Black Encounters: One Girl’s Hair Story

I try to stay to myself. I don’t bother others and I rarely solicit suggestions or critiques about my appearance.  Yet people feel the need to express their discontent with my personal choices, especially my hair. When I was younger I always found myself defending my hair against comments from my white classmates. Weave was a perpetual stay in my hair arsenal, thus I would be called names such as “Weavy Wonder” and “Horse Killer.” But I didn’t let this bother me because I saw them as ignorant white kids who had a vengeance for one of the few black kids in their exclusive class of honor. Screaming hostile remarks were used to settle our disagreements, and at some point I made a vow t0 never again to give them the satisfaction of upsetting me.  These experiences helped me develop tough skin, which has protected me from the hardest realization. Not everyone is open to accept my natural beauty.

Gone are the days of basket weave updo’s and hellacious endeavors to “tame” my hair. I’ve been natural for over 3 years and it’s been revealing from the start. My family did everything but disown me when I did the Big Chop. From lectures about “Hair is a Woman’s Glory” to questions about my finances and sexuality, I’ve gained a bit of insight about some detrimental beauty ideas within the black community. But if there should be anybody to criticize my look, it would be my family. What I don’t understand is why co-workers and associates of associates have the audacity to make shallow and asinine remarks about my hair. I love twistouts and one day my co-worker (and must I mention she’s black) felt obligated to inform me that my hair was reminiscent of Buckwheat. But she’s not alone, a male co-worker ( yes, a brother) thought it was funny to give me that nickname as well.

Last night at dinner I suffered one of the worse assaults yet from a black woman determined to make me feel as small and insignificant as possible.  Her issue was the process of maintaining natural hair and she continually made demeaning comments about how nappy my hair was and how she didn’t understand how it could take so long to wash nappy hair. Trying to be a good Samaritan, she even offered a few associates we had in common who I could reference if I needed to know what good hair looked like, indicating mine was not and thus I need to end the charades and return to the creamy crack.

I expected this down south, but New York is supposed to be progressive and oh, so pro-black. Admittingly, there is a much larger natural hair community here, and these fools don’t compare to the daily compliments and affirmation I receive walking through my beloved Harlem. Yet, the fact that black people living in the 21st century find natural black hair problematic and an abomination hurts my heart. I didn’t care when white kids ridiculed my hair, but to hear it from people who share the same struggle and features as I do is distressing. How much progress have we really made when black people perpetuate hate and disdain for blackness? And I’ve been trying to turn over a new leaf in my life, so when incidents like this arise I avoid confrontation. But it’s getting hard. I wish there was an App to educate people about the beauty and uniqueness of blackness and the detriment of the Eurocentric standard of beauty, but society has yet to advance that far. If anyone has any advice please share, because my patience is waning and I don’t know how much longer I can turn the other cheek. I can’t wait for  the day when black people stop talking about good hair and start loving the blessing God gave us.

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One thought on “Black Encounters: One Girl’s Hair Story

  1. Being part of the natural community has been hard for me too. It has been a true eye opener that its not white people who make us as blacks be looked down upon but our own race. Since ive been natural for going on two years… For the second time ive heard everything from “why you cut your hair.. You look better with long straight hair.. You dont look cute now” to “that mess on ya head is nappy & you need to do something with it”. Because I dare to be different & break the mold of society’s long flowing locks do I deserve to be treated differently. I love my hair but it does not make me. For the small minded people who cant see that natural is not “nappy” but a sense of enpowerment.. A break from the mold.. A breath of fresh air; I feel sorry for you.. Because IM FREE THE MOLD OF SOCIETY.. IM NATURAL & IM BEATIFUL!!

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