Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Natural Hair should not be a Phenomenon

Its so interesting to see so many websites, blogs, magazines and groups dedicated to the 'natural hair phenom'.  The great debate over Black women and their hair has taken an unusual interest and increased activity online and off.  However, the reality is when I'm in typical places like the mall, restaurants, and occassionally a nightclub, I don't see a lot of 'natural' sisters.  The perm is still the 'standard' and is still the overall obsession for Black women.  It has been a good uptick for the naturalites because many hair salons are incorporating more natural elements to their services which is far better than the creamy crack and typical bleaching out of Black hair. 

Everybody has their journey and everyone who has made the transition to acceptance, has shown growth and even a better attitude about themselves once they go 'natural'.  Everyone speaks on the journey from  being a little girl getting relaxed, straightened and hot combed to burns.  A ridiculous ritual that continues well into adulthood and seniorhood if any hair is still there by then.

So I had to put my .02 in this phenom, because everywhere, and I mean anywhere I go people always want to know one thing.... 'how long have you been growing your locks' and when I tell them, their eyes go oh.  Like they can't even remember what they were doing  or if they were even born back then.  I've been growing my locs or rather been 'natural' since 1993.  The exact date Dec. 26, 1993 because everything that happened up to that point in my life was a big blur... I really didn't know who I was.  I had done everything to my hair to escape the pressure of being real.  Weaves, blonde, braids, extensions constantly, a revolving door or fakedom I had no escape from.  It was never just me. Its hard to be real, when society has told us to be fake, but its very rewarding when you decide to be real.

It was a dream that changed my life and changed my hair.  A dream that shadowed me in grace, warmth, protection and fortitude.  A warm glowing light was shining above my 'crown' and my hair was natural, in this dream, was unlike any dream I had ever had, it moved me so deeply and personally that the next day when I woke up Dec. 26, 1993, I went to the barber shop and told them to cut all that blonde ish out of my hair.  I had taken the weave out and it was just a hot blonde mess.  The barber laughed and teased me terribly, 'how short you want it honey'? he asked.  "Cut it all off" I said.  Affirmatively he did so.  But when I got out of his chair and saw what was left of my 'true' hair, I raised the bar.  He wasn't laughing at me no more, in fact he was surprised and delighted at how beautiful I looked.  I came in as a shell and left as a queen.  From that day on I've been 'natural' and locing my hair. 

The influences at that time in my life were Rastafari.  I have to give so much love and respect to Rastafari because it was this prophetic and minimal lifestyle and historical relevance from jamaica that changed my whole outlook on myself.  The cultural integrity of Rastafarians made me revere and respect them a great deal, and I only wanted to be one of them, carrying this legacy of Black redemption.  Locing my hair definately had spiritual significance, and cultural signficance.  I'm not one of those 'dread's walking around with no perception of its importance to me, or it being just a fashion thing.  Because Locs never go out of 'style' NEVER!  As well, when i started growing I wasn't caught up in keeping them 'pretty' and all, I wanted to just exist you know like I had never done so.  As they grew in length I was able to shape and form them, and learn how to take care of them.  By the time I had been growing them for over 5 years, I wrote a book in 1998-99 called "Spiral Identity: the Majesty and Mystery of Black Hair".    I journaled my story just as I see so many sisters doing today.  When I was doing it, the internet was just a grain of salt and the idea of making money off such a thing wasn't reality back then.  But now the natural hair phenom has taken on grand dimensions and its a wonderful thing to see.  But as i look at so many going 'natural' I can only hope in the next 18 years or so, they will still be, and the idea of being natural will not be a phenomenon but the standard.