Chris, Margie, and Dany in Paris
Dear Ms. Obama:
Let me commenton the psychosexual and racist implications of your wearing shorts as you deplaned from Airforce One recently and your older daughter's deplaning with nappy hair from the presidential hearse in a later picture.
Here is where you can make strides if you have moxie: in dress and in hair.
First, the shorts: Keep on wearing them, especially when you deplane from Air Force One. The people who swooned over your so-called First-lady impropriety would have you go back to bustles and corsets if they had their way. Make it OK for First Ladies and all ladies to wear shorts when they are going on a hike after deplaning.
Nobody says a thing about men's attire except to be laudatory. President Obama could exit Air Force One in a thong, and the masses would applaud it because he is a guy, and guys rule the world. The guy-rule privilege attitude would follow if he deplaned in a Renaissance codpiece: same oohing and aahing about his cool and with-it attitude toward sartorial shibboleths.
Now hair: The NYT has an eye-opening piece today about how black women struggle with straightening or not straightening their hair. It seems black women's hair straightened ranks more acceptable to whites because it does not call attention to black women's nappy halos of unstraightened hair and seems more "white."
First, your daughters: Let Sasha and Malia-I get them mixed up- wear their hair as they want to. Be noncommittal but supportive. I think it would be a good thing if they both chose nappy. I think it's cute and idiosyncratic. The white girls will be jealous that they
lack nappy hair.
Here, again, guys are home free. Black men solve this problem with very short haircuts like that of your husband. That's a chicken-out. Robert Oppenheimer didn't cut his huge height of wiry Jewish hair until he needed to get national-security clearance and propitiate the bigots on the committee. The fact that he was a genius was not the answer to his freedom to wear big hair most of his life. His being a guy is the reason. A guy benefits from the permissive attitude of the public, and Oppenheimer was forgiven for being Jewish along with sporting nappy hair.
Here's your big assignment regarding making nappy hair a part of the American demographic. You get some leeway in this task because if you go nappy before the next presidential election, kiss the White House goodbye. None of the president's rhetorical flair will get y'all out of the uproar that the Republicans will make. Rush Limbaugh will go berserk. Your nappy hair will be part of the national dialogue and how it symbolizes your affinity for socialism and implies the denigration of white women, the ones the Black men raped in the South and got strung up because the carpetbaggers who invaded the South after the North defeated the South in the Civil War didn't bring as one of their nostrums IV Viagra to juice up white guys and make them feel sexually equal to the Black men.
Bide your time. After Mr. Obama gets elected for the second time, go nappy. No in-between gestures: I mean mega nappy. Stop straightening your hair at that strategic moment in history to begin the diminution of racial tensions. Somebody has to be first. I nominate you.
The slaves that you emerged from didn't straighten their hair. They were too busy picking cotton for the white man. Make your ancestors your role models in this matter of nappy.
Non-nappy, straightened hair signals slavish obeisance to white prejudice that keeps blacks in their place: down.
You now participate in that obscene prejudice, Ms. Obama, by having your hair straightened.
After the second election for Mr. Obama, say so long to temporizing. Go unashamedly, triumphantly nappy.
Nappy hair is not a black-only condition.
I come from a
My oldest daughter, Cathy, inherited this out-of-control Anglo nappy hair. She let it grow until she had a foot-long nappy wreath around her head in high school. She looked astonishing: splendid and astonishing.
One day she came home from school, the flossiest, most snobbish high school in town, with her hair in its nappy glory.
I looked up and saw her profile against the laundry-room's window.
"Cathy," I said, "what do your classmates say about your hair?"
"Mom," she replied, they call me Lion Girl." Cathy pronounced this anti-establishment riff with intrepid self-confidence.
We lost Cathy when she was only 28. I will always cherish that "Lion Girl" comment from her high-school years. It showed Cathy's confident insouciance and willingness to buck the prevailing winds of social prejudice.
That memory makes me proud of my oldest child. She called the high school Dancerettes "The Danceroos."
I hope your daughters are as brave and as intrepid as was my Cathy.
Lee Drury De Cesare
Proud mother of Cathy De Cesare