The Black Millennial vs The Black Baby Boomer - THE BATTLE!
Whatever You Do... Never Say The Word Nappy!!!
Whenever I am about to type something personal or deeply triggering, I always choose the musings section of my blog. It is as though I am sharing the experience in privacy. What I want to discuss today was a very emotional and triggering experience for me. It opened up so many old wounds so quickly, that I briefly lost my superwoman mask and the tears of the inner child began to flow. This experience taught me something. I think I write these articles because it is the only way I can get these thoughts and feelings out of me.
Most of my life I felt as though I did not fit in. Anywhere. Not really. In recent months our nation has become SO polarized. People are beginning to lose their humanity. Yesterday, I posted in a Black Hair Group on Facebook where I thought I was safe to discuss issues about my hair. However, I was attacked in a fast fury attack of nastiness. I have never been at the receiving end of that much hatred before. During the worst of it, I experienced what it feels like NOT TO FIT IN once again in my life. It was actually a mind expanding experience. It was painful but I had several epiphanies. Okay, I will explain in further detail.
The group in question was a group dedicated primarily to Natural Black Hair Care. I had posted in the group before and I never felt like an outcast. So I felt comfortable sharing my past history with my hair. I never expected to get attacked. I never experienced anything like this in the group before. However, I have been attacked by Black females in person before. In fact, someone had the audacity to tell me that "I was Voted off the island."
Apparently, I am not allowed to complain about my hair. I called my hair nappy and the group broke out in an uproar. I was told that my complaints about MY OWN HAIR was an insult to others. I was told that "My hair was not kinky or coily enough". When I said that I had 4 quality hair, they erupted in an uproar. I STILL can not believe what happened today. I went there to share how I felt relieved that I no longer wore wigs or weaves and that I am no longer ashamed of my hair. I told the story of how growing up I was told that I had "bad hair", because it was always matted. This is why I still use that term to this day. People made fun of my hair as far back as I can remember. I had no idea that saying that I had "bad hair" was like committing an offense to others.
For over 30 years I hid my hair under wigs and weaves. I never exposed my real hair. Ever! I think this experience hurt most because I was being 100% honest about what I went through with my hair and just being myself. It was so liberating to finally be me. I felt like I just learned to love and accept myself in my 50's. So I did not expect the massive onslaught that occurred, it was so bad that my daughter stepped in after a few hours of abusive posts and wrote a long discourse telling them that their behavior had reduced to tribalism. It had gotten completely out of control. I am still in shock that nothing I SAID appeased them. It seemed like every word out of my baby boomer mouth offended them. I was at a lost. My daughter posted one message and they calmed down almost immediately. That is when I realized that this was not so much a dark skin vs light skin or kinky hair vs wavy hair battle. This was a Black Millennial vs Black Baby Boomer battle. The mindset is completely different. The words that can be used are different. If you say the wrong word they will attack like a pack. It was frightening to see how it mushroomed into a near catastrophe.
Apparently Baby Boomers and Millennials speak a completely different language. I simply said what I was always told. That I had "Bad Hair." Now, what did I say THAT for? It opened up a huge can of worms that I never even knew existed. Today I realized that I apparently do not fit in with my own people, or who I have always thought were my own people. I have never felt so ashamed of being me in my life. I never thought that I would be attacked for complaining about my hair because people would think that I was somehow putting others down! It was a distressing situation. In fact someone wrote: "Boo-hoo, poor you, you are just upset because you did not get hair you expected." It is not that I expected it, it is that it was painful being made fun of because of how I looked. And I was. My grandmother in particular, used to say my hair was matted and some other words which I will NOT repeat because they caused a firestorm in the group.
I have never had ANY advantage looking the way that I do. At least as far as I can recall. I think the combination of my skin coloring and hair, just angered them. It was a weird experience. I never felt that I was somehow disadvantaged or advantaged because of my hair quality or skin tone before. I never felt there was anything special about me ever. So, it felt like I was being attacked for simply being different and which was a weird experience. I had the distinct impression that there must be some weird war raging among Blacks in general when it comes to coloring and hair. There is an Afrocentric movement which I wanted to embrace, but they appear to be selective. (At least in that group).
My daughter told me that it did not help my case at all that my Facebook profile picture looks exceedingly pale and my husband is white. My daughter's husband is also white and blonde, so this was not helping my cause within the group any. I was completely ostracized. What bothers me is that I really did experience difficulties regarding my hair while growing up, so their barrage of attacks and claims that my hair was 3 quality and not 4 quality confused me. They felt that I somehow threw "shade" on 4 quality hair people by saying I did not like my 4 quality hair. It was painful because I really do have serious issues concerning my hair, but they did not grasp this. I did not show my real hair for over 30 years and recently went natural in the last year, so their attacks were extra painful. I finally attempted to join "my people" but they rejected me. (At least in this group) People started posting THEIR hair pics and yelling at me. It became a feeding frenzy which descended into people telling me that I was somehow being privileged in some way. HOW??? I have NEVER felt privileged my entire life.
I wanted to share this experience because today I felt what it feels like to be discriminated against by my own race. Someone literally wrote: "You have been voted off the island." My question is why? This is still upsetting to me. Why? I have never felt that I was NOT BLACK ENOUGH in skin tone, hair quality or knowledge until today. I just was not accepted by them and my words rejected. I admitted that my mom is rumored to be 1/2 white and my dad was from Puerto Rico, but I just grew up Black. I have always been Black. I will always be Black. Period. I just do not know about THE NEW BLACK RULES OF ENGAGEMENT because I have not had exposure to many people lately. I am very private, I live in the Pacific Northwest only have a few friends here and they are not Black. I grew up originally in New Jersey, in a primarily white neighborhood and I was one of only two black girls in my entire school (and she was basically related). I have experienced an inability to make friends with people of my own ethnicity all my life. My best friends were all blondes, all my life. It just happened that way. I think what hurts most about today was that after finally venturing outside of my insulated shell, I was rejected by the very people I thought would embrace me. I learned today that within the Black community a new phenomena exists. Apparently skin can be too light and hair can not be kinky enough to be accepted. In essence I was rejected by people of my own race. Now there seems to be this weird issue among millennials about being ultra Afrocentric. It is almost like a pissing contest to see who can be the most Afrocentric. Today people of my own ethnic background turned on me like ravenous wolves. It was frightening. I have never experienced anything like it my whole life.
In conclusion, I ask this: Was my experience due to the age barrier, the changes in vocabulary and speech from 30 years ago? I referred to my hair as nappy because I was told this as a child. All my life in fact. So I was completely taken aback today when those same words would open up a hell-storm that I just could not quell. I have never in my life felt privileged in any way, shape or form by my appearance. I have felt like I had a privileged MIND, but never from my appearance EVER! Anyone who knows me well, can tell you that I am wracked with deep feelings of insecurity due to past weight issues. The fact that I battle self-esteem issues is what made the experience in the group a life-changing one. I cried a lot. It hurt. It brought out every hidden fear of not fitting in that I ever had. I cried out to my husband on Skype about how painful it was to have one's very identity attacked. I have been Black all my life. When did it become popular to shame people for not looking BLACK enough? When did THIS start? When did it become a competition among Black women to have the kinkiest hair? When did that start? What is happening in the world right now? Has racism and prejudice gotten SO bad that now the dark turn against the light? Certain individuals apparently feel it is okay to shame other's who do not have kinky enough hair to meet their approval.
I am not sure if this was about my hair or skin tone, or simply that I am a baby boomer living in a millennial world. I think that I simply said words used by many people over 50. I used the word Nappy once to describe my hair and all hell broke loose literally. How was I to know that I can no longer talk about myself as I always have. The world has changed. Words that I have always used (all my life) to describe my hair are no longer allowed in today's society. (At least not publicly) Today was an eye-opener and it was a frightening one. I am grateful that I have a highly intelligent "Millennial" daughter who came to my rescue. Once she made her post, the negative responses slowed down IMMEDIATELY. What is this inside language that Black Millennials speak that I can not seem to speak? This was a real eye-opener today. I am grateful to my husband who loves me just as I am. I am grateful that I am old enough to know who I am. I doubt I can change much at this point of my life. I am now considering simply leaving the group because it appears to be toxic.
About The Author: Adrienne Igo has more than 20 years in the Recruitment Industry, she runs several small online businesses and is an online social and digital media consultant. Adrienne Igo once was 500 pounds and spent more than 7 years in a wheelchair before beginning a personal weight loss journey in 2013. She went from a size 54 dress to a size 12. She currently has over 500 dance and motivational videos on YouTube.
Recommended Product: Getting Rid of Fear and Kicking Anxiety To The Curb!