Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Brother, what did you to your hair? What Happens When Black Footballers Meet Relaxers...

I've rekindled my romance with European (mainly Bundesliga, Premiere League, Seria A and La Liga) football (that's soccer for the North American readers).  It's just a world class sport and I missed it. Maybe it's because my favorite team, FC Bayern is doing so well.  Maybe it's because the World Cup is coming up? Maybe it's my eternal crush on Zinedine Zidane....  I don't care, it's just a pleasure to be tuned back into a sports world that I understand and can enjoy watching (you can keep American football with its endless commercial breaks and basketball with its hyperactive pacing).  Ninety blissfully uninterrupted minutes of play, players who's faces you can actually see, crazy footwork, plus at the end of every season relegation is at stake - that and the stories/rivalries below the surface are what I love.

As I'm watching these matches, though, I'm seeing something that makes me tilt my head in puzzlement: Black players with straightened hair.  Here are a few (with before and after, natural vs their straightened looks).

(clockwise from top left: David Alaba, Kevin Prince Boateng, Emmanuel AdebayorNeymar)

Hmm. When I straightened mine did I look like that? Experimenting is cool, but we're not fooling anyone, are we?. We don't look less ethnic just because we've chemically straightened our naps.  (Is that the point subconsciously? or no?)  Besides, embracing the kinks and coils is a lot less work than keeping up a perm, relaxer, Japanese straightener, Brazilian blow out....whatever you want to call it (they're all the same thing: chemical straighteners). No, I never cared about hairdos like Snoop Dogg's or Katt Williams' or Al Sharpton's - I guess because those are old fashioned to me or because they're long styles?  I don't know.  It just seems more jarring when the hair is short because it so unnecessary - I mean, when it's short you're brushing not combing it, so it's not as if you're straightening it to make it easier to style. You're doing it for the sole purpose of imitating Euro men's hairstyles.  I'll be honest, I think Neymar's retro mullets actually work for him and maybe Alaba's spikes are more flattering for his face shape, but something about it all leaves me feeling sad. Why? Aren't I being judgmental?  Even hypocritical? Why do hairstyles on Blacks always have to be related to consciousness of their Blackness?  Why does it even bother me?  And is it just a huge male fashion trend that I missed? Are Black/African and Mixed/Bi-racial men all over Europe rocking these looks successfully? To each his own, of course. Their hair = Their business. I'm just surprised - at it and at my own reaction to it...

Whatever....  It all just reminds me of that hilarious scene from Malcolm X when he's got a lye relaxer on his head that's burning his scalp so much that they have to hold him down until he can't take it anymore.  :-)

Malcolm X The Movie, Barber scene by pun-pun

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