Continuing the conversation about Who’s Responsible for the Natural Hair Movement, plain-talking Breukelen Bleu and I hashed this issue out on You Tube…
This this amazing comment followed…
This was an outstanding conversation. I admit that I was about to be angry because I thought you were going to be pushing a meme that white men helped start the natural hair movement or something. But I did listen and I appreciate this conversation and the honesty that you and Kendall brought to the table. My comment is going to be very long, so bear with me: I’m a couple of years older than you and Kendall, and my experiences with my natural hair mirrors that of Kendall in most respects. I grew up in the American South (Atlanta), so hat makes my story interesting. (The self-hatred in the black community is no joke.) There are three waves of my natural hair journey: (1) my college years, which were in late 80s, early 90s; (2) my graduate school years where I moved to the D.C. area, mid-90s; and (3) my pre-middle-age years, 2000 to now. In the 80s and 90s, pro-black consciousness was taking over the black community and I was in college. I was militant! Obsessed with the conscious rap groups X Clan, Poor Righteous Teachers, Public Enemy, the Racionais MC’s, etc. But, with all the talk about being “conscious”, even Sistah Souljah didn’t wear her hair in its natural state, but I did.
Now, mind you, I was always teased for “acting white” because I was smart and was also into Alternative music. The truth is that I was very pro-black—like Kendall, I would read and study Van Sertima, Cress Welsing, the thoughts and teachings of Khalid Muhammad, Neely Fuller, John Henrik Clarke…mostly black male thinkers and scholars. No one could tell me that I wasn’t “woke”. I shaved my hair and wore Malcolm X and Garvey t-shirts with big earrings. Those same negroes who accused me of “wanting to be white” were the same ones that would accuse me of being a lesbian, of hating black men (huh?), of wanting to go back to Africa with my nappy hair, etc. These same people—mostly, and sadly black women—permed and burned their hair straight so much that it was often stuck to their heads. After I graduated from college, I allowed members of my family to convince me to relax my hair again so that I could get a job—and so I did.Fast forward a few years, I moved to D.C. to attend graduate school and decided to do the big chop again. I was the only black woman in the class, so when I showed up with no hair, no one recognized me, and the teacher—a white male—made these snide comments in front of the entire class. Amazingly I was unfazed. I loved my new look. Rocked it for about 3 years, then was convinced again that no black man would have me and I wouldn’t be able to find a job after graduate school if I wore my hair in its natural state. Most of the hate was from black people.
But there were times that black women would approach me privately, most of them telling me that they wished they could ‘go natural’ but that they didn’t have the head shape for it, nor “good hair”. I remember asking them if they had ever seen their hair in its natural state…and if not, how would they know what it would do and not do? Anyway, I eventually gave in to the creamy crack again. Met a man at a professional conference who would eventually become my husband. I met him when my hair was, once again, relaxed. So, fast forward, again, in late 90s, early 2000s—I really wanted to ‘go natural’ again, but was convinced that the man I love would never accept it. But until I learned to embrace my natural beauty and loved myself enough not to care, I wanted to learn more. In 2001, I joined websites like Long Hair Care Forum and Long Hair Don’t Care; I read numerous blogs to learn more about how to grow out natural hair without having to do the big chop. I approached my man (married by then), sat him down, and explained my desire to go natural. I told him that this is something that I had to do for my own emotional and mental health. I also explained to him what ‘going natural’ would entail, mainly that I would probably need to cut my very long hair short. He sat and listened but didn’t seem to get it at first. I explained to him how much I agonized over this decision but that it was important to me. I told him what to expect. I wasn’t feeling it at all. He didn’t want me cutting my hair off, and he didn’t understand natural hair at all. The next week, I did it and came home with no hair. He was shocked but he LOVED it! I couldn’t believe it. He actually loved it! I’ve been natural going on 16 years now. And I agree with the ladies: This notion that black men were the progenitors of the so-called natural hair movement is a flat-out lie. The Head of the He-man Black Women Haters Club claims that it was he who, though his abusive soliloquys on “hair hats”, convinced black women to go natural. And all the black men who held black women in contempt for wearing stinky weaves and molded relaxers love natural hair and were only being abusive to get us to change our ways and go natural. BULLSHIT!
Why aren’t these same men dating or married to women with natural hair that they claim to love so much? It’s nonsense and they know it! Now there’s a new meme going around that we nappy-headed hoes are only ‘going natural’ to please white men. It’s sad and sick because I’m hearing “pro-black” women who are wearing weaves and wigs repeat this same nonsense. And we all know that the black community is full of shit. There are literally thousands of YouTube channels, blogs, and websites devoted to natural hair. When I ride the train every morning, I can count on one hand the number of relaxed/wigged/weaved-up black women. Even when I go home to the South for a visit, most of my cousins from “the country” are now natural. Most of my family members are natural. My mother grew her sisterlocks down her back and she’s in her 70s. There are more family members and friends who are natural than are not. However, what do we see on YouTube and social media from the black women hater crew? Complaints about black women wearing weaves and wigs. They are deliberately ignoring all the black women who are now natural and have been natural…even longer than I have.By the way, we natural haired women still have a ways to go to overcome our internalized inferiority complex with this hair texture thing. The quest for “the curl” is another form of self hatred.Thank you so much for his discussion. We need to continue to have similar discussions on the bullshit coming from many black men in the black community—pretending to love natural hair. FOH!