“Never read the comments” is the conventional advice given to journalists working in social media—where everyone’s a critic, trolls run rampant, and avatars effectively function as armor. But sometimes, we just can’t help ourselves—after all, we’re humans, writing content for other humans, and even when there’s no validation to be found, constructive criticism (emphasis on constructive) is always helpful.
That is until the responses to our offerings reveal deep fissures in our understanding and acceptance of each other’s humanity. This appeared to be the case when, amid myriad reports of rising death tolls, health disparities and alarming economic outcomes that have inundated us daily, Jezebel staff writer Ashley Reese dared to publish an article on how the repercussions of the coronavirus crisis are affecting lesser-considered aspects of life—in this case, the maintenance of black hair.
To be fair, multitudes of articles about Zoom meeting etiquette, dressing for the home office, DIY beauty, streaming service recommendations and shelter-in-place recipes have routinely circulated in the past few weeks alongside far more alarming headlines. Nevertheless, Reese’s well-researched exploration of how the shutdown of black salons and hairstyling services as non-essential businesses were adversely affecting clientele, practitioners and entrepreneurs alike drew jeers and judgment from many readers, several of whom dismissed the concerns she comprehensively addressed as frivolous and insensitive in a moment when people are dying by the masses.
To be clear, Reese is fully aware of the death rate of COVID-19—which is currently occurring at a drastically higher rate among black populations across America than other racial groups. Equally true is that she’s not the first to address this particular aspect of the COVID crisis; in fact, The Glow Up—along with outlets like Refinery29, Black Enterprise and the Grio—has also touched on this concern; one of many disproportionately affecting black people during this crisis. And believe it or not, we’re remarkably able to acknowledge this seemingly benign concern even as we face the more pressing and universal fears of loss of family, friends, income, health and our own lives.
Both of these things can be true—and relevant. Yet, even in a moment that arguably demands all the compassion we can muster, many of the responses to Reese’s article suggested a persistent (if not incurable) case of myopia. And since we not only write for sister sites but are part of a demographic colloquially known as “sisters” (sorry, it had to be done), she joined The Glow Up to continue the conversation—and address the dreaded comments section.
Watch our interview in the video above.