Pop Culture

Bonnet-Gate: I Have (A LOT OF) Questions

Written by Nicole


Bonnets! What piece of cloth has ever caused such a fuss? Further to my latest blog post, I had a question. It started as one question (which was the last question on the list), but as I collected my thoughts, I had more. The bonnet conversation continues, and black women across social media continue to defend their God-given right to wear bonnets wherever they want.


It seems that, while there is a vocal camp decrying wearing bonnets in public, there is a larger group defending their right to do so. At this point, you like it, I love it, and let the chips fall where they may. I just think it’s funny how week before last there was a petition going to get a football player to remove an illustration of our image from a harmful anthology cover (which you can sign here). And then this week, bonnets, as part of our public representation, are okay. Which is it? So, it’s not that we don’t know that image matters, we just apply different scales to how much it does, I guess. I’m just a bit confused.

With all that said, I have questions. I freely admit I don’t know it all, but I genuinely wish to understand.

To those of you who do, or have no problem with wearing bonnets (and similarly, pajamas, or any kind of “inside clothes”) out in the world:

  1. What are the benefits of wearing bonnet and bonnet adjacent attire out?

    Surely there must be something as the comments tirelessly defending it suggest. Is there some kind of membership club that only grants access to public bonnet wearers?

  2. How do you determine where is appropriate to wear a bonnet, vs. inappropriate to wear a bonnet?

    The consensus seems to be that the airport is okay, as are planes and long periods of travel. Super quick trips, like the post office or getting gas, seem to be fine too. Corner stores are fine, and even to pick your kids up from school (unless it’s that one school). Some said if you’re not leaving the car, then the bonnet can stay on. Where is the line drawn? Since we are on the topic of airports, is a bonnet okay to wear a bonnet for a passport photo? What if you were picking up someone from the airport, but not travelling yourself? How about the doctor’s office for a scheduled appointment? Obviously if you’re in the grips of illness that’s different. Medical attention trumps any appearance, period. But how about to, say, the dentist for a routine cleaning, or to your gynecologist for a scheduled mammogram?

  3. Would you wear bonnets in a professional setting? (to an interview, in the office, or even at after-work social events?)

    Or to a bank? What about a law office or browsing a furniture store? What about to special events, such as weddings, baby showers, or proms?

  4. Some women took issue with the messenger – in this case, Mo’Nique. Is she qualified to speak on such matters?

    There’s another trend that I’ve noticed – in order to give other black women advice, as a woman, you must be saintly in all things. This is not a requirement if you are male, however. If the message was the same, who would have been a better messenger? Does the messenger even matter?

  5. How do you determine what imagery is important vs. not as important?

    Wasn’t it last year that there was some upset at a pajama ad that featured a black woman and her two daughters, implying she was a single mother (even though she wasn’t)? Father’s Day is coming up – a couple years ago there was much consternation about a card wishing a happy Father’s Day to the “baby daddy”. These are just the few that jumped to mind. If imagery is important, is it not important across the board? Or is it selective? Help me out here.

  6. Why not replace a bonnet with a headscarf or a turban instead?

    There are satin-lined ones that are pretty easily obtainable that do the same thing – can these substitute a bonnet? Why or why not?


And this question, I saved for last.

There’s no denying that Bonnet-Gate has stirred the proverbial pot. Two comment sections I’ve seen on Facebook are sporting close to 400 and 800 comments each. If Facebook is popping off (which seems to have fallen out of favor on the social media streets), I’m sure that Instagram and Twitter have even more to behold, too. There was even a post about a bonnet convention that has been shared nearly 6000 times! And then several black men whipped out their own bonnets and photographed themselves wearing one, in I guess what passes as “solidarity” these days. The caption, written by a black woman, stated “I love when black men stand up for us”. This is mockery, plain and simple, but it seems I’m in the minority of seeing it that way.

If a selfie wearing a bonnet (in their house, mind you, not outside) constitutes black men “standing up for us”…that’s incredibly sad, but, again, you like it, I love it. One would think standing up for us would look like providing, protecting, producing and problem-solving, but different strokes for different folks.


That begs the final question:


  • Why do I NEVER see this level of engagement when it comes to real, life-or-death topics?

Black women have filled up comment sections for a shiny piece of fabric. Black men plop that same shiny piece of fabric on their head as a “show of solidarity” and it’s seen as supportive rather than derisive. There are thousands of comments about this topic, and that’s only on one social platform. Why do we show up for things that are ultimately inconsequential in the grand scheme of things?


As of May 26th of this year (day 146), five hundred and forty-one black women and girls were murdered according to Black Femicide -US. 541. The math worked out to be every eight hours last year. Now we’re barely in June, and that number is edging closer to every SIX hours. By New Year’s Eve, will it be every 5 hours? Four? One?

Where is the outrage???

Where is the passion???

When will we be murdered fast enough for it to be a blip on the social media radar?

Why are comment sections discussing this topic noticeably lower in number and with hardly any participants?

How come black women are jumping on the Bonnet Brigade discussion faster than you can say “protective style” when our fellow black women are literally getting gunned down in our prime? And how come black men can slap on a bonnet and that’s accepted as some kind of solidarity, when they are the ones murdering black women 9 times out of 10??? True solidarity would be, I don’t know, not killing us, and publicly speaking out against those who do. Real solidarity would be responding with something other than “well, white/Asian/Hispanic/Native American men kill their women too” when black femicide is brought up. But bonnets.

BONNETS are the hill to die on.

Bonnets, bonnets and more bonnets.

One bonnet, two bonnet, red bonnet, blue bonnet.

Maybe we can all wear bonnets to our own funerals next.


This is how the zombie apocalypse will start. The ancestors everyone keeps talking about will rise up to roundly admonish us for this nonsense.


With that said, I’m out of Bonnet-Gate. Hopefully someone has some answers for the questions I posited above. Until then, you will not ever catch me outside in a bonnet, how about that.

Disclaimer: Opinions mine, not necessarily reflective of Christelyn or other writers on this platform.

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