The Politics Of Black Hair
Kinks. Coils. Waves. Locs.
It really doesn’t matter how you wear or refer to your hair we know there is a whole culture attached to and surrounding it. The aforementioned fact would be mystifying if it were not connected to the broader culture that is often imitated but never duplicated. We’ll leave that conversation for a different day. Staying on point for this post though we have to discuss the obsession with Black hair. Do we understand it? Yes and no.
Yes, in the sense that it is truly the embodiment of Black Girl Magic. It is the perfect accessory to whatever outfit we have on, whatever event we are going to and it is most certainly always a mood. It is a finger-snapping, eye-catching, elegant reflection of who we are. Just with our hair alone we can gather you. It is the expression of the person lucky enough to possess it. It is gravity defying and all encompassing in one pass.
Knowing that? Yeah. We get it. We see why it is sought after so heavily. We understand the envy of those that understand its existence and the power it wields. Hence the appropriation and the need to regulate it. The latter point takes me to why some may not understand the obsession. No, in the sense that it should not still be a cultural anomaly. In 2019 there are still negative implications to black hair. Those are rooted in the oppressive culture that persists and pervades all our lives every day. Historically we were made to cover our hair. In slavery, it was common practice. Maybe the hair of our ancestors was as eye-catching and upsetting to some of those women then as it is now... I’ll digress.
There is some dissonance that the persons that were relegated to being beneath you, less than and other types of falsehood tools of oppression have circumvented that. Through that circumvention the power enjoyed as a result of that circumvention is dissipating. Yes, it is simply that “deep”. There are still laws being passed in 2019 to allow this Black Girl Magic to just be. We have worn the stigma of being viewed as unprofessional or ghetto for the wearing the same styles that are being classified as chic on runways and in boardrooms by our counterparts.
The refusal to acknowledge these intersectionalities lends to this obsession.
We submit that this hair and everything that it gloriously represents will never be contained and the exotic beauty this hair perpetuates cannot be erased. You can’t put on this hair, these styles and possess our uniqueness. Now, I hear the devils’ advocate in the room. We just want to wear the hair style. We are not trying to appropriate your culture. I understand that, however, you very simply are. If you choose to wear the baby hair, the cornrows, the “French” braids and the locs. I urge you to understand the complexity, the history and the pain the way you appreciate do beauty. Don’t stop there. Advocate for it and the culture it came from the way you enjoy it; freely, openly and without apology.
Yours in solidarity and regality,