Friday, November 20, 2009


Last semester my cultural anthropology professor posed the question "what is the value of hair and what are its implications?". For me as an African American, hair is one of the most if not the most sensitive subjects within our race. Hair has been such a pervasive issue in our community that Chris Rock decided to direct a movie, all about black hair. As a black person, hair and its importance is something learned from birth. Little black girls are scolded by their mothers for "sweatin' out their perm" or getting their hair wet, in essence ruining the masterpiece that often takes hours to create. black men (myself included) are conditioned to brush our hair every night, add a little water, pomade and a wave cap in hopes that when we wake up in the morning our hair is flat and wavy. We have so many terms to describe bad hair that it begs the question "what is bad hair anyway?". Nigga naps,the kitchen, bead d beads, cabbage patch, nappy headed are all words that black people frequent to describe their hair yet there is only one word that describes desirable hair.."good hair". Why do we have so many words that negatively describe our hair? Is this a sign of self hatred? If so, does it have its roots in slavery? I believe so. There was a time in this country when a black woman could not get a job as a washerwoman if she didn't have her hair straightened. My mom has always been complemented on her long straight hair but even when she went natural it posed a problem in the office. I've noticed over the years that black women do their hair as if they're angry with it or fighting it. Violently laying it down with heavy pomade, literall burning it with a hot comb or burning their scalp with relaxers. The other day I was hanging out with my Dominican friends and they unknowingly showed their prejudice. First off, it is evident that many Hispanic countries have a high population of Africans. In the Dominican Republic 90% of the people have African ancestry yet know one calls themselves black, instead they say a softer word "Morena" which means brown. Many black women go to Dominican "doobie" shops, claiming that they know how to do hair better then some black salons. The fact that Dominicans know how to do our hair (or their hair whichever you prefer) better then us proves the hypocrisy of their prejudice. My Dominican friend said that his mom hates black people but her grandfather was black. He even pointed out that you can see her African ancestry because she has bad hair. I said "whats bad hair?" He stumbled for a moment, realizing that I was correcting him and said "well you know...nappy". I was irritated and insulted at first but then I realized that I have often harbored the same sentiments about black hair. There have been times when I've looked at people with really thick course hair and my reaction was like shock (and not in a good way). Often in our community good hair usually refers to hair that resembles European hair. My pastor, also inspired by Chirs Rocks movie preached a sermon about self love. He said many things that were profound but one statement stuck out. "Waves mean nothing without a WORD on the inside. The word of God will radiate from within you and you will be beautiful because of that alone. How can we sit here and reject what GOD has ordained as beautiful and adopt a human of the flesh concept of beauty?" I am in complete agreement with my pastor on this issue. Now that I have been enlightened on the subject I would submit to you that if you don't love you, it is irrational to think that someone else will.

Ya Basta,