This is a post that I’ve been starting and not finishing for over a year, and now seemed like the perfect time to complete it—with the impending release of my documentary on the natural hair community!
Anyway, let’s get to it!
I will not burden myself with trying to say this gently:
If you are of, what is considered, the “black race” and you’re still having discussions or in simple conversation making distinctions about “good hair vs. bad hair,” then
YOU…are part of the problem #sorryNOTsorry
See, I grew up constantly hearing the men around me—ages varying—make comments about women’s hair—labeling it good or bad, depending on the texture and length. If it was straight or wavy that automatically equaled “good hair,” and anything outside of that—well, you were just out of luck! Meanwhile, I’m sitting over here with a big ol’ head full of knots, kinks, and everything in between. Along with the direct negativity about my
nigga naps hair that came my way—I developed a subconscious thought-pattern that chanted,
“Your hair is ugly! And that means you’re ugly. You see how he just pointed out that girl with the long, straight hair? Or how about her with the loose curls? Yeah, that’s good hair! Yours will never look like that.”
Many black people have taken on the notion that ethnic hair is not beautiful—failing to realize how disgraceful this is to themselves and other black people—particularly women. To each their own, yes—but when it gets to the point that you feel that a piece of who you are naturally isn’t good enough—then we’ve got bigger issues. Here in Virginia, there’s definitely still a slave mentality that lingers in the psyche of people—black and white—to the point of being so engrained that they don’t know that they’re still carrying it. During slavery, blacks were taught to despise everything about their Africanism. Slave masters worked diligently to divide blacks based on several elements—including skin color, gender, personality type, and different phenotypes. (And being light-skinned didn’t automatically mean you received better treatment—many times it was worse, especially due to sexual abuse. But that’s a post for another day).
Obviously, this warped view and perverted favoritism bled over into how African-Americans viewed themselves and one another. In some ways, it created an even more harmful outcome than the physical captivity that blacks endured. Mental bondage has become one of the longest lasting forms of slavery that still exists today. This damaged mindset has been successful in metastasizing from one member to the next—spreading from generation to generation.
So my question to you is: Why are you continuing to do the work for them?
We, as a people, should be uplifting one another and even appreciating the vast differentiations amongst the black race, yet we use it as a tool to fight and further tear our communities apart.
Some of you may be thinking, “It’s just hair. It’s not that deep.” Well, I beg to differ.
I’ve heard people say directly or through subtle implications that they wanted to be in a relationship with someone because they believed that they would make some “pretty babies” with “good hair” together. Needless to say, that’s just sad. I’m not against interracial dating, but if it has anything to do with you not loving the skin you’re in or self-hatred of your own blackness—then I do find that problematic. Even for black people who date and end up marrying and/or producing kids with another black person while still holding on to this mentality—it’s almost worse! At least those who date outside their race (those doing it for the wrong reason) are up front about their prejudices! You’ve got some black people who don’t even know they’re dealing with issues of self-hatred…then watch ‘em when they have a child. Some think their child is going to come out with “good hair” because the woman has “good hair,” but that doesn’t mean a daggone thing! I don’t care if you are black and you do have silky or wavy hair—that does not mean your child will come out the same way. So then what? You show favoritism to the one who does have “good hair”? (I’ve seen it happen!)
We need more Goldin Harrisons, Robert Gibsons, Anan Scotts, and even J. Coles of the world; strong black men who plant beautiful seeds of inspiration and empowerment for black women–who praise and adore them for being unashamed about who they are. As a black woman, I’ve witnessed how undesirable we are as a group, and it saddens me. I’m so glad that I know my self-worth (now), but I’d be lying if I said I never experienced a time in life, definitely during my teenage years where I felt worthless; that’s a dangerous place to be. For me, it pushed me to excel academically because I just accepted that I wasn’t one of the pretty girls with “good hair,” but for a lot of young women—it pushes them to seek attention in the worst of places, and it’s purely miraculous if they recover from it before someone takes advantage of the vulnerability. For black men who are constantly comparing black women and their hair to other hair types, textures, or other races—just stop. Have you stopped to think about what you’re saying about your own mother? sister? daughter?
Would you want your daughter growing up hearing you always complimenting a certain type of hair texture? You don’t even have to say anything directly to her, but she’ll eventually pick up on it. So the next time the urge comes to say out-of-line stuff like “oh, she got that good hair!”–I’m gonna need you to check your vernacular and reconsider your line of thought. I’m just tired of the ignorance. I’m tired of seeing women of color suffer with accepting their uniqueness and God-given beauty because of what other people say or think. This was the whole reason behind my natural hair documentary, and I just pray that it encourages black women to embrace everything about themselves. So to my daughter and every other woman of color with curls, coils, kinks, knots, waves–or whatever it is that God gave you!
You are BEAUTIFUL!
You are LOVELY!
You are ENOUGH!
And, might I add, your hair is pretty darn GOOD too!
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well