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Long Hair, Don’t Care

Cam and His New ‘Do Unbothered by Lame Dad

Cam and His New ‘Do Unbothered by Lame Dad

My respect for Cam Newton as a Black man and professional athlete went up so many levels last week when he actively ignored a comment about his hair that, frankly, would have set a lot of Black folks off.  

Training camp practice for the Carolina Panthers, held at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., started at 9:15 a.m. but fans arrived early enough that the grass on the spectators hill was still wet with dew to get the best views of their favorite player. It was from this hill a grown man, who was white, and a group of elementary kids were sitting and cheering. Yells of “Hey Cam,” “Go Cam!” and the occasional “MVP, MVP,” floated down to the practice field.  Everyone, including the players, could hear it. At one point someone from the group yelled “Hey Cam, where’s the music?!” and with a half laugh, directed at the crowd on the hill in general, Newton replied “Send an email to Coach Ron Rivera! His email is…” and proceeded to give coach’s information. The crowd laughed. It was light-hearted and fun until the grown man and the kids got too comfortable.

“Hey Cam, what’s wrong with yo’ hair?”

Now from a child, a white child, the question might be genuinely innocent. But when preceded by a grown man asking children he was in charge of, “Y’all dare me to say it,” it was plainly not a scene of innocence. It was an adult showing children how to point out and devalue the differences of another just to gain attention. Everyone heard, and clearly Cam heard, but he never turned around.

I can’t imagine that this was the first time someone said something crazy to get his attention. Cam wears some wild shit sometimes. His fashion sense is high concept, form fitting–I mean, if you had his body you would probably show it off a little, too–and like his personality, bold and unapologetically black. So why shouldn’t his hair reflect that same Blackness and uniquely flashy personality? Locs (not dreadlocks, because there is nothing dreadful about them) are themselves a dynamic testament to Blackness. 

There ain’t nothing wrong with Cam’s hair. There’s nothing wrong with your hair expressing the strength of your bonds to your ancestors. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look different, dress different, shine different, and for an elite NFL player and young Black man, be different.  

Understand that the Black community will still ask “What is he doing?” when we see Cam wearing whatever he finds fashionable, because that’s what we do. We love on him through jokes and memes. We will find some way to laugh at or make fun of what he wears because we probably can’t afford it and there some envy because it still looks good on him. We will clown but we will never ask what’s wrong with his Blackness.

To the man who thought it was cool to yell and encourage those kids to scream “Hey Cam, what’s wrong with your hair,” I hope you received Cam’s silent response loud and clear. And maybe I was wrong. Maybe he couldn’t even hear you over the sound of his locs being remarkably awesome.

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