I cannot believe we have to have this conversation. Although I see it over and over again, I continue to be stunned by the complete lack of respect and utter disregard their wellbeing that is shown towards little black girls. With that in mind, I'm not sure why I expected things to be any different for Blue Ivy Carter.
When Jay Z and Beyoncé welcomed their first child into the world, there was naturally a lot of excitement. Two of the most famous humans on Earth procreated—of course we're going to be interested. Initially, there were a lot of jokes about Blue Ivy but most were humorous takes on the observation that, wow, Blue Ivy is a newborn and already has a better life than I do. They were funny and lighthearted and didn't make her the butt of the joke.
But as Blue Ivy got older and we began seeing more of her, some of the commentary shifted to cruel wisecracks about her appearance. The most recent and high profile occurrence came yesterday during an episode of BET's 106th & Park when Karrueche Tran—who is known solely for
putting up with dating Chris Brown--joked that Blue Ivy's parents never comb her hair. Even though it obviously wasn't written by her, the joke was unfunny and rude and stupid.
However, Tran is by no means the first person to crack this joke. I've seen similar sentiments make their way around Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr for about a year now. It's important to note that the majority of this criticism comes not from white people—who probably don't even know enough about black hair to see the so-called issue—but other black people.
So much about the "controversy" surrounding Blue Ivy's hair is rooted in the deep history of colorism in the black community. Since the day we were brought to this country and colonized elsewhere around the world, black people have been conditioned to hate the color of their skin, the texture of their hair and any other characteristic that deviates from a white standard of beauty. By killing someone's self esteem, you kill their sense of self-worth, which results in a myriad of issues, many of which we still see today. It also teaches people of color that their personal beauty increases the closer it is to traits commonly associated with whiteness (i.e. lighter skin and straighter hair). It is sad and profoundly untrue.
This is not to say that when a black person straightens their hair or alters their hair color, they're trying to be white. Rather, the problem is when they believe one attribute to be better or more valuable than the other.
Crissle West, a writer and host of the popular podcast The Read, discussed the subject earlier Tuesday on Twitter by noting the difference between the way Blue Ivy and fellow celebrity baby, North West, are spoken about. She hit the nail on the head by stating that the concern is over the texture of Blue Ivy's hair, which is nappy/kinky/textured—whatever you want to call it—and uniquely black. (Please note, this is absolutely not the time to bring up your so-called "Jew fro." The issues that black people face regarding our hair are not the same as anyone else's and please stop trying to convince yourself that they are.)
Blue Ivy has an adorable little afro. Her hair has not been styled into perfectly separated ringlets or slicked back or laid down in some way. She wears her hair the way it grows out of her head and that is what people are so bothered by.
All of the issues of racism and colorism aside, at the end of the day, if you feel the need to comment on the state of Blue Ivy's hair, know that you are a grown adult making fun of a child. Some will try to look like less of a jackass by insisting that they're really critizing Jay Z and Beyoncé, since Blue Ivy has no real control over what is done to her hair.
The suggestion seems to be that they are somehow neglecting or are not properly caring for their daughter—as if her hair looks that way only because they couldn't be bothered to tend to it. First of all, Jay Z and Beyoncé are incredible wealthy and have the ability to provide every conceivable service, treatment or product for Blue Ivy.
But it's not just about wealth and the having means; they clearly love their daughter and she always looks well cared for. The night of theVMAs, her hair looked clean and healthy. It was detangled and moisturized and accessorized with a bow to match her gold dress. It was all intentional and you would be stupid to assume otherwise.
But perhaps the most importantly thing to remember here is who the hell asked you and why do you feel the need to comment? I don't recall Jay Z and Beyoncé soliciting your sorry ass for advice on how to raise their daughter and I highly doubt you would want someone doing the same to you. In doing so, you simply reveal your own prejudice and lack of self-esteem. You look like a bitter, miserable person.
Instead of spending so much time worrying about Blue Ivy's hair, perhaps take some time for yourself and do some soul searching so you can understand why you're so damn bothered by this little black girl's hair. Get to the root of why you're so unhappy with yourself that tearing down Blue Ivy Carter makes you feel better. Because seriously, you have to be a special kind of wayward asshole to take shots at a toddler.
Lede image via Beyonce.com; Second image via Getty.