Throughout my time supporting black owned businesses and attending events with a heavy focus on the back community. I have noticed that the conversation about including white or non-black people always comes up at some point.
I completely understand why this conversation is being had, any business should be open to as many customers as they can. But when a business is focusing on natural afro textured hair, why is there a need for it’s products to be “suitable for all hair types“?. This is no shade to black owned businesses catering to all hair types. I just wonder why do we as black people feel the need to always include others into spaces that were predominately created for us?
Now before I get further into this topic it is imperative that we understand that reverse racism is not real and that creating black focused spaces, products and services is not racist. Why? Well because racism is based on one race believing their race is superior to another race.
Black people create spaces, service and products for our community because there is a lack of understanding our differences, not because we believe our race is better than anyone elses. It is ridiculous to ignore the obvious difference in skin colour and cultures, equality is not about ignoring our differences as a way to tackle racial inequality. Acknowledging that our differences exists and that those differences require a tailored approach is the only way to move forward. Which is why “I don’t see colour” is a ridiculous statement.
The natural hair movement being an example of an effective approach to the lack or representation and understanding of our natural hair.
Comments I saw regarding the recently celebrated World Afro Day, made me realise how uncomfortable some feel about the idea of black people creating anything they cannot relate to. But that lack of understanding doesn’t lead to curiosity, but rather a state of denial and a complete disregard for its importance. There are many things we can all agree we do not see as relevant to us personally, but does that mean it is okay for me to dismiss the need for it? Definitely not.
Must we wait around for others to figure out what we need, only to get it terribly wrong because there is a lack of us in the room making the decisions and a lack of basic understanding of our differences?
I don’t think we should be afraid to cater to our community, when it is clear that we are either an after thought or not even thought of at all.
Let’s take Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty as a prime example of why it is important to take control of our own initiatives. Before Fenty, we already knew we had few places to find our shades or that mixing shades in order for it to match was an experience we became used to. Now Fenty has recently celebrated their first of many successful years in business, every beauty brand wants to highlight diversity and shade ranges.
It is not a tit for tat kind of deal, it is simply seeing a problem or a gap and filling it. If your product, service or business can be used by anybody then by all means have everyone on board. I just think when it comes to those who are specifically aimed at those within our community, it is perfectly okay to keep in mind that your contribution is necessary and important.
I am in no way telling anybody how they should be doing things, this is just my thoughts. I wanted to highlight that it is not a must, black people don’t have to be inclusive.
You can read more from my Black History Month series: #BHMWithSaabirah here.