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Poll: Is It Racist to Say This Girl 'Looks Like She's Going to Jail'?

Illustration for article titled Poll: Is It Racist to Say This Girl Looks Like Shes Going to Jail?

Well, is it?

The Beauty Department, a beauty blog co-founded by famous animate grosgrain ribbon Lauren Conrad, has gotten itself into some Internet Trouble over a post called “Cool Pool Girl Hair”: a very short tutorial on how to put deep conditioner in your hair and then braid it, which begins with the line “Okay, she kinda looks like she’s going to jail, but I promise she’s not.”

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Hmmm!!!

Commenters on the site immediately began calling out the obviously bad look:

Wow, give a girl cornrows and ‘she kinda looks like she’s going to jail’? Maybe have a think about this one... Amandla Stenberg’s got some good ideas if you’re stuck.

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Kristin Ess, the hairstylist who wrote the post, replied:

Wait… tell me why this has anything to do with race or culture? She looks like a bad ass who is standing in front of a gate you guys. And I stand by my opening line… because if I were going to jail I would wear my braids for a low maintenance look. My goodness, you can’t say ANYTHING on the interwebs anymore.

Some commenters were like, “I love you Kristin but this is still kinda racist,” and other commenters were like, “Um, the girl in the pic is white, so what does this have to do with race?”

Apparently all of you that find your self offended don’t appreciate the intent of the article. How to condition your hair while at the pool.. not how to style your hair if you’re in jail. The girl in the photo is a white girl so clearly nothing about race. Not a very intelligent arguement, why don’t you practice the tutorial and do something productive with your time.

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Kristin Ess then left a comment saying that everyone who thinks she was racist was “associating braids and jail with black culture.”

Illustration for article titled Poll: Is It Racist to Say This Girl Looks Like Shes Going to Jail?
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The retort that anyone who brings up race is The Real Racist is a common idea among conservatives and people who hate thinking about American history—a comment often followed up with “It’s not about race, it’s about class” or “How are we ever going to achieve a postracial society if you keep bringing up race all the time.” It’s also just statistically and historically wrong to dissociate cornrows—or, unfortunately, incarceration—with black life in America.

But hey, what do I know. I have an idea: let’s take a poll about it. What do you think?

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DISCUSSION

HaHaYouFool
HaHaYouFool

Accidental racism is the most frustrating thing about Whiteness to me. I feel like White people are so much more concerned with appearing (to themselves as much as to the world) not to be racist than with actually not BEING racist that it’s impossible for them to cop to it when it happens on accident. Like, how bad would it be if your response to people saying, “Uh, that’s a bit racist, man,” were “Oh, shit, I didn’t even realize it could be construed that way...I was thinking about the imagery with the chain link fence there...Sorry, guys. My bad”? The answer is NOT BAD. No one would hate you for being a racist if you admitted to and apologized for accidental racism. They would thank you for your apology and encourage you to keep your eyes and heart open. They will, however, castigate you for being an obtuse shithead who is unwilling to learn or grow when you refuse to admit or acknowledge the racist aspects of what you’ve said/done.