There are lots of things that black people in the US should be protesting right now. High unemployment. The extreme loss of wealth. The gutting of the Voting Rights Act. Gun violence. The entire state of Florida. Yet one of the main things to dominate the news lately is the hairstyle of a particularly famous 2-year old. It’s one of the few things I don’t think we need to worry about.
About 5,000 plus people disagree with me.
Here’s how it started: A woman was so frustrated with the hairstyling of Blue Ivy Carter, the child of superstars Sean Carter (Jay Z) and Beyoncé Knowles, that she created a petition on Change.org to urge her parents to “properly care” for their child’s hair—or more explicitly—comb her hair. She subsequently said it’s a joke but the debate goes on.
That’s because with the multibillion-dollar-black hair care industry, the issue is far bigger than little Blue Ivy. It’s about the politics of respectability and the pain of oppression, a fear of deviating from “the norm” that remains particularly prominent among the black elite and the black middle class.
There aren’t many high profile examples of beautiful, powerful, and rich black families in America, outside the president and his wife. Jay Z and Beyoncé are among them, though. They made it. They, and their alleged traditional ideas of marriage, have become the ideal, the aspiration for many, who constantly hear about pathologies that exist in the black family. Their marriage and, by extension, their offspring, have become more than just about the glamorous lifestyle of hip-hop royalty, but some sort of symbolic “dream.” They’re the Cliff and Clair Huxtable of our time.