Monday, March 26, 2012

Willow Smith: Young, Black & Green? How She Impacts Urban Change

Two Saturdays ago, St. Patrick's Day, possibly half the city was somewhere getting wasted on beer, wine and other alcohols while Willow Smith hung out in Manhattan, shopping and walking around town with newly colored green hair.

Willow Smith From her Instagram 
In the past few months bloggers and others have been talking about Willow's new cropped haircut. Questions were raised as to whether she's too young to cut her hair, and whether her parents are too lenient with her being an 11 y.o. girl with freedoms even many adults never experience. But where are the questions about the synthetic braids and hair extensions little Willow Smith was wearing to help her whip her hair. What about the possibility of Willow making a change in the way little black girls see themselves.

I'm wondering how we, societally, can have different conversations about the types of statements our children make, how to see things outside the usual boxes we put ourselves and them in. Willow Smith’s parents, Jada & Will Smith, have been lenient. They've been lenient in allowing their only daughter to be an individual, already, at 11 years old. And what better way to teach self esteem to children than to let them explore---explore themselves including their good and bad hair. 

Willow Smith is not rocking a weave, a wig or superficial blonde hair like so many people of color and women do to feel beautiful. She is wearing her real hair, unprocessed and without barriers. I think it's a uniquely empowering way for a tween to live outside the box.

I salute Willow for her courage. And I hope the next time I see words used to describe things our girls do to evoke a reaction, they include revolutionary slogans like "Willow Smith challenges the way the world views all types of beauty!"

Willow Smith, you rock!

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