Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lessons I've learned from my afro

In 2009, Chris Rock unknowingly started a revolution.  With his movie "Good Hair," he brought to the big screen an issue that women of color had privately struggled with for decades: the infamous hair saga (myth) of good vs.evil. For those of you that do not know, many Black women have been condemned throughout their lives for having naturally curly, coily, or kinky hair. This idea easily dates back to the Atlantic slave trade and the beginning of the myth of black inferiority.  Because the European influence lends little to the maintenance of Black hair, Black women began to use chemical processes in an effort to silken their tresses. Relaxers relaxed the natural curl, making the hair easier to manage while providing a more European (good hair) look. While it sounds like a win, win, the underlying issue was that in the process, "the process" became the norm and generations of young women lost both self-esteem and knowledge of their kinky heritage.  Chris Rock emphasized his desire to make the movie after his daughter expressed disdain for her own kinky hair and a desire for "good hair."

One year ago, I decided to transition from relaxed to natural hair.  I was curious to see what curly gift God had given me under all the chemicals.  I had not seen my natural hair since I was a child.  Even then, my only memory was my mama popping me in the top of my head with a "hot comb" every time I flinched while she straightened my thick hair.   I was tired of itchy scalp, over-priced styles that lasted 12 hours (until  I went to bed) and my all time favorite quote: "It's damaged, so it's better to just cut it off and start over."  Once I saw other sisters out there with the same struggle,  I was no longer afraid to embrace my nappy.  I wanted to share that with you my sister friends and give my Caucasian loves an FYI.  I have learned a lot from this journey.  I wanted to share a few of them with you:

    1. I is beautiful.  Okay, I learned that from a movie, but I couldn't resist. Ha!  For many years, Black women have been misled into believing that silky straight hair personifies beauty and warrants acceptance.   I believe that to be a slap in the face of  my Creator. God made everything beautiful. The sinful nature of man corrupted God's plan. I adore seeing God's greatness as it pertains to man.  The vast array of  shapes, sizes, colors, gifts and talents of God's people reminds me of His love daily.  I embrace who He has created me to be.  Forever the "smart" girl, I get my "pretty girl rock" when I need to! (wink)

2.  Don't believe the hype and jump on the "back to Africa" bandwagon. The natural journey is a revolving door. I've seen die hard naturals get relaxed, colored and cut by sunset!! It's kinda like selling Amway. We've secretly been to the meeting, some will be committed, others won't. But we've all thought about it! It's all about what works for you at that particular time in your life.  Even the natural sisters can't agree on what "natural" is!  Some of the discussions I've heard on my natural journey:  Can you be natural and use products that contain chemicals?  Or should you only use "natural juices and berries?"  Should you NEVER straighten again? Or can you perpetrate a relaxer with a press n curl? The answer: YES TO  ALL OF THE ABOVE!  There are no rules when it comes to hair.  I wore the same wrap for 20 years.  I've probably had 20 different stylists do it 20 different ways.  I've had foam, setting lotion, saran wrap, rollers, caps, cotton, blow dryers, flat irons, marcels, etc, etc. etc. all to wind up in the same place; straight hair with a slight bend on the ends.  It's all hype! Every stylist has her own technique and specialty. I control my own (hair) destiny.

3. It is what it is.  It's hair. It grows, sheds, shrinks, stretches, darkens, grays, frizzes and falls.  Your friends will like it on Monday and hate it on Tuesday. It is guaranteed to inspire someone else's cut and color as well as their avoidance of the same. Be thankful for what God gave you. Work with it.  If you jack it up, weave it or wig it and keep it moving.  We've all been there.

4. The white people are confused!  I have a small group of Caucasian sisters that have supported me on this journey.  They have the inside scoop and have been very supportive, yet mesmerized by the change in my coif.  But I get tickled at acquaintances that no longer recognize me because of my "70's throwback!!"  I love watching their bewildered eyes bounce back and forth from my 'fro to my face. The old schoolers hate it, but my peers seem to move on after the initial shock. I appreciate the love. You live and learn. It's okay y''s just hair.

Being razed......


  1. I just sent a comment to your recent post "My Black son can't take your white daughter to Prom". In it, I said the very same message that you're saying here: God made you. His creations are perfectly made. Great post!

    This post reminds me of a story I read in college... years ago. "In The Kitchen" by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. It was originally published in the New Yorker on April 18, 1994. To be honest, I still have my Literature book because of this one story. Have you read it?

  2. So I'm a white woman raising three kids--two of whom are black boys. People come up to me all the the time and tell me my baby (who had is his first haircut earlier in the year on his first birthday) has "good hair." And then they tell me that my 4-year-old is cute. :) I'm assuming since they don't mention his hair that he doesn't have "good" hair.
    I have to admit, I am boggled by the term good hair! Just today I was in a group of friends-who are black and were commenting on my baby's hair-- and I asked them what makes some hair good and some hair not. They said good hair has wave in it. So I asked them why is wave good and who determined what good hair is? They really couldn't answer either of these questions. I have black friends who have natural hair and it's beautiful! And I have black friends who get perms and they have beautiful hair, too. It's so confusing to me!!