU GUYS. Ridiculous.

    Black people don’t all originate from one place called Blacklandia where everyone there is culturally taught to love fried chicken. They don’t all have heritage from the same country or even the same continent. They don’t all even live in the same parts of the US, so the woman who grows up in the deep South, where fried foods are everywhere anyway, is going to be exposed to different cultural “things” than the one that grows up in Seattle. Stop treating “black culture” like a goddamn hivemind.

  15. So much high falutin guff being spouted about a white girl wearing an afro wig and what that means. You people need to listen to yourselves. There are so many, more important issues to worry about in this messed up world of ours. It seems to me that part of the reason that the world is in the state it is, is down to folks getting bent out of shape over such insignificant issues.

  16. You will never know what it is like to be black or have a real afro. Not every black woman even has a huge foxy brown afro, some of us have curls, locs, naturally straight hair. You are the worst kind of white person, the type that thinks rules don’t apply, they do. You never will know what it’s like to have to work ten times harder.

  17. All issues of racism, ignorance and callousness aside (which I am by no means discounting), I can’t believe someone would be as self-involved and attention-crazed as Michelle. Get over yourself!

  18. This blog is so laden with your overprivileged, self-absorbed, sanctimonious bullcrap that I just want to hurl. Literally! And all I hear playing in my mind is that scene from the L Word where Jenny says to Mark, “It’s not my job to make you a better man and I don’t give a shit if I’ve made you a better man. It’s not a f..king woman’s job to be consumed and invaded and spat out so that some f..king man can evolve!” Replace the gender references with racial ones, and it’s all about you! Your quest for enlightenment comes at a high cost to black women’s dignity. It is not our job to endure your taunts and mockery so that you can find nirvana. The answer you seek is not here, grasshopper! Take your journey someplace else!!

  19. I truly hope you, in your journey to learn and grow, actually take the time to read everything all of these people have shared with you. My two cents:
    Try an exercise: Go back, read your post and count the “I am, I think, I feel, I would(s)…” It is painful but it’ll help you realize that this issue is most certainly not about you, lady. It isn’t about how you feel when you’re perceived as racist. Is not about you thinking we just need to move on and how is it possible that in America 2012 there is so much resentment. It isn’t about your intent and how the “negative forces” just don’t get you.
    Every race has a history, has a past and with this has it’s very intricate and personal issues. You are a caucasian woman. Why don’t you try to learn what exactly does that mean. Why don’t you study your past, learn who you are. Understand your culture, your world before trying to be someone else.
    See, I am a mexican woman. I see racism everyday, everywhere. People trying to be funny and mocking my culture, my language whilst criticizing my people, our problems, our struggles. So, because I go thru this everyday of my life, it would be totally ok if I wore a hijab everyday, everywhere to try to connect with the mUslim community? Because a piece of their tradition is TOTALLY going to allow me to understand what they go thru, and because I just want to grow, my good intent is going to automatically explain everyone that I’m not mocking! I’m growing, you see?
    No, honey. Is not like that.
    You write: “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!” The saddest part of this is that you are making a total and absolute mockery of the pain that we endure because of stereotypes. By belittling the power that putting people in boxes has in the everyday live’s of some many people, you make it ok for others. And while at it, you are not only shamefully, ignorantly, pathetically playing on black stereotypes, you are finishing your piece with quite the exclamation point by being a walking white, dumb, American blonde one.

  20. I am a natural haired black woman. I dont see the big deal about you wearing an afro at all. I came across a story on you on another site and thought wtf! and why is this even a story. Black people sorry but we do not own the afro! We shouldnt take offense to every little thing. One minute youre ranting about how natural hair should be accepted by all but the next we are attacking a womans right to wear her hair however the heck she wants to. Also, who cares what color it is! Black people are not the only ones with black hair and especially the blackest black hair which most of us are born with an off black color if its in the black hair color family. Those stating she is just doing it for attention be it negative/positve, why are you still writing stories on her and commenting on stories about her, you are only feeding her so called need for attention. The chicken event, please,it wasnt even her event. I have not read your blog but I applaud you for going against what society thinks a young blonde white woman should be doing. The beginning statement I read on this blog is what I thought of too as a kid watching black women in the old 70s movies with a big fro they were bad ass! I just cannot see the racism in your actions I just dont. Have you said some racially insensitive things that I missed? A chicken event smdh, I suppose even without a wig some black ppl would have had a problem with you showing up at all.I didnt like your other afro pics but this background shot of you is amazingly cute(and much better than the blonde one sorry lol). I wish everyone including black people would stop labeling everything as black/white. If I listen to Britney Spears Im trying to be white, white people listening to rap are trying to be black if they mimic the movement of their favorite rap star they are mocking black ppl and therefore racist, like seriously stop it already! Its the same thing little black kids did back when videos actually came on MTV,we would be trying to act out the video. Leave this woman and her afro alone, its her hair. As I saw soemone write on a natural hair blog in reference to weaves, she bought it so its hers! LOL! And that brings me to another point which I read on the story that led me here. She can take off her wig but we cant take off our blackness. Seriously! Why do youcare that she can switch up her hair ? We can flat iron ours and not be accused by other races of trying to be like them or of mocking t hem because we can get in the shower pouf the hair back curly and “take off” the whiteness! Seriously, thats what you wanted to point out!? Black naturals wear weaves and wigs all the time in the name of protective styling, some wear them continuously without ever showing their natural hairr. What is the difference? This woman just seems like she fascinated by a texture she wasnt born with and instead of altering her natural hair she uses wigs. She doesnt wear her wigs everywhere and neither do those of us who use wigs as just a quick change when we want to go out and have a different look! Maybe if she wears the wig only to events that are a majority black, she might wants to simply feel a part of the group, fit in, some ppl do things like that so what. I got my first perm to fit in with my sisters(im in the middle but had”good” hair so I wasnt allowed when they first got theirs) and the kids at school so what. I did not see one good point in the whole article that I read as to why you should stop wearing your wigs. I think you should experiment with different lengths and colors but I could care less about you wearing your wigs. Maybe if a whole group of white ppl wore them to an all white event mocking blacks and doing stereotypical black things then I would better understand the outrage. Black people especially natural haired women are becoming a bit too sensitive. Its freaking hair if you are so worried about what others think of your natural hair, or feeling mocked cause a white woman can take her afro textured wig off at night but you have to wake up in the morning with your coils then maybe you should go back to the relaxers/irons/pressing combs because you obviously skipped out on lessons in wearing your hair with pride! It shouldnt but it does take a stronger woman to walk around these days with her curly/loc’ed hair out and if things like this offend you then strong you are not. She doesnt know what its like to care for healthy natural hair, and you dont know how to care for healthy straight hair, but wigs/weaves/extensions are the quickest way to experiment and dont act like you naturalistas dont go out and but the straightest wigs and weaves you can find. Pot meet kettle!
    Sorry about ranting on your page like this but man that story irritated me. Made me miss my at work nap time lol.

    • Take several seats. You need more people.
      Read a book, go to Howard, do something to help you figure out this discussion is not about comparing apples to apples.

      • Sorry only one seat needed. I’ll save the rest for you and the other people on here mad because a white woman is wearing your afro. I don’t need to go to Howard my school is just fine plus if Howard is teaching black women to attack others over a decision to wear their hair a certain way I’m glad I’m not there. I don’t need to find any litAstle thing to go on and on about how it oppresses our people. As for the apples, I don’t know what you are referring to as I noted in the op, I was rambling I am medicated for chronic illnesses and the meds cause me to ramble and I’m not reading that whole just to be able to tell you to each his own. I don’t have to agree with all the naturals who take offense to this woman having an afro. Plenty other races have tightly coiled hair. The afro is not yours! Btw once you stated for me to take several seats I knew that we could never be on the same page. Even medicated I can spot true foolishness and this lady just isn’t it.

  21. Just acknowledging your privilege doesn’t make it go away. You obviously still miss the point if it “would never have occurred to me that in America, in 2012, there’d be so much resentment still.” Of COURSE there’s still resentment, people of colour and women of colour are still massively oppressed “in America” and your privilege lets you deny that.

    Adopting hairstyle that is a signifier of racial pride of another race doesn’t give you insight into that oppression, it just gets you attention while presenting none of the struggle that is associated with that hairstyle. You don’t understand the maintenance of that hairstyle, the discrimination people can face wearing it, the way being told that your NATURAL hair is wrong by society, your family and friends affects a person.

    You continue to be blinded by your privilege. It’s disappointing that you haven’t learned anything from reading “all your blog posts, your tweets, your comments and the articles.”

  22. I don’t think you’re a bad person. But I do think you’re an idiot, and a dangerous one at that because this is the kind of stupidity that spreads like wildfire. You would have been better off shutting this blog down and going off to blog about whatever bullshit you life comprises of aside from degrading people.

  23. If you need a fake gimmick like to be interesting you have other issues.
    I can not believe that this blog is still up after all the time that people have spent telling you how it makes them feel. If you truly meant to do no harm, and now realize you have, an actual apology, admission of a mistake made, and a deletion of this blog would likely be your best route.

  24. Maybe if some of you black woman took a deep look at what it means to have an “afro” then you would love yourself a bit more. I’m black and I’m natural have been for a large amount of my life. When you get past the notion that this Afro is not the American or worldwide standard for beauty and actually believe in your mind that it’s beautiful and not as that damn sacred then maybe the thought process of the media will change. I see so many women defend Natural hair in the wrong way, in a way that is super defensive, and exclusive. We aren’t the only race our mixture of people out there with Kinky hair, I’ve seen white women with the same curl pattern as my black friends. It doesn’t need to be dissected it is what it is. I’ve seen a indigenous village in Asia where Blacks migrated 1000’s of years ago and mixed with Asians. They have Asians with wide noses, and Kinky 4C type of hair. I’ve seen blacks with naturally blonde hair , red hair, brown. I think that people really need to just say to themselves that natural is beautiful, and prove it without the extra commentary and sass. She obviously feels like the media should show this type of hair, natural hair, Now personally I would have picked a better wig, there are tons of really cute natural hair wigs out there that look better that what you have girl! Get with the program! i get that it’s a white women who is clearly obsessed and in awe of what it means to be black or understand the culture to me, she gives the impression that she sees it as beautiful, and wants to understand it, Not sure if this is way to go about it, but i get it.

    There is so much crap going on in the world, someone tried to blow up our Americans on us soil last night. If anything we need to realize that no matter how the media portrays us, getting flustered over something as little as hair, is not what we are about. They hate us as a whole, they don’t care and half the time if they can read these sites they see that we are focused on the wrong things.

      • ;* guess I left an impression on you. Must be strange for you to see women who aren’t letting the white MAN get them down. Maybe you missed my point. This is one white woman that occasionally likes to wear an afro! Big freaking deal. Maybe if she got all her white friends together and they all for a whole stereotype blacks show then maybe I could see the point but its one freaking lady! One! And you strong black women are letting her hair hurt your feelings? There’s more important things going on. I didn’t let relaxer grow out of my hair to be a part of a movement I did it because I’ve always preferred curly hair. Maybe if I did it because I didn’t want to feel oppressed anymore I’d understand you. Didn’t anyone learn to have thicket skin? Why are you guys having panic attacks over a woman with a wig? Ok I’ll bite, I’m curious, what’s the point that I missed? Perhaps I’m too aloof to be as bothered as I should. It’s a nice afro no bugs no trash stuck in it no critters running out. Looks clean so shouldn’t be smelly and I’d bet its soft, none of the things typically associated with negative views of blacks with natural hair. I just don’t get it so yes I’ve obviously missed the point so tell me as simple as you can, explain why I, as a natural black woman, should be mad at this one woman I’ll never meet about her hair.

  25. This is the goofiest shit I’ve seen on the internet in a while. If you want to wear an afro wig, wear an afro wig. Who gives a shit. Just don’t act like you’re breaking down stereotypes or starting a conversation or walking in someone else’s shoes or whatever you’re trying to get across here because you slapped a wig on. You’re a clod.

  26. Listen, I’m white. I want to be a good ally. And i screw up all the time. I do my best, and accept and listen to people of color when they are kind enough to point out my mistakes. And really, sunshine, you have been treated with so much generosity and kindness. Quite frankly I’m shocked, because I am not sure you deserve it. But listen, I understand being white and screwing up race. When you have privileges (even privilege that you didn’t ask for and think are wrong) it’s easy to slip up, because we are not faced with thick daily. We get to see all sorts of different types of white people doing all sorts of different things in *ever* *media* outlet out there. So here is what I did. I thought, I want to be a better white person. I don’t want to just be a white person who thinks I’m finished with the work because I don’t use cliche words of hate. So, here are two places for you to start: take off the wig, and read this blog. Read it carefully, and thoughtfully. Now. Don’t respond to it. Go out and act it out:

  27. When and if you decide to wear your hair like this everyday, to work, with family, I would be interested in the push back you get from your non black associates. It is many of them that need an education and an open discussion. Black people have been educating themselves and discussing this situation for centuries; so there is nothing new about a new discussion. But non black? I wonder what their discussions have been about for centuries in regard to black people? I’d hate to assume.

  28. I get very uncomfortable when a person is confronted on their offensive behaviour and they choose not to stop and evaluate it.. but rather carry on with more fervor and conviction then they had when they first began. This entire blog is exactly what white privilege is.. I don’t think you are racist, but your behaviour is..and your refusal to educate yourself and understand why you have no right to wear that ridiculous afro reveals how lost you are in your bubble of unearned privilege. You have no idea and will never have any idea what it is to be a black women, and slipping on a large afro whenever you feel to will not bring you closer to whatever black women power consciousness you are trying to achieve. You are actually making a mockery of our hair and our experiences with your nonsense. The wigs are a part of a costume (that should be “this is a bad idea clue #1) and don’t even slightly resemble how black hair grows out of our heads. and by the way ?uestlove was making fun of you if you didn’t realize with that instagram post…And saying you are attending a fried chicken festival and then saying.. “this is an obvious occasion to wear the fro” racist..So your attempt to defend it failed. The bottom line is this, my hair actually grows out of my head in the way you are pretending it grows out of yours. Its my hair…You are wearing a costume wig. Its offensive. And its obviously hurting people, so why are you defending it so hard? Have you stopped for a second to look at the history of this? This is no different than wearing black face…Just stop and go educate yourself.

  29. “let’s do this”

    if you’re serious, then go all in. recruit at least three bloggers: a woman of color with straightened hair, one with natural hair, and a black man (i vote for ?uestlove).

    sit down with your new team and work out how best to facilitate the kind of discussion you say you want.

    then, let’s do this.

  30. Michelle, from one privileged white woman to another: PLEASE take off the wig. Even the blonde one. I’m saying this to you as a person who has done (on more than one occasion, unfortunately) pretty much exactly what you’re doing now: I wrote something unintentionally racist, black women (and a lot of other people) called me on my racism, and instead of taking their criticisms to heart I just kept trying to explain why they shouldn’t have been offended. The more criticism I got, the more I thought everyone was ganging up on me, and the more indignant I got. I hurt a lot of people badly before I finally understood why I was wrong, at which point the damage was done. I didn’t think I was being racist. I didn’t mean to be racist. I WAS BEING RACIST. YOU ARE, TOO.

    When dozens of black women are telling you that what you’re doing is offensive, it’s not because they just don’t understand what you’re trying to accomplish–it’s because you’re doing something offensive. Intent isn’t magic. “I didn’t mean to offend anyone” doesn’t mean you didn’t, and it doesn’t mean what you’re doing is okay, and it doesn’t mean you should keep doing it.

    Post an apology (a real one), put the blog on hiatus, and start doing some reading. You can start, actually, with all the comments on this blog–but instead of reading defensively, open your mind and read for comprehension. Do research–not just about the history of the afro, but also about the politics of black hair in the present day. Learn about the natural hair movement and why it’s still, in 2012, a revolutionary act for a black woman to wear her hair as it grows. Learn about the cultural significance of black women’s hair until you understand why it’s offensive for you to put it on like a hat. Follow black women’s blogs–reading without commenting. Research the concept of white privilege until you can recognize your own. Look at all the resources Kelly named for you in her comment. DO NOT demand that black women to do all the work of educating you. And when you finally have that “hoooooly shit” reaction and that feeling of shame in your gut, that’s when you’ll know you’re informed enough to think of starting to reexamine this project. But in the meantime, recognize that you’re hurting people, and STOP DOING IT.

  31. I just quoted your words here with a few changes, so you see how you sound:

    “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. [Bagels are] an American 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 [Jewish] culture, which just happens to be associated with my [prosthetic Jewish nose], I am not mocking! ”

    You still don’t get it.

    If you wear that afro EVERYWHERE, and not simply pick and chose “black events” because they are “fun”. I’d be very interested in seeing if you actually learn something.

  32. Hello. I am a white cis bisexual fat female who has naturally blonde hair and blue eyes. Never in the entirety of my life have I been pressured to have black hair or black features. The only ‘*isms’ I’ve faced have been related to my being a woman and being fat and being bisexual. Have you even considered like, taking off that invisible backpack of yours and figuring out what your privilege is and checking it at the door before you join the community of lovers and fighters for equality? You’ll get wrecked for not checking all that scheiße at the door. I tend not to weigh in on things such as the hair of women of color because, as stated previously, I am naturally blonde and realize that my experience has phuck all to do with the hair of a woman of color. But at least I am aware that hair is a big deal for women of color, particularly women with African roots. Even Chris Rock made a film about the hair of black women, and it is not just about putting on a freaking wig and experiencing the world in a brand new way. The personal is political, dollface, and you need to remember this when walking around the city with a huge afro on trying to change your world view. As good as your intentions are, as positively you feel about issues of race or hair or anything at all, you grew up with a certain amount of privilege that really makes your viewpoint on this topic confusing and it has left me sitting here pondering why oh why this is the world in which we live. I need to take a shower and I keep putting it off to type more in this comment box. Le sigh. STOP! IT’S SHOWA TIME.


  33. Pingback: My Faults | before and afro

  34. I haven’t read all the comments, so I hope I am not repeating what has already been said, but here is my opinion. You got this right:

    Racist (Noun) – A person with a prejudiced belief that one race is superior to others.

    Most of us know this is right, but we label all sorts of things racism that has nothing to do with believing one race is superior to another. People are offended by all sorts of things that are not racism so that when real racism occurs, it isn’t dealt with the way it should be. We need to never react to anything that isn’t true racism and we need to react swiftly when real racism occurs. We should let everyone know that true racism will not be tolerated and that just because something is called racism doesn’t mean that it is. When we mistreat a person because of his or her race (regardless of what race that person might be) that is racism.

    • right on. i believe that making fun of something really important to me is mistreatment. “when we mistreat a person because of his or her race…that is racism.”

      therefore, “beforeandafro,” which trivializes and makes a LOT of fun of my racial characteristics, is racist.

  35. Wow… I’m glad that this shitstorm is raining down on you, because YOU DO NOT GET IT. So depressing to read that you think that changing over to a blonde wig is going to stop the racial implications you’ve stirred up. It must be so nice to live in a world of #whitegirlproblems. Literally sitting here seething with disgust, and hoping that a larger media organization picks this up and calls you out for the racist that you are.

  36. “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.”
    Do you see how many “I”s you used in those sentences. You’re still making it about you and YOUR feelings. Newsfalsh: IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU AND YOUR FEELINGS! Do you know how much shit black women get for being natural, which may result in an afro? Do you have any idea what it’s like to be out dancing with friends and to have random white girls come over to you and ask to put their hands in your hair? Not your WIG, but my ACTUAL hair. My hair is not a “statement” or a “rebellion” it’s freakin’ hair that grows out of my head. You putting on that wig was mocking, whether you meant it to be or not. That is the thing about privilege and racism, just because you didn’t intentially mean for it to be offensive doesn’t actually matter. It was offensive and the fact that you can’t see that or try to justify it just means you are defending your own privilege instead of actually aknowledging your wrongs, which adds insult to injury.

  37. You just don’t get it. Its really sad. For years, black people had to live in this country feeling ashamed of their their ethnicity and culture because of the negative stigma behind it. The “afro” is, indeed, a hairstyle that is empowering for our race, but you are making a mockery of it by wearing it as a costume. You can remove your afro at anytime and metaphorically remove your “blackness”, but black people cannot do the same. Are you familiar with Jane Elliot? She is an American teacher and anti-race activist. She formulated an exercise called the “Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes Experiment. It was an exercise that allowed students to experience societal racism using eye color as a control. One eye color group was given special treatment, while the other eye color group has to experience hurtful discrimination. This taught students how it feels to be apart of specific ethnicity and be discriminated against.

    Journalist, John Howard Griffin, participated in a similar experiment during the fifties. He forced himself to go through a series of treatments to give himself darker skin, so that he could live his life as a black person. But he did not go to “Fried Chicken Extravaganzas” and take goofy pictures with Questlove. He went to the deep south, a place that was extremely dangerous for blacks during this time, and he lived his life in our shoes in order to experience what it was like to be us. In the end, he and Jane Elliot learned about our strife and contributed important knowledge to the world about the importance of respect and racial equality for the black race.

    I feel like your “Before and Afro” blog is very similar, but the experience and message is all wrong. You think that partying in a cheap party city wig and plastic 70s themed costume glasses is liberating, and beneficial in helping you understand our culture but you haven’t EVEN scratched the surface in understanding what it feels like and means to be black. If you want to embrace our culture, why not push this fiasco further and darken your skin like John Howard Griffin?

    Would you be willing to live in black skin? You can easily remove your wig but if you darkened your skin you would not be able to return from this experiment so easily. Would you feel liberated still if you went to a store to buy a pack of gum and someone automatically thought that you were a thief because of the color of your skin? Or would you feel insulted, hurt and angry? Would you still be empowered?

    These are things you have to considered when you choose to cross lines like these. You may see this as “all in good fun” or a way to “find yourself”, but there are so many underlying issues that one have to deal with when they choose to enter this territory.

    Long story short, you don’t know as much about us as you think until you “walk a mile in our shoes”.

    Just some food for thought, maybe it will help you understand better. You may think you do, but after viewing your blog I don’t think you understand much about our culture and how we feel about race and social acceptance,

    • your color does not!!! identify ur personality! anyone can pose as they please…u my friend are prejudging this woman and asking her to play a “white role” history of an afro? it is a frackin hairstyle worn by all cultures? there are all ethniticities with kinky hair. Asking someone to act their race is so stereotypical, its sickning! Do u know the stugles Jewish people have gone through??? do u know what the germans did to them??? clearly not. white people are not just white…they are german,italian,irish, polish,greek, and so on. learn ur history they have all had stuggles in the past and its fine frickn time we all live in 2012. the sooner we do this the sooner the cycle of godforsaken racism will STOP!! my poor mixed kids in this petty ass world!!!!!

    • your color does not!!! identify ur personality! anyone can pose as they please…u my friend are prejudging this woman and asking her to play a “white role” history of an afro? “our shoes?” being all of the same race does not make u all the same. u are prejudging urswlf. and assuming ones assumptions about our race! it is a frackin hairstyle worn by all cultures? there are all ethniticities with kinky hair. Asking someone to act their race is so stereotypical, its sickning! Do u know the stugles Jewish people have gone through??? do u know what the germans did to them??? clearly not. white people are not just white…they are german,italian,irish, polish,greek, and so on. learn ur history they have all had stuggles in the past and its fine frickn time we all live in 2012. the sooner we do this the sooner the cycle of godforsaken racism will STOP!! my poor mixed kids in this petty ass world!!!!!

  38. I will keep this short since countless people giving you long arguments about privilege and internalized racism have not gotten through to you. If someone–anyone! (not to mention literally thousands of people, because that’s how many we’re talking about here)–finds something you are doing offensive and/or racist, do NOT dig in your heels and get all defensive about it. Listen to what they are telling you. Really, REALLY critically look at what they are saying and try like hell to understand it without instantly trying to make the counter-argument–which, frankly, if it’s “Hey, it’s 2012! Get with the times! Racism’s dead! Except for against afro people, and that is my journey. Namaste,” then it is utterly meritless. I think some small part of you understands that and is terrified that you’ve made a huge mistake (you have!); hence the switch to blonde.

    Between the whole concept, your defense of what you’re doing, and the post about your friend who went to India, ate, prayed, and loved, and came back enlightened enough to start a consulting business, I’m starting to think that maybe this is one massive troll job designed to piss people off. But if I’m wrong and this is all actually sincere, please listen to what I’m saying.

  39. “I was born into this life a white blonde woman. I look at black women and see powerful equals.”

    Unfortunately you do not–as proven by your blog pictures. Your “thug” poses, with your lips pushed and the outlandish clothing, tells people that you categorize an entire race in some bizarre personal fantasy by acting like a figure in a bad music-video. I’m not saying you are racist, I’m saying you need help. You want people to feel sorry for you and many of us do…in a very, very different way than you probably think. I will pray for you.

  40. I almost hate that I’m adding to the foot traffic on this blog but I am so beside myself. You say that Racism isn’t welcome here and that is fine and dandy BUT ignorance lives quite comfortably on this site.

    Why exactly does wearing the afro mean that you put on flashy makeup and clothes when in your before picture you look remarkably understated? If you had decided to set your lovely blonde locs on perm rods and cut it to a shapely fro, I may have said “Well that’s interesting.” But you know good and well you don’t want the repercussions of wearing tightly textured hair permanently. To me, it looks like when you put that wig on you chose to turn into a character, you are seeking attention and you want to force everyone pat you on your back for being so “free.” One commenter asked do you go to work like that… I’d really love to know the answer to that. Do you go to work, to your place of worship, to your family functions, etc. wearing that wig? Or is that the kind of freedom you don’t want?

    I’d respect you so much more if you owned up to the fact that you have done this to attract attention to your blog. That you knew it would be controversial (Fro’d Chicken – so blatantly offensive). That you know your choice to be a caricature of people (like myself) who wear their hair in an afro is offensive. You have to know these things… you have to.

  41. I do not believe you are racist. You don’t have to think you’re superior to offend people of another race. That doesn’t make you a racist. Of topic…where did you purchase your blonde wig? Where did you purchase your black wig? Just curious. Also I don’t know if this is my programming coming out but I think the blond wig compliments you. I like it.

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