Hair in How To Get Away With Murder


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For me, this week has been Viola Davis week. It started on Sunday when I cried tears of joy about her Emmy win. Then it is has continued throughout the week by me watching episodes of How To Get Away with Murder on Netflix. Once I have some free time, it will end with me watching the latest episode of HTGAWM. During this Viola Davis week, not only I was able to re-watch the Viola’s award winning episodes, but I was also able to see how Viola Davis’ hair has an interesting role in How to Get Away with Murder.

In the television show, we’ve seen Viola’s natural hair, a short, tapered wig, and a curled cut that perfectly frames Viola’s face. Throughout the show, Viola’s changing her hair is completely under her control. When she feels emotionally taxed by her philandering husband or the pressures of being a top defense attorney, she removes her makeup and her hair. She is natural in every way and still beautiful and powerful.

Toward the second half of the season, Viola’s character has a different hairstyle. Despite changing her hair three times, none of the characters comment on it. The absence of commentary of Viola’s hair is perfect. Everyone is trying to figure out who killed Lila while still trying to pass law school! No one has time to comment on Annalise’s hair or makeup.

Some of you might be wondering why in the world did I choose to write about no one talking about Annalise’s hair in How to Get Away with Murder. While re-watching the first season, I realized that the way her hair is handled in the television show is the same way that Black hair should be handled in real life.

People are often too fixated on a woman’s appearance rather than the brilliance that’s occurring in her mind. If a woman wore a low-cut dress while accepting the Nobel Prize for curing cancer, then a dozen reports would be about her outfit and not her award winning work. Second, people who don’t understand Black hair are quick to make commentary about it. They want to touch your fro, pick through your tracks, and mess up your new fade.

At the workplace, people want to give strange looks when you have a different style or try to say that the natural hair, which you have, is unprofessional. However, in How to Get Away with Murder, the microaggressions and politics of hair aren’t the automatic focal point for the award wining show starring a Black woman. Instead, the viewers are granted the chance to enter all accepts of the television show’s universe.

In queen Shonda’s show, we have characters from diverse racial backgrounds, educational levels, body shapes, and gender identity. How to Get Away with Murder is a playground for inclusivity. Commenting on hair isn’t on the list of priorities for Annalise and her band of law students. The show presents another idea of hair. Hair is hair. It comes and goes like the evidence against your cheating husband.

Light Skin vs. Dark Skin

 

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For centuries, there’s been the debate between light and dark skin women. Both have been assigned crude stereotypes that are used as a failed attempted to define them. All of the stereotypes originate from a hateful place and like your annoying family members, they seem to be staying with us forever. Segregating and separating people based on the shade of their skin is an outdated mentality that’s still haunting us today. Why is it that society still can’t shake the mentality that the fairer the skin, the better you are?

I still have old aunts who warn me about not staying in the sun too long. Not wanting to be too black is a mentality that has the possibility of staying with us for centuries. Even though times have changed, there still is a certain portrayal of being Black. Being Black is allowed when it meets certain criteria. When people discriminate others based on the shade of their skin, it’s still a form of racism that we’ve been fighting centuries against.

In order to understand, how people are able to view Blackness we can look to the media such as television, movies, or music, and view how Blackness is portrayed. Consistently in television, there are certain tropes, which appear. For example, we’ve seen the common idea of a dark skin character being viewed as undesirable, light skin characters being forced to play roles where they are only objectified.

One way that we can start changing the way that colorism is viewed is changing the way that light and dark skin characters are viewed in the media. Abandoning old tropes that were assigned during times of slavery and intense racism helps Black people leave the mentality, which oppressed us for centuries. The change won’t be able to happen overnight. It’s going to take some time. However through abandoning these tropes, we have the possibility of coming together as a powerful force.

Saying Goodbye to Azealia Banks

 

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It’s happened again. We must mourn the lost of another talented Black musician because of tomfoolery. Recently, Azealia Banks was caught going on a tirade filled with punching, screaming, and a homophobic slur. This was not the first time that Banks was caught sounding off and it certainly will not be the last.

When I first discovered, Azealia after listening to “212” I thought I saw the light at the end of a tunnel. There was a female rapper who I could get jiggy with. I felt like the old grandma who finally heard her jam. Like with all up-and-coming musicians,  Banks’ budding fame came with a bright spotlight. Over the course of the past few years, Azealia kept revealing her controversial colors. I brushed it off as Azealia being Azealia. She made fun music to listen to. Then her album took forever to come out, and she kept using her dangerous Twitterfingers.

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Over time, Azealia Banks became the girl who kept screaming at the Twitter screen. Some of her commentary about cultural appropriation was true, but the possibility of seeing Banks’ truth was lost in her twitter tirades. Even though, I know that it’s time to say goodbye to Azealia Banks, I’m still angry. I’m angry because I know a few years from now, I’m going to fall in love with another artist, but then one day, I’m just doing to know too much about them.

Too many talented rappers are losing the chance to share their music because of word vomit. Yes, it’s great for artist to express themselves on social media. However, after awhile you start to see their true colors, and realize that the artist you love is a person that you don’t want to know.

It’s a hard truth that you have to accept in this era. Banks’ music can be hot fire and a tempting siren that’ll get me dancing on the floor. Before my foot is able to hit the floor, I remember the crazy tweets, the angry rants, and the flying punches.

Are You What You Wear?

 

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Are you truly what you wear? If you walk around in a tube top and a short skirt, are you suddenly a hoochie mama in training? If you rock spenders and a tie, are you just a nerdy gal? Even though clothes are a fun way to express yourself, sometimes people are quick to assign your identity because of a piece of cloth.

Despite people trying to stop slut shaming, there are still those who feel that they have the right to comment on how you look. Perhaps the people in the peanut gallery are not slut shaming you, then there might be another group in the gallery trying to fat shame you. People in the world are allowed to have their opinions, but sometimes you wish that they would just shut up.

So what do we do? Shaming women because of their clothes and bodies seems as natural as breathing for our society. A part of me wants to just end this article by saying that you have to embrace your clothes and don’t even think about what you’re wearing. However, I know several women who been put in uncomfortable situations because of her clothing. Catcalling and slut shaming isn’t reserved only for women who wear dresses, it’s also for women who wear sweatpants, shoes, or even a t-shirt. The issue isn’t what the woman is wearing. The problem is that a woman is a woman.

What needs to happen is that society needs to have more respect for women. For centuries, we have been viewed as an object that is supposed to just sit next to a man and look pretty, but those days are over like Iggy’s career. There needs to be respectability from all parts of society. Furthermore, there needs to be acceptance of all women, including women of color. Allowing only one sector and color of feminism to enjoy the privilege of body-positivity, anti-fat shaming, and anti-slut shaming does a disservice to the rest of the women still trying to gain the same rights.

The Fall of Iggy Azalea’s Career

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It’s been a rough year for Iggy Azalea and things just aren’t looking up. During an interview, T. I. stated that he has cut business ties with his protégé. Meanwhile Iggy used her twitterfingers to set the record straight. She clarified that she’s still doing business with him. It was an awkward moment for our favorite culture vulture from down under. While many are rejoicing over Iggy’s fall from grace, I’m left waiting for the next Iggy to appear.

Iggy isn’t the first artist accused of cultural appropriation, and she certainly will not be the last. Why after a year did she flop while Katy Perry goes on tour with Big-Butt mummies? A lot of people did not like Iggy but as long as fans could understand what she was rapping, they liked her music.

People kept calling out Iggy for the fraud that she was. Once, her image became too nasty for the public, then sponsors started cutting ties with her because she wasn’t making money or even music. Like Kreayshawn, Iggy disappeared into oblivion, leaving only one fancy hit behind.

Iggy’s fall from public grace needs to happen to more artists who blatantly use cultural appropriation to mask their weak skillsets. The fixation on creating hit singles, pop stars, and catchy anthems are resulting in a dangerous misunderstanding of individual cultures. Music, which once had meaning and the power to induce societal change, is reduced to numbers on a chart.

We all know that money is nice. It helps you pays bills, buy food, and gives you the chance to Treat yo self. But even in 2015, the mantra stays the same—“Mo Money Mo problems”. Blindly making music for money means that artists are surrendering the chance to make a difference. We are left to deal with the Iggy rappers. Yes, like a rash they disappear over time, but they still reappear and are annoying to deal with.

Lessons on Love from Serena, Sanna, and Rihanna

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In the crazy world of Hollywood, cupid has been shooting arrows everywhere. Some of the recent rumored victims of cupid’s touch have been Rihanna, Serena Williams, and Sanna Lathan. They all have been connected to rappers with interesting romantic pasts.

The Internet is up in arms about their relationships. Rihanna’s Navy collectively had a heart attack when news broke that her and Travis Scott were possibly seeing each other. After Serena lost her match, Twitter created #BlameDrake. Then Sanna Lathan revealed that she’s in a relationship with French Montana, and left everyone dazed and confused.

You can’t fight or dodge cupid’s arrows. People have the right to love whoever they want to. However, as a woman they are so many problems that appear when trying to love. First there’s the issue of women loving men who are possibly not worthy of them. Second, if a woman has a slip up and dates or loves a no good. Then she’s reprimanded or reminded for the rest of her life. Meanwhile, a man has the opportunity to skip away scot-free.

It’s a double standard that women have been taught since childhood. Women can’t sleep around with a bunch of men because that means we are morally corrupt. Men are taught to spread their oats and have a good time. The sky is blue, and water is wet. What on earth are us women going to do?

I say that we love whomever we want to. We don’t owe anything to anyone. However, we do owe it to ourselves to be selfish and do whatever we need to do to protect our hearts and our beautiful minds. Sometimes, protecting ourselves means saying no to a potential partner, and staying in the single lane.

Cupid is sneaky and loving someone isn’t as simple as telling your third grade crush to check yes or no. Everyone handles love and intimacy differently. How do you handle love? Do you try to stop yourself from liking potential no goods? Or do you believe in letting the good times roll and not worrying about what might happen?

The People You Encounter As The Only Black Person In Class

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Being the only black person in your class, school or job is not a death sentence. It might even be all smiles and rainbows with no worries or concerns and you will laugh at the memory of thinking you needed an article to help with this occurrence. Nevertheless, you want to be prepped in case you are surrounded by these individuals.

The First Encounter-er

How can you not ever have met a black person? That is the question you will ask when you meet The First Encounter-er. They will either be uber excited because holy fuck, you are black in real life and not on MTV or watchful because you are black like those movies on MTV and they are not sure if you are Boys in The Hood or Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins. When dealing with the First Encounter-er try to be patient. They may question you about every aspect of Black culture and ask you extensively about Africa. Most questions will begin or end with “is it true.” The First Encounter-er means no harm but they have been given an opportunity to finally ask those questions that have been bubbling in them for years. However, you could get a First Encounter-er who is not one side of two extremes but understands that you are the first black person they have ever met and moves on without making a big fuss.

Example:

“So Amber, is it true that all black people have been affected by the War on Drugs? I watched a documentary about it and it really moved me but I always wondered how you people really felt but never could ask. It’s so nice to finally have this chance.”

“Stacy, you are from Louisiana. You could have asked plenty of people.”

The Learner

The Learner loves everything you do and wants to do everything you do. You roll your eyes and the Learner will feverishly ask how do you coordinate that eye and neck roll so well then demand you give a step-by-step tutorial. You will come to school and with kinky twists on Monday, an afro on Tuesday and box braids on Wednesday and the Learner will attend class everyday with a notepad, interviewing you on how you are able to do this wizardry and if it works for white hair. Take the Learner as a compliment. You could come to school looking a hot mess and the Learner will want to know how your style is so unique and how he or she can get on your level. The Learner will eventually find her own style or bite off of someone else with some ethnicity.

Example:

“Oh my God, I looove your hair. What is it? Can I touch? I’m going to touch it. How do you get so wild like that? Tell me all the steps.”

“It is a bantu knot out. Don’t touch my hair Susan. I watched a tutorial on YouTube that you can watch online too, for free.”

The Adapter

The Adapter changes his behavior for you but it’s usually not in a good way. Those random listens to rap music and scattered memories of old black movies will surface whenever the Adapter talks to you. The Adapter shift from formal English to ebonics is noticeable. For some strange reason, the Adapter does not believe you and he or she can connect with saying slang and attempting to Hit the Quan once. Think Quentin Tarantin during that interview at 106 and Park.

Example:

“Goodbye my dear friends and colleagues. I wish you a safe and prosperous journey to your living quarters where you shall dine like men and face the r-, oh what’s good fam. I did not see you there home skillet biscuit. Are you about to get in them streets bruh?”

“I am journeying to my living quarters where I shall dine like men, Brad.”

“Yas, do you cuzzo. Don’t get caught up with no thots though.”

“You majored in English. Stop it.”

The Person Who Asks You “What’s the Black Perspective”

The Person Who Asks You “What’s the Black Perspective” makes the horribly wrong assumption that black people all have the same ideology and that you went out confirmed this ideology in some way, shape or form. Maybe the Person Who Asks You “What’s the Black Perspective” thinks black people have secret meetings every week to make sure we all know what we like and do not like. You know, to keep morale up. This question can be reworded but the main focus is you speaking for the black community.

Example:

“How do black people feel about climate change?”

“I personally think it is a real and major issue that needs to addressed and not debated by nonscientific politicians.”

“You guys do not think alike.”

“No, I missed the meeting at the Underground Railroad where we discuss issues until we reach unanimous decisions about every issue in the world. The meetings are biweekly because we have to squeeze it into our work schedule too. It’s tough but how else will we think alike like drones.”

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Discussing social issues and speaking on injustices is all well and fine but the Let-Me-Tell-You-What’s-Wrong-With-Black-Community Philosopher is not there to have back and forth. No, the Let-Me-Tell-You-What’s-Wrong-With-Black-Community Philosopher is only there to give you a one-size solution to all the problems that plague the black community. Where did he or she get these solutions? Scattered bits of news commentary and a sprinkle of statistics probably. Their solutions involve a perfect society with unmistakable equality and an endless availability to opportunity. There is an easy solution big problems like institutionalized racism that you simply could not grasp but this late night news watcher saw it all and boy is he or she going to drill you with theses theories.

Example:

“It’s the clothes. It has always been the clothes. You have to dress for what you want. You see rappers and these young boys falling along with these trends that make them look like gangbangers and thugs. They have to pull up their pants and dress better in order for them to stop being harassed by the police.”

“Was there a surge in police brutality for white males with hair long and black clothes when death metal was popular? No. If we all wore tailored suits tomorrow, we’d still be gangbangers and thugs, just well dressed gangbangers and thugs. It’s not clothes, it’s preconceived prejudice that’s the issue.”

“See no, I watched a segment and a black guy said “we as a people have to represent ourselves better.”

“Jesus could have said that and I still would not agree. Changing clothes is way easier than changing minds, Rachel.”

Backhanded Compliment Giver

“You are so pretty for a black girl.” “You speak very well for a black guy.” “You got into that school? Oh, it’s probably because of affirmative action.” “You’re black but not black, black.” Just back away slowly or try to make them see the error in their ways.

Example:

“You have really long hair to be black.”

“You are really ignorant to be a brunette. I thought you guys were smarter than that.”

“I can totally see how I was offensive now . I am sorry.”

“Apology accepted.”

The Low-key Racist

The Low-key Racist is the worst of all. The Low-key Racist is a friendly person, genuinely liked by counterparts and a great big ball of joy to everyone. Well, everyone with the same complexion. The Low-key Racist’s friendly persona is erased when he or she comes around you. There are no rainbows but only backhanded compliments and racist questions like “why are all you black boys so into that dope slagging business.” Calling out the Low-key Racist brings confusion and disbelief from peers because how could he or she be racist when they are so nice to everyone else. Though a true victim, you are made to seem crazy and overly sensitive, at best, or a liar, at worst. The Low-key Racist comes in all shapes and sizes and no one is immune to being the Low-key Racist. That bias towards a race is ingrained and their pleasant demeanor remains intact around others but what’s done in the dark will come to light.

Example: 

“You are a hoot Steven.”

“You black people are not the only ones who can jive.”

“What the fuck Steven?”

“Whoa, calm down with the whole angry black woman thing you women do.”

“I heard that Steven, not nice.”

“I was kidding. I love the negroes.”

“What the fuck Steven?”