Illustration for article titled iGlamour/i Attempts To Negotiate Peace Between Blacks, Bitchy Redheads

Not only did the Israelis meet with the Palestinians yesterday! Glamour Magazine met with black people. The topic at hand was Ashley Baker, the white former fashion blogger-editor from Kansas who told a bunch of lawyers that Afros and dreadlocks were a corporate "don't", although maybe she didn't exactly say that but either way now she's gone like Yasser Arafat, and yet institutional racism remains. Which is why, as many of the people who attended yesterday's event pointed out, Ashley's alleged statement was actually fairly accurate and pragmatic advice. What to do? No one knows! We weren't invited, but the reviews are in and it sounds like an amiable star-studded gabfest, replete with Veronica Chambers and Court TV's Jami Floyd and moderated by NPR's Farai Chideya, with one notable exception, chronicled by (white) blogger Girlbomb.

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Kicked out of prime seat by A/V guy; denied alternate seat by snotty redhead, "waiting for [her] friend."
Who is bitch kidding. Bitch has no friends.

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And, like, that would be the main problem: how are white chicks supposed to really confront their own racism if they can't even acknowledge their own inhumanity to other white chicks? Can't we all just get along, etc? Seriously though, if you want to know more, Girlbomb dutifully paraphrased most of what everyone had to say a la:

Panelist Daisy Hernandez of ColorLines: Yeah, that's not really a surprise to the rest of us. So, do you have any non-white chicks working at Glamour, or what? Also, Jami, what's up with your straightened hair?

Jami: Hey listen, I had to give up a piece of my self to get this job, and it sucks, but I do it, because I have bills to pay, and they are not letting me on Court TV with my 'fro on.

Audience member: But WHY would it matter how you wear your damn hair? Can we just say that it's because people are racist, and that's bullshit?

Jami: Look, white men are in charge. I said I was conflicted about it! Did I mention my mortgage?

Oh man, your mortgage. Don't tell me it was adjustable-rate! There's a social ill that all races can agree on right about now. Although, as usual, traditionally oppressed minorities are faring lots worse.

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DISCUSSION

@Leiakat: Do you have any examples of how the word "racism" has been used inaccurately? Any time skin colour (or hair texture) is discussed as being meaningful, I think we can use the term "racist" without fear of getting it wrong. Skin colour is self-referential. It only means something insofar as we invest it with meaning - and this is racism. Any time an ethnic group is singled out for a particular treatment, for reasons based solely on their ethnicity, it is racism. Race-based discrimination happens all the time, on big and small scales. Perhaps the word "racist" can be considered a marker of awareness, rather than as an attack weapon.

@SkippingTowardsJaded: The curl-pulling! This is exactly where my experience of racism lies - in the everyday, unthinking remarks and actions, often highly inappropriate, by which white people let me know that I can never be normal like them.

White folks: race isn't something that happens to other people.

Being white is not the normal human state. Straight, frizz-free hair is not normal hair. (Neither is curly hair. Neither is blonde hair, or red hair, or brown hair.)

White skin is not a blank slate. It is not a clean sheet. White skin is not the standard from which others deviate. White skin means a certain experience, just as rarefied as any other racial experience. White skin means certain treatment and expectations. White skin means that some people will love you, some people will hate you, and some people won't give a shit.

And I know I'm preaching to the choir when I say RACE IS NOT A BLACK ISSUE. Institutional racism is control by means of discrimination - a tactic which can be (and has been) used against many peoples, including women. Someone telling a black woman that she must process her hair is as arbitrary as a workplace demanding a set spoken pitch range, or a law decreeing that all children aged 5 1/2 must skip instead of walk. In any other context, the rule would seem absurd. Take away the racial references - assume, for a moment, that straight hair is not considered the norm - and the dictum is ridiculous.

We need to confront such ridiculousness wherever it lies.