Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard about comedian and actress Mo’Nique’s opinion on Black women and bonnets. In fact, her grievances were with bonnets, scarves, slides, and blankets. The Academy award winning actress had a “clutch the pearls” PSA message addressing the “sistahs” and their public appearances, but we have to ask, is this a pot calling a kettle black when it comes to what is and is not proper behavior?
As a quick recap, the “Precious” star said she was lovingly talking to Black women as a good “auntie” after seeing many women in an airport who looked like they just rolled out of bed, and while her message may be an “Amen” for many, we have to err on the side of caution and say, when you tell others how to walk a fine line, make sure that yours is not crooked.
My thoughts on her opinion are that they are just that: opinions. I think it’s important that the Black community remind ourselves that we are not a monolith, we are very distinct individuals and one person does not speak for the entire community.
Though I disagree with Mo’Nique’s perception of Black women who wear bonnets, my issue is not with her opinion, my issue was the lack of consistency in the standards set on us compared to men.
Mo’Nique wants to know where Black women’s pride went, and I could ask the same question about some of our men. While Mo’Nique suggests that wearing a protective hairpiece is reasonable cause to think a Black woman is appearing less than “queenly,” she forgets to address some of our kings.
Black women are subjugated to intense scrutiny whether they’re wearing a bonnet, natural hair, or a straight wig. Why is this same scrutiny not applied to Black men in durags?
I suspect it is because since White people have given the OK on durags, it is now a part of high fashion and is being rapidly appropriated. Many artists have made durags the subject of their projects with their reasoning being that durags, once used to stereotype Black men, are used to portray the collective Black experience. Bonnets are in the exact same category as durags, so why is the Black community so vocal and aggressive against Black women? Maybe it’s because as much as we say that we do not live to appease the White gaze, much of our self-worth and what we deem as appropriate is still based on White people’s approval. It could also be that society is much quicker to criticize Black women for minimal things than their male counterparts.
Do I wear a bonnet in public? No. Do I think a Black woman deserves to be treated as less than she is because she chooses to wear a bonnet? No.
Black people cannot “dress” our way out of oppression. Black women are the most educated demographic within the Black community, are the fastest-growing demographic in women-led businesses, have made groundbreaking strides in medicine, music, politics, athletics, etc., and we’re being told that we’re not representing our race correctly because of a bonnet? Think again “Auntie” Monique!
Whether you think bonnets make someone you don’t know ‘ratchet’ or not, think about some of your own behaviors. Some people may say Black women cursing and using vulgar words is not “queen” behavior, but Monique’s comedy is littered with so many curse words it makes some people uncomfortable. Does that make you less queenly, Auntie Mo’Nique? No!
We already have so much to fight against when it comes to racism, the last thing we need to do is tear each other down over a bonnet on our head. And no matter what is atop our crowns, to some folks – especially whites — we are nothing more or nothing less than what they already think of us. Whether you’re in a three-piece suit or a hoodie and slides, you will be stereotyped just because you’re Black.
Being in a bonnet at three in the morning in an airport does not mean you have low self-esteem and lack of pride. The majority of the time, these are the same women with their hair and edges laid to perfection during their vacation or on their way to a business meeting.
You can have all the opinions you want and your sense of style may be different from someone else, but I urge everyone to mind their own business. Stop being a hypocrite and please don’t push all of the responsibility on Black women to represent our race. Develop a sense of individuality and realize that what someone else decides to put on their head has nothing to do with you.
Give us a break. The Black women you regard as “tacky” and “less than” are the same ones on the front lines advocating for the Black community, even for those who continuously speak against us. And some of them may even have their scarves and bonnets on, laying those edges down for a front row seat at the next potty-mouth laced Monique stand-up show. We love ya Queen, but not rocking all the way with you on this one….Holla!