December 18, 2009

Black, Blacker, Blackest Hair

The idea of hair being used as a measurement of 'blackness' is common among the natural hair community and the Black community as a whole. What do I mean by this statement? Well, the idea that having coily or curly hair places a person among a group of Black people who have mixed heritage is a cause of concern for me. This idea also extends to the length of hair a person may have. The phrase "Nigerian hair" is synonymous with 'hard to manage hair' that may be viewed for lack of a better word as 'tough', the type of hair that breaks combs and cut nails when trying to style it. This hair type is viewed by many in our community as REAL African hair but this view is wrong. Not all people of African descent have this type of hair and if they do not have a thicker more kinkier texture as I just described that does not mean that they are of mixed ancestry.

Among Europeans, naturally straight, wavy and curly hair are equally represented. Nature selects what type of hair we will have and the length it will achieve when allowed to reach its maximum potential. These genes are present in every race and their are variations among ethnic groups. Among people of African descent we have curly, coily and cotton textured hair represented equally and questioning the validity of one's heritage because their hair may clump and curl more easily is not acknowledging the many variations among people of African descent. Black women that have significant length to their hair can attest to the questions that confront their 'blackness'. It is fair to state that many people of African-American and Afro-Caribbean descent can attest to the variety of mixed ancestry within our family genealogy but how about the people born and raised in Africa? Some of the most healthiest and longest hair I've seen was of women from Ghana, Nigeria, and Ethiopia to give a few examples. Most are very aware of their genealogy and do not have mixed ancestry, it is simply their genes.

No hair texture is better than the other and having a looser curl or coil should not heighten our curiosity to know 'what are they mixed with?' These questions can be taken as offensive and viewed as ignorant. Furthermore, if a person of African descent is of significant mixed ancestry than so what? If they are Black than why do they have to explain their hair texture which would automatically place them outside of the African experience. Variety is natural and justifying your blackness is tired, next!
Hair should not be used to justify our treatment of others or to create an image of who we think that person is. Hair is personal but it doesn't make the person. My experiences are my own and as a Black woman my 'blackness' is sacred.


Tiffany said...

I don't think people realize how ignorant they are when they start deblacking and degrading someone by talking about their hair texture etc.

b. said...

You said it well and I thank you.

Olivia said...

Morning Nu, you said it loud & said it well. People these days will still be judging & criticizing others based on their hair texture, its not new, not cool & we should definitely move on.

The Randomness said...

Very well articulated and thank you!