Hair Today, Hair Yesterday

Hey Lovers,

There’s something we need to discuss. . . hair. I’ve really been trying to stay away from this whole hair debate because I’ve been dealing with things of actual importance. However, I can no longer resist. Let’s discuss.

Our players: In 1 corner we have the happy to be nappy, never gonna straighten or weave my $h!^ gang. In the other corner we have the creamy crackheads. In the opposite corner we have the “I don’t leave home without my weave but I call myself natural because I hotcomb my leave out instead of relaxing it.” Finally we have the “whatever works” crew in the remaining corner. FYI I’m in the last corner.

Can someone please explain to me when hair, an inanimate object, became so important and political? At first I thought it was all a fleeting fad when Solange first did her big chop and Chris Rock released “Good Hair,” but that was 3 years ago and this debate seems to have staying power. Why?

I’ll admit I’ve read blog posts and watched Youtube videos about hair, mostly to help me make decisions about what kinds of products I want to purchase or to get ideas about styling. However, recently things have been going way beyond those limits. Lately, people have been tying every hair decision to racial identity, self-esteem and authenticity. That, I do not understand. While I do understand that some people may do (or not do) certain things to their hair out of self-hate or self love I really had no idea that deciding I prefer to relax my hair or being in the mood to rock 16 inches of virgin Malaysian awesomeness means I lack confidence or I’m trying to be White. It doesn’t mean that but some of these Naturalistas think they have figured out my psychology.

I have a request. Can we move on? I’m begging. The hair thing was cute for awhile but like those BBW earrings, it’s now tired. As Black women we have so many more pressing issues. Why is so much time being wasted on discussing hair? I really don’t know (or  care to know) the difference between 4B & 4C nor do I think a hot comb is a good idea but I have not taken a stance against any of these things for people other than myself. This year I’ve had my hair relaxed, natural and weaved. It’s not because I was trying to prove anything. Sometimes I feel like relaxing my hair, sometimes I don’t; it’s actually that simple.

I implore all the people who have made Black hair their crusade to think about a few things. Most new HIV infections occur in women of color. Black women are the least likely to marry. Less than 8% of college degrees are awarded to African-Americans. The median White household has 20 times more wealth the median Black household. Black wealth has dropped 53% while White wealth has only dropped 16%. 73% of Black children are born out of wedlock. Unemployment is as high as 40% in some Black communities. The number of Black women under Criminal Justice supervision is increasing at a rate higher than any other group. I could continue but I think you get the point.

With all the issues facing the world in general and us as Black women specifically, why are we focused on hair? Does the pain of poverty, unequal access to education and the Pampers to Prison Pipeline become more bearable as long as no one is relaxing their hair? I didn’t think so.

I usually don’t go here but. . .I have a conspiracy theory. I’m normally not one for conspiracy theories but I’m pretty confident there has got to be more to this story. Chris Rock told us that White folks are the ones getting paid off of most of our hair product purchases either way and I can only think of 1 Beauty Supply store that I know is Black owned (shout to my girl Regina on Rockaway by the C train). I can’t help but think those who run the institutions of power would prefer that we’re distracted. Could it be that the Powers that Be (read White men) like us wasting time like this? While we’re sitting on CurlyNikki.com and hunting for the best hair milk they’re investing in emerging markets, thinking of the moves they need to make, and making sure their kids have something to inherit.

Think about it. If we banded together against any social issue the way people have banded together against relaxers, we could actually make things happen. With this in mind I’m beyond over this discussion. You’re happy to be nappy; great. You want to let your weave swing; great. A light Cesar is your thing; rock it. Monday-Thursday $10 special Dominican wash & sets are more your speed; that’s cool, you may see me there. Spending 45 minutes detangling and trying to figure out the proper ratio of Aloe, peppermint and Jamaican Black Castor Oil is your idea of a good time; go for it, I’m not judging.

All in all, I’m sure we can agree that no matter what you do (or don’t do) to your hair doesn’t matter as long you stay snatched and have the self esteem to know that you’ll kill everything relaxed or natural, curly or straight, or weave or no weave, short or long.

Is your hair political? Comment below and let me know!

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