I attended a national track and field championship event recently where there were athletes competing from Delaware, Florida, New Jersey, New York and other neighboring states.
At this multi day event,I was abundantly pleased to see the great number of black female athletes sporting their natural hair. Some with braids, some afros and headbands, some twist outs and up-do’s…
I remember a time when the idea of being called ‘nappy’ or worse, ‘black and nappy’ was terribly painful. Now these young sisters, high schoolers to as young as 6 or 7, were rocking their nappy, kinky hair with ease and confidence. And it was intentional, not a mistake based on no time to press n comb.
These young women weren’t making any obvious political statements in their hair styles either. It just seemed to be the trend on certain teams... gorgeous chunky afros!
Although there was the occasional weave here and there, it was rare. The pleasure and pride I felt was immense watching our girls embrace a natural part of themselves that had been (and remains for some) a horrendous source of conflict, inner and outer.
It appears that we, as a community, have arrived to a time where the acceptance of natural blackness is trending.
The ‘freedom’ enjoyed by black girls wearing their own cultural hair styles shouldn’t need to be a cause for celebration...however in understanding our American history, it MUST be recognized as progress. The decades and generations we have spent being cultured in black inferiority requires that we celebrate and recognize acts of self love, major and minor.
For most nationalities, it is uncommon to relate to the mindset of self hate sustained by blacks in America and blacks abroad. For most nationalities other than black, they have had the freedom to bask in their own heredity and physical traits as beautiful.
Thankfully, this is gaining traction in many of our communities.
For some readers, there may be the question, what is the big deal with black women and their hair?
For those readers, I say this: consider looking in the mirror at your hair texture, the shape of your nose, the thinness or thickness of your lips, the hues of your skin and eyes and the build of your body....now imagine that each feature is a handicap, an ugliness, a source of derision, scorn and mockery...these features not so easily hidden or changed are targets of hate by people with influence and power...you cannot outrun the ugliness you were born with and everywhere you go, people remind you of it...so you are attached to the source of your pain, inherited from your parents who have these very same unsightly traits that you will also pass on to your offspring…
It is unbelievable the degree of effort employed to make blacks hate themselves. Therefore, the effort must be even greater to restore our love and admiration of self.
This is the movement I love. This is the trend I am witnessing.
And it is not all about natural hair; it’s just that the embracing of natural hair can be a sign of us embracing ourselves more deeply.
The struggle is not near over however. Many black women often hit roadblocks in employment when their natural hairstyles are outside of employee appearance guidelines where perms and weaves are favored.
So this does remain an ongoing issue...but if what I witnessed in the confidence of those young girls was any indication, things may be changing at a quicker pace than in years past.
Nurah strives to enlighten, empower and engage her readers with the wealth of knowledge she has gained from her own experiences and those of others from whom she has learned.