The politics of hair – Neal Boortz edition

[Welcome Buzzflash readers!]

I haven’t blogged on this topic in ages, but every once in a while, something crops up that brings it front and center, though the deeper issues involved aren’t usually addressed — and so that’s when I post about it again.

Let nationally syndicated radio bigot Neal Boortz show you how hair politics bullsh*t is done. He’s talking about Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), and what is and isn’t an acceptable assimilationist black hair style in his mind. (Media Matters):

BOORTZ: For instance, or for goodness sakes, jump in and I’m gonna say — I’m gonna start out with something controversial. I saw Cynthia McKinney’s new hair-do. Have you seen it, Belinda?

BOORTZ: She looks like a ghetto slut.
SKELTON: Well, how is it?

BOORTZ: It’s just — it’s hideous.
SKELTON: Is it braided? Or —

BOORTZ: No, it’s not braided. It just flies away from her head in every conceivable direction. It looks like an explosion in a Brillo pad factory. It’s just hideous. To me, that hairstyle just shows contempt for — no, it’s not an Afro. I mean, no, it just shows contempt for the position that she holds and the body that she serves in. And, I’m sorry, there’s just no other way to — it’s just a hideous and horrible looking —

…MARSHALL: It looks better than the braids she was wearing.
BOORTZ: No, the braids had some dignity. They had some class.

MARSHALL: The braids had dignity?
BOORTZ: They had more class than this thing.

MARSHALL: This says, you know, kinda 2000s, you know, stepping up to the plate. Contemporary look, you know?
BOORTZ: She looks like Tina Turner peeing on an electric fence.

This bastard is a racist prick, and you know what? I bet he doesn’t have a clue how or why he feels the way he does about her hair — this sh*t is deep and internalized by Americans. It’s a topic no one likes to talk about.

Just so you know, that new hairstyle McKinney is wearing is called a twist-out. I used to wear it that way on occasion before I decided to loc my hair. You can do a twist-out this with unaltered, kinky hair, or, if it’s not too damaged, with relaxed hair. I can’t really tell in her case. You can wrap it wet or damp around rods or in two-strand twists. Once dried you can take it out and shape it; no hair spray needed if your hair is in a natural state.

It’s a fierce style – I don’t think it’s inappropriate for a member of Congress, though it might be non-conformist, which I think is one of the surface objections Boortz has to the style. McKinney’s braids might have received the same scorn as this new ‘do had she worn them out and loose, as opposed to pulled back, as women with straight hair do when they wear their hair in a bun. It’s clear that the Hill has its unofficial, drab “dress code.”

I would venture a guess that Boortz would have had serious problems with her conservative braid style a decade ago; braids were not considered conservative or acceptable on the job in many places, women of color (or to be more specific, women with kinky hair), if they wanted to succeed professionally (or often even keep their jobs), had to torture their hair and scalp with lye-laden relaxers to “tame” it to assume European styles — the old good hair/bad hair beast rises again. It’s as bad as the whole brown paper bag test of the black upper class.

The Freepers, I might add, show their racial moxie and affinity with Boortz with some choice quotes.

Actual Freeper Quotes™

“Listen to Sha-Nay-Nay….keep your cracker hands to your damn self.”

I ain’t birthin no babies!

She looks like she stuck her finger in an electrical socket.


Did they use a Taser on her?

“Mrs.C don’t take no jibba-jabba from no security guard fools!”

Don King’s long lost daughter?

Good Lord. I’m surprised she doesn’t get tackled every time she goes into a store.

Buchwheat LIVES!! When I saw the presser today, I had NO idea of who that crazy woman was….really….she looks so damn different!!….and NOT for the better!!


Yes. Racism is dead.

From one of my earlier posts on this topic, a reason why McKinney’s “hair defiance” is not about disrespect of her position, but a simple acknowledgment of “difference” and personal acceptance of her hair. That’s threatening in ways that Boortz isn’t conscious of, but it brings that visceral reaction you read right out there into the open.

The bottom line is that many black people are turning away from the chemical processes used to straighten kinky hair. Permanent chemical treatments, like perms, texturizers, alter the hair from its natural state. Sadly, the majority of black women don’t even know what the texture of their hair actually is, because they have undergone the lye (and the lie) from the time they were young — when they were told that kinky hair = bad hair. If they didn’t get that relaxer as a young child, then they underwent the torture of the hot comb.

I was old enough to experience the “pleasure” of the thermal hot comb –you rested it over the gas flame of the stove to heat it up. Then the grease was carefully applied to your hair and that comb sizzled through the kinks till it was bone straight, hissing as you prayed the comb didn’t touch your scalp — inevitably you got scalp burns because the “stylist” f*cked up. [By the way, the “stylist” for most folks was usually a relative, but in my case, everyone in my family had straight hair, so my mom had to take me to a salon till she figured out what to do.]

Once the chemical relaxer came into vogue it was the same problem with a different twist, it became a watch-the-clock endeavor to see how long you could leave the vile-smelling chemicals on to achieve maximum straightness before your scalp started to peel, burn and get open sores. Anything for that damn straight hair.

Why would anyone do this? It can’t be because it’s fun or easy to maintain. Black women who wear their hair in straight styles obsess about it all the time. Don’t let it get wet, humid or exercise too hard because if you do, it will “go back” at the least opportune moment. At this point and time, the problem is two-fold:

1) an internalized self-loathing passed down through the generations of being told your natural hair is a “problem” and “fixing” it by using such extreme measures is a means to assimilate into the dominant culture … and

2) the dominant culture still has bigoted ideas about blacks and kinky hair that can profoundly affect the employment of, and treatment of people. This of course, means #1 will continue to occur.

So to Neal Boortz, this “ghetto queen” says “Vaffanculo.”

NOTE: You can file an FCC complaint against Boortz; reference the original audio of his diatribe, which is posted at Media Matters.


UPDATE: I’ve not posted here about the police/McKinney incident because we don’t have all the facts yet (there’s apparently a videotape of the incident, which I haven’t seen). Quite frankly, in the end, it’s probably going to look like both sides are in the wrong to some extent. Yes, race probably is a factor, also on both sides (McKinney’s post-incident posturing undermines cases of blatant and extreme racism that is still rampant in society).

Whatever the facts of the incident end up telling us, the fact that, Neal Boortz took the focus back squarely on her hair to denigrate her is both racist and sexist. Debating her behavior in the incident is one matter, but it’s telling where the RepubliKKKan thinking goes.

Does this make McKinney’s press conference race card bloviating justifiable? No. Does it mean the way she was treated has nothing to do with race? No. Is she being punished for deigning to think she should have been recognized? Maybe yes, maybe no. Was it presumptuous to think she should be recognized? I don’t know.

I do know personally of a few high-minded folks (not of color), in one case a well-known academic who plays the “don’t you know who I am?” card. I hate when someone uses that crap to get rules bent or to get off the hook for boorish behavior, particularly abusive acts toward people of a lower social standing than themselves (service workers, administrative staff).

It was a beautiful thing to hear that, on one occasion, the academic pulled that crap on a service worker and was told “No, I don’t know who the f*ck you are and I don’t care.”

There is a controversial post by John @ Americablog on the McKinney incident with the cop, as well as a very hot thread of comments pro and con.

All I know is that it’s too complicated an issue for easy answers or finger-pointing.

UPDATE post with a busy comment thread: Filing an FCC complaint against Neal Boortz

* My own hair journey is here.

Click here for more fresh Blend.

Late Nite FDL: It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp


Update:  TBogg has more on tough-talking mama’s boys gonna f**k up Yearly Kos.  Oooh, paintball.

Jonah Goldberg has decided Jill Caroll is not conducting herself appropriately following her captivity.

I have no doubt it would take Jonah Goldberg all of 5 minutes to go into Ring Ding withdrawal and offer up his fellow captives for a slice of pizza.  Within 10 he’d start to cry because they wouldn’t let him call his mom. At 15 minutes he’d don a scarf and leap in front of the camera no gun to his head necessary, and by 20 he’d be coughing up whatever secrets he had.   Alas the location of the vending machine keys at the Corner would probably be of little value to Iraqi insurgents.

Of course this is all absurd because Jonah has no interest in going to Iraq, not now not ever.  He is, however, quite willing to give the poor an all-expense paid visit there, provided that upon their return they profess approprite undying hatred of brown people.

Jonah can clearly be of more benefit to the war effort on the homefront as the GOP’s answer to Julia Ward Howe, penning anthemic songs (more…)

You got a chickenhawk on your back, boy.

Armed with axe handles and pockets full of nickels for the slots, the 101st Fighting Keyboarders, Wolverine division, descends upon Sin City. Posted by Picasa

It starts out quite innocently. One night you’re reading The Killer Angels in bed and you notice you feel a little tingly down “below deck”. You nudge your girlfriend, but she’s got her eyes closed real tight as she pretends to sleep while trying to figure out if she should tell you that she wants to see other people or that she has just discovered that she is a lesbian and, “no”, you can’t watch. Next thing you know, you’ve got your buddies coming over for all night Risk games, but eventually they drift away, get married, have families, have lives.

Now you start hitting the hard stuff: warblogging. Hours spent condensing the combined wisdom of Sun Tzu, Victor Davis Hanson, Carl von Clausewitz, and Tom Clancy into brilliant 13,000-word posts. But you find you can’t sleep at night because you want to be the first to shout “huzzah” when Mark Steyn puts up another column about the rise of the Islamojihadidhimmifarians and how Europeans, and by extension, Americans aren’t making enough white (more…)

Another flip flopper on fed marriage amendment – Ohio's Mike DeWine

“Marriage is the issue today. Anyone who opposes the marriage amendment is starting to understand that it is a death knell to the family movement. You cannot oppose it and expect the pro-family movement to support you.”
— former porn addict Phil Burress, head of Cincinnati’s Citizens for Community Values, letting DeWine know he’s on notice to fall in line — or else.

Like John McCain cozying up to Falwell on marriage for his ’08 bid, Ohio Senator Mike DeWine is worried about his re-election race and rounding up the wingnut vote and — gasp — flip-flopped — on his opposing position on both the Ohio and federal marriage amendments in 2004.

Was he for it before he was against it? Just wondering. I smell the flopsweat of desperation here; DeWine must feel the campaign of Dem Sherrod Brown breathing down his back. (The Columbus Dispatch):

Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine said yesterday that he will take a lead role in pushing for a U.S. constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, at least in part to regain support from unhappy conservatives in his state.

…[T]he amendment is symbolically important to social conservatives across Ohio, many of whom were disappointed in 2004 when DeWine did not support an Ohio constitutional amendment to define marriage as solely a union of one man and one woman. That issue sparked a huge turnout of conservative voters who helped President Bush win re-election.

Although DeWine is expected to easily win the May Republican primary, he faces a stern challenge in November from Rep. Sherrod Brown, of Avon, the likely Democratic nominee for the Senate race. To prevail, DeWine will need a heavy turnout from conservatives, many of whom are unhappy with him on issues of same-sex marriage and curbing immigration.

Two years ago it was a completely different story coming out of DeWine’s pie hole. He had reservations about the amendment and said the time to discuss it was not “in the heat of a presidential campaign.” The big kahuna is that he actually said that he preferred to have the courts — whoops, woudn’t that be the activist judges — rule on state bans of same-sex marriage.

How’s he going to reconcile that little bit of business?

Hat tip, PageOneQ

Transgeneration is out on DVD

The eight-part Sundance Channel verite-documentary TransGeneration, which captures a year in the life of four transgender college students, has been released on DVD this week.

Lucas and Gabbie

Raci and TJ.

If you haven’y had a chance to catch it on Sundance, I highly recommend seeing it. Kate and I saw a 2 hour cut of it at last year’s NC Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, and T.J. was there for the Q&A.;

Hat tip, Hothouse.

George Bush’s Favorite Democrat: Running Scared


Last night Holy Joe was openly booed by his own party, which indicates he’s known all along something we only suspected.  When Lieberman went on the attack early in the game and started raising Ned Lamont’s profile I speculated that they must’ve had some really awful internal polling.  Why else would Lieberman be calling attention to a candidate whose biggest problem is that few people know who he is? 

Recently Lieberman has been desperate to convince journalists that he is not, in fact, "George Bush’s favorite Democrat" and he has not ALWAYS gone along with the Bush Administration.  You know, like the time he voted against Samuel Alito in that really meaningful symbolic floor vote (after his cloture vote that actually put Alito on the bench).  Which suggests to me that although polls may show Lieberman ahead of Lamont, the polling question that probably puts Lieberman in the shitter is:  "How would you vote if you knew that Joe Lieberman was George Bush’s favorite Democrat?"

Members of the Connecticut Democratic party certainly know where Lieberman’s true loyalties lie.  And they didn’t even bother to hide their open contempt for Lieberman last night.  Which says to me:  it’s just a matter of getting the message out. 


Another closet case serving Dear Leader?

Andy Card stepped down this week, and Josh Bolten was named as his successor as chief of staff to the Preznit. Josh sounds like an interesting guy…Mike Rogers over at BlogActive seems to have caught on to something: Josh Bolton dated David Dreier’s ‘beard’.

So, the new White House Chief of staff is unmarried and brings his mom to official events. It’s not that fact that has many in DC raising eyebrows this morning…. It’s that apparently The President of the United States thinks his new Chief of Staff is worthy of the same treatment as that closet case David Dreier.

White House Chief of Staff with Official GOP beard, er, um, I mean Bo Derek.

Josh, I don’t know if you’re hiding something…. Trust me, if you are, Bo Derek is not very good at hiding some things.

Click over for more.

The Army bans privately purchased body armor

Support the troops! Support the troops! Support the troops!

But don’t let them try to protect themselves when the REMFs in the Pentagon can’t get them the body armor they need:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Soldiers will no longer be allowed to wear body armor other than the protective gear issued by the military, Army officials said Thursday, the latest twist in a running battle over the equipment the Pentagon gives its troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We’re very concerned that people are spending their hard-earned money on something that doesn’t provide the level of protection that the Army requires people to wear. So they’re, frankly, wasting their money on substandard stuff,” said Col. Thomas Spoehr, director of materiel for the Army.

Sorry, son, we’ve got no body armor to give you, but we can’t let you go buying any body armor that might be weaker than the body armor we’re not giving you.

Are there any Republicans out there who are willing to take a stand for the troops?

“Outrageously we’ve seen that (soldiers) haven’t been getting what they need in terms of equipment and body armor,” said Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., who wrote legislation to have troops reimbursed for equipment purchases. “That’s totally unacceptable, and why this directive by the Pentagon needs to be scrutinized in much greater detail.”

Didn’t think so. Holding our government to account for the shameful lack of support for the troops, especially when Halliburton is raking in profit hand over fist even when they don’t fulfill their no-bid contract obligations, why, that’s so much harder than slapping a magnetic yellow ribbon on the back of the Town Car, ain’t it?

Still, it isn’t unimportant for the military to have safety standards:

“I don’t think the Army is wrong by doing this, because the Army has to ensure some level of quality,” said Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “They don’t want soldiers relying on equipment that is weak or substandard.”

But, Rieckhoff said, the military is partially to blame for the problem because it took too long to get soldiers the armor they needed. “This is the monster they made,” he said.

Indeed. You don’t want your soldiers going out and buying substandard armor and fighting as if they are fully protected when they are not. But tell me how substandard armor is worse than no armor at all? If someone is shooting at me and I don’t have a helmet, I’ll gladly throw a deep saucepan on my head and call it good enough for now.

This wouldn’t be a problem if not for the incredible incompetence and lack of planning by this administration hell bent on going to war.

Military officials have acknowledged that some troops — often National Guard or Reservists — went to war with lesser-quality protective gear than other soldiers were issued.

“We’ll be upfront and recognize that at the start of the conflict there were some soldiers that didn’t have the levels of protection that we wanted,” Spoehr said. Now, he added, “we can categorically say that whatever you’re going to buy isn’t as good as what you’re going to get” from the military.

And that shipment should be coming any day now, Private. Now get yer ass back out on patrol!

By the time this Iraquagmire is over, the Republican Party will have lost the military vote like the Democrats lost the South after the Civil Rights Act. And when they push that national debt to $10 trillion, they’ll lose the fiscal conservatives, too. It’s too bad it is going to take over five thousand dead soldiers (just you wait), over half a trillion dollars (mark my words), a domestic attack that makes 9/11 look like toilet-papering someone’s house (I imagine sometime around October 2008), and a major economic depression (try to avoid the sidewalks near Wall St.) before enough Americans can get past stopping the gays from doing whatever it is they’re upset at gays for doing and finally vote in their own self-interest and for the good of America (c’mon, America, vote for the lesser-evil of the two corporate whore parties in these next two elections, will ya?)

Sorry for the rant, but as a former National Guard troop with a National Guard brother-in-law spending his fourth year on active duty after signing up for two years as a part-timer, I get just a wee bit emotional about soldiers, especially Guardsmen, getting the shaft from their government… a shaft with Halliburton’s logo on it, thrust in forcefully without lube by oilmen in business with the House of Saud. I fantasize about having the power to snap my fingers and magically transport Pretzeldunce and Cheneyburton straight to Tal-Afar or Fallujah or Kirkuk with no body armor and an impossible mission. I monitor the casualty reports from Afghanistan and feel relief when my brother-in-law’s name is not on the list and guilt when I realize I felt relief at the fact that some other mother’s son just died.

I am sick of this war and sick of the incompetent criminal capitalist war profiteers who are running it.

[Post, cross, khaki, 1 ea. for Writ, Radical, FRU# 69-420]