Months ago, I went to get my hair pressed at one of the few natural hair salons in my area. The salon is run by a dark-brown skinned mom of two daughters, who often are with her when she works. The youngest daughter was very clearly biracial; she pranced around in her little cute dress, hair combed, and couldn’t have been older than thirteen. Her oldest daughter looked almost exactly like herself except a little darker and a little taller. However, I noticed that unlike her younger sister, she wore old beat up clothes, her hair is uncombed and matted looking.
While her sister was free to run about the shop doing whatever, without so much of a plea to sit down, she was barked at constantly to sweep the floor or clean some tools and wasn’t even allowed to sit down for a few minutes and read. Like many hairstylists, she overbooked and made the oldest daughter wash my hair, where I was lucky enough to have a conversation with her.
I learned her name, that she was 15 and extremely interested in studying biology when she went off to college. She was funny, incredibly smart and well-spoken, not unlike many other black girls I know. I also found out that the unique name of the salon was the namesake of her younger biracial sister. At the end of the service, I tipped the stylist, as well as her daughter for washing, detangling, and conditioning my hair.
Almost immediately the stylist snatched the money from her daughter’s hand and shouted that she “knew better” and commanded her to go to the back. I was shocked, taken-aback and disgusted at how she treated her own child who was almost her spitting image. I wish I could share some heroic story of how I stood up to the mother and demanded that she give the tip back because her daughter did do a lot of the job for her. But I didn’t… I left vowing never to return.
Although the situation left me feeling uneasy, what was even more upsetting was that it was a situation I have seen many times before. I knew that what I witnessed in that salon paled in comparison to her treatment behind closed doors. So why do many black mothers do this?
There’s no question that systemic racism and indoctrination takes most of the blame for the inferiority complex that leads to the mistreatment of dark-skinned girls by their own mothers but how long are we going to use that as an excuse? It’s 2019, if you don’t understand the psychological impact of colorism you’re either not listening, don’t care, or refuse to know. The salon owner, not to make too many assumptions, fell under the category of an educated, middle class black woman. A far cry from the stereotype of black women who are projected to display this behavior.
In fact, some of the black women I know interpersonally, regardless of background have shown some sort of favoritism of light or biracial, over dark, or unambiguous black features. It really feels like there is something very deeply ingrained in our people when It comes to colorism.
Personally, I believe that we are under real generational curses that are in desperate need of breaking. I don’t really know what to say in this article, other than just disgust at how Dark skinned girls are treated and how black moms really need to do better. I think it’s up to us, millennial black women, those of us who want kids anyhow; to break the curses of our fore-mothers.
Liv is a new blogger for DDS Magazine. She graduated University in 2018, with a degree in History & English Lit and in her free time is an avid creative writer, History & Fashion enthusiast, as well as a cat-mom to three kittens. When she is not creating, she works at a children's non-profit and enjoys spending her weekends doing Pilates, hiking, shopping and indulging in Sci-fi novels.