Good hair means curls and waves
Bad hair means you look like a slave
At the turn of the century
It's time for us to redefine who we be
You can shave it off
Like a South African beauty
Or get in on lock
Like Bob Marley
You can rock it straight
Like Oprah Winfrey
If it's not what's on your head
It's what's underneath and say
--India Arie, I Am Not My Hair
The great anticipation of the Chris Rock’s film on ‘good hair’ initiated some very interesting conversations, stemming from slave mothers to our little daughters we are raising. Every sista knows what is meant when your hair is referred to as ‘good hair’… that is right… we ain’t talking about ‘nappy’. What is it about our hair that makes us question its greatness? We always talk about the brainwashing that affects our mentality and our self-image. Heck, we ban the N word every other week. Did we ever stop to question why in today’s age when people of African decent have sooo much to be proud of do we still question the preciousness of our natural hair texture?
It hurt my heart to hear that my 5-year-old cousin question why her hair is not good. Girl, who told you that your hair is not good? Your classmates are mostly of a different race. Was this something that one of your friends said to you? Come to find out... not at all. My 5-year-old cousin had assumed that because her hair didn’t stay in a ponytail when she got out the pool and the other little girl’s hair did, her hair must be inferior. WOW. I said to her… love your hair darling. Our hair is the so strong and the most versatile once you embrace it. That is something to be proud of. Fast forward a year later, my baby cousin will tell you she likes her hair braided, hot curled or just naturally afro’d. I just hope she doesn’t loose this along the way to adulthood.
I remember my first relaxer and I also remember the first time I shaved my head. The first event was a happy one, yet the latter was one filled with tears. Looking back at these times in history, I realized I was tripping. It is just hair. It is not who I am. Liberating myself from silly false perceptions of what my hair was supposed to look and feel like was the best thing that happened to me. I was 13, a little late but glad it happened no matter how late.
For how many of our sistas are slaves to the salon? I guess that is our place of worship every Saturday, hours on end, thousands of pennies and for what? Don’t get me strong, I truly believe in keeping up the hair game no doubt. But shall practice some restraint? Not trying to put no hairdressers out business it is a recession but I am really curious what it is that makes bond to the weave? Is it our men? Is it media?
See I can kinda recall a lil ways back
Small tryin to ball always been black
And my hair I tried it all I even went flat
Had a gummy curled on top
and all that crap (o oh)
Just tryin to be appreciated
Nappy headed brothers never had no ladies
Then I hit the barber shop real quick
Had a mini lil twist and it drove her crazy (crazy)
Then I couldnt get no job
Cuz corporate wouldn't hire no dreadlocks
Then I thought about my dogs on the block
Kinda understand why they chose to steal and rob
Was it the hair that got me this far?
All these girls these cribs these cars?
I hate to say it but it seem so flawed
Success didnt come 'til I cut it all
--Akon, I Am Not My Hair (India Arie Remix)
There is a lot of talk about the women and their hair, but what about our brothers? Granted they don’t spend as much time or money as we do to maintain, to be what we consider good looking. But what about all of those jerry curl, perm/hot combing, s-curl, cornrow, dread-locking brothers?
Growing up on an island, you could forget about getting a decent paying job if you fit into any of the above-mentioned categories. Bald head or nothing, less hair less intimidation! Now I am not a brother so I can’t really speak but this as a sista, so what is up with that? You tell me, how do you feel about that? Are perms and s-curls for pimps and comedians? Should locks and cornrows be left for entertainers?
Much luv until next week... peace and mucho naps!