The Natural Hair Movement is rooted in black culture. It embraces or hair, and defies the white supremacist, Eurocentric ideology that we have “unprofessional” and “unattractive” hair. Our hairstyles such as Afros, box braids,Bantu knots etc. have been deemed as unappealing on black people, yet attractive enough for others to appropriate.
A lot of non-black individuals have very negative attitudes towards the Natural Hair Movement, because they don’t understand why it’s for black girls- and not for everyone. The Natural Hair Movement has been passed off by ignorant individuals as racist for putting black first. This is just another example of anti-blackness showing through individuals who lack understanding.
First of all, the term “Natural Hair” does not include everyone with hair on their head. It’s a term for black women whose hair has not been altered by chemicals, like relaxers for example.
When you’re “A Natural”, you’re very engaged in the well being of your natural hair. Coconut oil and Shea Moisture products become your best friends. A Natural embraces their 4c, 4a, 3b, whatever you have, hair types. Sorry non-black people: Beach curls don’t make you a “Natural”. They’re cute though.
The Natural Hair Movement teaches us how to take care of our hair with proper regimens, so that it can be healthy without the harsh chemicals. Black people are the only people who have to be literally retrained and re taught on how to take care of our hair. Black people (especially in the African diaspora), a lot of us do not have this knowledge of hair as we used to, due to a torturous disconnection with ourselves. The Natural Hair movement educates us on what’s best, and what’s worse for our hair, working with our diverse hair types.
Actual laws have been placed against black women and girls for our hair. Girls have been suspended from schools and women have been fired from their jobs for wearing certain hairstyles. The U.S. Military has softened their rules on our hairstyles not too long ago. Institutional racism at its finest. Yet those very same hairstyles that we are punished for wearing, is acceptable enough for others to wear for fashion.
PSA: Our hair/hairstyles is not “just hair”. That’s our culture. Our uniqueness is expressed through every twist, curl, and braids (as well as other mediums). This is not for everyone; I don’t care for any “We are all the same” outcries. The “we are all the same” argument is futile, and only comes up when black people take the first step of self pride against anti-black systems and individuals.
There are not many people who deal with what black people go through with our hair alone. The Natural Hair Movement is tailor made for us. It is a distinct movement, for a people who are socially unaccepted, yet their culture is wanted for consumption. If you are not black, then the Natural Hair Movement is not for you, my friend. Do NOT derail it as a racist movement to exclude others just because. It is for black people who have different experiences with our hair than everyone else, even other People Of Color. The Natural Hair Movement says to love our hair, despite what society says. Anti-blackness certainly is exposed when you start loving yourself when no one else would.
(Follow Nzinga Muhammad on Twitter @QueenNzinga13)