Black Hair Issue: I am Not My Hair

Black Hair Issue: I am Not My Hair

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This article is all about hair. Not any type of hair, but black hair. It is important for me to discuss this topic because of situations like this: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/21/nyregion/black-hair-decriminalization-ny.html. If you read the article, you will see that Black hair has been criminalized, scrutinized and questioned by so many in the dominant culture. I cannot tell you the number of times that I have been asked to have my hair touched, or have someone ask me “did I get a haircut” when I take my braids down and wear my natural hair for a period of time.

The fact that the city of New York had to ban discrimination based on hairstyle is pretty sad to me. We still live in a culture that associates personal choice of hairstyle with oppression. If a young Black girl or boy goes to school with braids, afros, or dreadlocks, they are at risk for being kicked out of school or turned away from opportunities. The freedom to express ourselves through our hair is even being policed. Black hair has become a trigger for no good reason at all. While we may think that this type of discrimination is common in the sales world, it expands far beyond that.

I saw a recent quote that says “If your hair is relaxed, then white people are relaxed.” This was so striking to me because there is some truth behind it. If we do not conform to what society is comfortable with seeing, then we will get funny looks or be questioned about why we wear our hair that way. We need to move away from the assumptions that “natural black hair” is dirty, or unprofessional, or whatever other misconceptions we make about the appearance of black hair. I choose to celebrate the beauty that is the Black woman, and that includes the variety of styles that we choose to wear on our heads.

Please enjoy this video from Allure that showcases 100 years of black hair:

 

Photo by Calvin Lupiya on Unsplash

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