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Posted by Kree @ Gilded Lilies on May 29, 2002 at 23:12:36:

In reply to: Re: Musings on race, informed consent and the nature of henna posted by Maureen on May 29, 2002 at 17:34:41:

It's interesting that you took a quote of mine somewhat out of
: Hear are (two) of the statements I have comment on:
(my quote:)
: "Also- I just wanted to comment that I agree totally with your
: assessment re henna on darker skinned people. No matter how dark
: henna gets, on ebony skin henna is just not going to look the same.
: understand that in some countries like Senegal and Mali people use
: henna totally differently - not elaborate tiny designs, but thicker
: bolder, simpler designs that make the burgundy/black skin look like
: watered silk in the sunlight - but definitely not visible from a
: distance"
(your quote)
: If you do not see the implication in these statements can draw one
: conclude that on dark skin there is a problem with the pure and
: natural henna being seen on there skin...well, maybe you just don't
: want to see it.
: My statements have been and continue to be that pure and natural
: henna can be seen on dark skin and using something to get a black
: stain or some skin harming chemical to push the stain darker is not
: necessary for dark skin people to have stains that can be seen on
: their skin...even from a distance.
: It is interesting to me that you would make, support or not comment
: against a racially insensitive comment and then wish to say
I "pulled
: the race card" when I do.

I do not feel that I made a "racially insensitive" comment - I happen
to think henna is gorgeous on all shades of skin. I do have quite a
bit of experience henna'ing a wide variety of people. I have run
experiments with henna on friends from a variety of racial
backgrounds (African American, Samoan, Native American) and I
generally believe that PH has more to do with the results of the
color of henna than skin color. I have told my customers for years
that whether they stain or not has nothing to do with skin color. But
I have to say that in MY experience, the results I have had henna'ing
armbands or upper body areas (which do not stain impressively on
lighter skin either) specifically on ebony black skin, have not
displayed the contrast that is easily seen on darker brown skin. I'm
not going to tell a customer with very black skin that their armband
will be just as visible as it is on someone with medium to dark brown
skin. If you have had different results POST THE PICTURES! (post the
recipes!) I would love to see them. I don't believe as a human being
or an artist that "different" is better or worse, it's just
different. I do believe the terp recipe is a great boon to henna'ing
body parts that don't take as well, like bellies and necks.

It's no coincidence that blackened henna is very popular in East and
West African countries. Nearly every time I have done henna on
Somalian, Eritrean, or Malian women, the topic of black henna has
come up - raised by them, not by me. My comment about Mali and
Senegal came from conversations with people from Mali and Senegal.
One woman told me she knew of a "secret" recipe and then brought out
a bottle of men's black hair dye, which I declined to use. Another
told me that she always put gasoline in the henna in her country, but
that she stopped using it in the US.
I always encourage people to use natural henna whatever their skin
color. As for the burgundy/black comments I made above - I think
watersilk patterns are beautiful! But I want my customers to have the
best possible henna experience - I don't want them to go home and be
disappointed that they wasted their $$. All I have to offer is my
honest experience, which is that the henna armbands and back shoulder
designs I have done on very dark skins have not shown up very well. I
also try to do thicker bolder designs instead of tiny traceries, to
maximize the effect. If your experience is different I think you can
express it without attempting to shame people into agreeing with you,
i.e., your quote - "well, maybe you just don't want to see it."
Again, I'd like to see pictures!

I really think this whole line of discussion (which is interesting
and I'm glad we're discussing it) would really be best illustrated by
samples of our work. I don't think I have ever met a racist person
doing henna. It's too loving, too sensuous and too bonding. A racist
person would not last long doing henna because the customers would
feel the uncomfortable energy. Henna is all about touching and
nurturing and caressing. At least, it should be.


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