The image above, which appears to have been created sometime last year, resurfaced and popped up in our Facebook newsfeed today, along with a reminder of a seemingly timeless theme: the stereotype-based shaming of black women for choices that don’t harm anyone and, really, aren’t anyone else’s business.
The meme—which essentially says that black women wear weaves because they have poor self-images, and the Korean-American owners of the places they shop encourage this alleged dysfunction so that they can cash in—isn’t the first look at the role of Korean businesses in predominantly African-American neighborhoods. Far from it. That phenomenon has been researched, analyzed and debated since decades before the dawn of the meme era—no pictures or mean-spirited accusations necessary.
Nor is it the first time someone has used the power of social media to purge his or her own frustration with black women’s behavior while tossing aside critical thinking. Read A Womyn’s Worth on the silly assumptions behind this one, for example:
But this latest attempt to make a point falls almost infuriatingly short. Not only does it assign an unfairly cynical outlook to Korean business owners (safe to assume the family in the photo isn’t actually behind this creation, right?), but it also makes a lot of unfounded assumptions about why black women choose to style their hair in any particular way. (We’re still waiting for the data on the correlation between “lack of racial pride” and weaves, and also interested in how we’re to make sense of white women adding extensions to their hair.)
Finally, it fails to acknowledge the obvious: Anytime anyone buys anything from someone else, that person is arguably sending someone else’s kids to college. So why the criticism of black women’s spending and styling habits specifically?
Unfortunately, that’s not a hard question to answer.
Jenée Desmond-Harris is associate editor of features at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.