Monday, August 27, 2018

Unnaturally Blonde Negroes Be Like....,

npr  |  CHANG: Well, when you asked non-white people why they dyed their hair blond, what did they say to you?

RANKINE: I did hear a lot that it made my skin look lighter.

CHANG: Oh, interesting.

RANKINE: And probably the most sad and moving report I had was a young woman in a shop who said, I - when I went blonde, I found myself. It was really me. My skin was lighter. Even my mother said so. And that - I found that a little tragic.

CHANG: I read that some people got kind of defensive when you brought up the issue of whiteness. Why do you think people got defensive?

RANKINE: Mostly it was white people who got defensive.
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CHANG: Really? And how so?


CHANG: Defensive in what way?

RANKINE: Mostly young white women - they felt that the choice to go blonde was a personal choice. And they felt they looked better. They felt better. They were treated better. And...

CHANG: Treated better by men, by women, by everybody?

RANKINE: By everyone. When I asked them if they thought that was tied somehow to the expectations of whiteness, they got defensive around that. And, you know, a few of them said, can you erase the interview or...


RANKINE: ...I don't want to talk about this anymore. So, you know - and I think that's tied to the fact that talking about race is taboo among white people. And so to say that you have invested in a thing - and it is an investment. You know, it costs sometimes $400, $200 for touch-ups. So, you know, that line of investigation and inquiry was not acceptable to them.

CHANG: Well, could an argument be made that the decision didn't go that deep, that you're assuming there is some deeper attachment or non-attachment to whiteness? But maybe the decision to go blond was just a fun, kind of care-free thing the way some people dye their hair blue or purple. And why interrogate them about it?

RANKINE: Exactly. It - I mean, it could be that. And often I would say, do you dye your hair other colors? And some women said, no, it's always blond. You know, so if it's really about the funness (ph) of dying your hair, then perhaps you would do blue or green or whatever. But for them, it was a commitment to blondness.