Tuesday, February 2, 2010

You know it ain't nevah gonna die, right?

The discussion about Black hair, I mean.

Me personally, I'm weary of it but it seems like as a collective, we'll never get tired of talking about our hair. It's that complex so I know, like most every Black woman, that this won't be the last time I talk about it--whether I'm tired of the topic or not. We seem to like to sit around remembering what went on with our hair as children. The trauma mostly, although some folks have fond memories of bonding with their mothers or whoever took care of their hair. And because of all the emotion we have tied up in a hair we protest vehemently when someone says, "It's just hair" and insist but . . . but . . . how can it be "just hair"? But, If an individual decides that to them it's just hair, why can't it just be?

I'm one of those folks who say that it is, after all is said and done, just hair. This is the most balanced and sane approach for me. If I lost all my hair today, admittedly it would be difficult but because of the journey I've been through, it wouldn't be some earthshaking event. I'd be okay. I've learned the hard way not to tie up my identity in what my hair is doing. According to some, me wearing a lowboy right now is speaking volumes about who I am and what I think. It's not simply how I am choosing to wear my hair. It just has to be more. Fundamentally, though I am who I am. Whether anyone who's looking at me thinks so or not.

I don't think it's healthy for me to have all this energy balled up in something as fragile and non-living as hair. I know. I've been there. Automatically thinking brothers with locks had some kind of consciousness going on. Sisters with natural hair were natural sisters. Thinking if I were going to wear natural hair, I shouldn't do x, y or z. I've been there watching locks thin and break. Starting over and getting filled with hope only to have it happen all over again. If the first set of locks I ever started had stayed with me, I would have had them for 7 years this year. And again I'm only speaking for myself. That place of worry and angst about what will people think. What will they say? What does it say about me? What am I saying? It can turn into a real deep well of sorrow and frustration especially if what you want to happen with your hair won't happen with it. When what you wish to see ain't what's going on. It can turn into a cage when you want to do something with it but can't because you don't know how it will be received, how folks will react and what they will assume and how they will treat you based on their assumptions.

The hubby has locks that extend past his waist. When he complains of how hard it is to wash them, to exercise with them, to live with them, I never flippantly say, "So just cut it!" I know how important his hair is to him. If he says, "You know, I'm thinking about cutting it," you'll never hear me say, "Don't do it!" I usually say to him, "Babes, do whatever makes you the most comfortable." His locks are still on his head and probably will be for a long time to come.

I kind of see it like this. To a Muslim, the Koran is sacred and holy. To an Atheist, it's pretty much another book. It really doesn't make sense for the Muslim to keep shouting at the atheist about how holy the Koran is and it equally doesn't make sense for the Atheist to keep insisting to the Muslim that it's just another book. It's also equally ridiculous for the Muslim or the atheist to assume that everyone he meets holds the Koran in the same regard.

So if hair is not just hair to you, that's okay. But if it is just hair to someone else, that's okay too.

But don't misconstrue . . . I wish every Black woman could love every aspect of wearing their hair the way it grows out of their head. I personally believe Black hair in it's natural state is the most beautiful hair on top of a Black woman's head. But at the end of the day, it is what is. And it always will be.

Photo Credit: Olaf Hajek via http://www.ba-reps.com/blog/tag/books/

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice post. You know, I never got all hung up on hair either. I have natural hair, but unlike the assumptions people make, I actually went natural out of laziness and tiredness of getting a perm/maintenance. Little did I know natural hair is work (caveat: its not if you wear a fro like I did for 4 straight years without doing ANYTHING - anything at all to it- literally). Even as a child my mom said I hated having my hair done...when we were in Nigeria I happily had it all chopped off. It's just hair.

Although, now that I have been "enlightened"....its just my "natural" hair. :-) Maybe I'm just contrary.

cheers, chica

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