“I can’t help but realize how unhealthy an attitude it is for young black girls to grow up afraid to go out in their natural curly hair. “D. Copeland
Is it a mere coincidence that alongside what can only be explained as a spiritual awakening amongst our people, is a movement to get back to self, embracing our unique characteristics and demonstrating our love and acceptance of self through expressions of our blackness. By now you have all heard about “Becky with the good hair”. Whether in response or by coincidence, I have noticed a growing movement amongst black women, young and old, choosing to forego things such as extensions and perm to wear their natural hair. Full disclosure – I am a black man, so I could not be any prouder, I remember a time when a black woman wearing her natural hair and not permed or straightened was enough to warrant a second look or stare. Yes, black women have always worn their own hair. But if you feel hair is nothing more than hair then perhaps you have never truly known a black woman. Thinking back, that would be like me ignoring the emphasis I use to place on how nice a females’ hair looked as one of the deciding factors in whom I paid attention to as a young man. There is no ignoring how important things such as hairstyle, length and quality of hair are to a black woman, and oh yes I’m talking Remy.
I grew up in the 90s so I have seen it all! Fast forward to today, I now live together with my beautiful partner. She has given birth to our two intelligent, graceful and beautiful daughters. Let’s just say as the only man in the house, I understand the importance of hair. I think becoming more consciously awoken, has caused me to evaluate the importance we black people place on hair. Most specifically a black woman’s hair and how comparable it is to the look and feel of European hair. We live in a society that seemingly operates under a notion of show me your hair and I will tell you who you are. It used to be that these sorts of things were only reserved to the examination of your friends. As I started pull myself away from the mindset of determining our value by how we relate to the likeness of things foreign to our natural selves, I began to better appreciate seeing a black women in her natural hair. That said just Google Madam C. J. Walker for yourself if you need more evidence of how important hair is to black women. I am not trying to knock hair extensions or any woman who choose to wear them or any other hair products. That is not what my article is about. Black is beautiful and my focus is to build and not destroy.
As a father, I take note that my oldest daughter is seemingly more pleased with her appearance when her hair is straightened. She is twelve years old and we have never permed her hair. Her mother and I agreed when she was young that we would never perm her hair but it has been flat ironed, straightened and styled for things like picture day. Like many other young girls, and much to my dislike, my daughter wants to be famous. I am assured it is normal. However, I tell her all the time that she is great and meant to bring more value to this world than to be entertainment for others. I admit I have an issue with so many black children who only see themselves doing sports or some other form of entertainment, but that is another topic for another time. Although there are lots of extremely smart black men and women in the entertainment industry; I would just prefer my children do something else with their talents. It is no secret that television and magazines rarely, ever display black women with their natural hair. As I see my beautiful princess fixing her hair in the morning I can’t help but realize how unhealthy an attitude it is for young black girls to grow up afraid to go out in their natural curly hair.
Are you beginning to see the connection? If not let me break it down. Madam C. J. Walker, though she was a great black business woman, in many ways is an example of cultural excellence; she built an empire on our desire to have flat, straightened hair. A large portion of our children desire or see entertainment as their goal or only way to financial salvation. Television and print ads hardly ever depict black women looking successful and beautiful in their natural hair. It is 2019 and black girls in North America and even in Africa are protesting to be able to wear their natural hair in school. It is disheartening to see black children; including those that have made the honour roll being suspended from schools because school dress codes do not allow traditional black hairstyles.
So I ask: is it a coincidence that with education and consciousness being spread through the internet on a global level, that we see a growth in black women choosing to wear their natural hair? Does awakening lead to acceptance of self and is accepting yourself mean no longer conforming? Lastly is this a trend or will it become the new norm?