I was having a particularly stressful day trying to find a good Adult Day Care provider for my mother who has Alzheimers when I got a Facebook message from a friend.
My friend messaged me about the Gabby Douglas Twitter buz because I've written about the intersection between Black women's hair and social status. She naturally thought I'd be interested in the story. (In case you're reading this and don't have a clue what I'm talking about – Gabby Douglas, the U.S. gymnast who won Olympic gold in both individual and team gymnastic events this week has been the topic of much discussion in social media around – of all things – her hair!!)
I responded to my friend's message with:
We've got local police departments buying drones, more vacant homes than there are homeless people, people dying because they can't afford decent healthcare, polar ice caps melting at rates unheard of in recorded history, Anaheim police walking around with weapons that look like grenade launchers to stop protestors from entering Disneyland and oh... . yeah Gabby Douglas' hair.
I'm kinda new to posting on the Daily Kos. This is only my 2nd entry. The only reason I decided to keep a diary here at all is because I was so blown away by Netroots Nation. I attended for the first time in Providence, Rhode Island this past June and made the decision that I wanted to be more involved in this community even though I maintain my own blog at http://www.laprogressive.com
I'm not sure of the rules here at the DailyKos and I hope I'm not violating any -- but if it is okay, here is a link to the story I wrote that addresses what I call the "Other N Word - Nappy".
What we see in this Gabby Douglas debate is similar what is now called "colorism" except that this discussion is about hair texture. Never-the-less, the goal is the same, to establish a social pecking order based on external factors that rank European physical characteristics at the top and African physical charateristics at the bottom.
People of color, especially Black people are aware of the color based hierarchy that exists within the Black community.
Some call this pecking order of sorts, "pigmentocracy". Similar to the racial caste system that has existed in the Americas since colonialization, colorism is another way of establishing a social pecking order but it is internal to the Black community.
Colorism gives unearned advantages to Blacks of lighter complexion and demeans and degrades Blacks of darker complexions. For white people reading this who are unaware of this practice, there is a test known as "the brown paper bag test" that was used to determine where your skin color placed you in the pecking order. Being darker than a brown paper bag put you at the wrong end of the pigment spectrum.
So, this is what the buzz is about around Gabby's hair. I wasn't going to write on this but then I saw that Huff Po had featured it and frankly, I thought that Arianna gets enough traffic. Might as well throw my hat in the ring.