Inclusion is a funny thing. While many of us in this generation are all about integration and equality, there’s a few areas of all of our lives where exclusivity is king. The natural hair movement is one of those areas in a Black woman’s life where she’d prefer to be surrounded by her kinky hair textured peers. That doesn’t mean only Black women, however is it very typical that Black women reign in natural hair conversations.
Popular natural hair blogger, Nikki Walton of CurlyNikki.com had a recent feature on her site that showcased a White woman named Sarah, who was asked about the struggles of accepting her natural hair. While I believe that all women have struggles in accepting themselves, especially when it comes to our hair, I don’t think a White woman understands natural hair struggles in the same way. Nikki’s site is on a larger platform these days and that offers itself to inclusion of women who aren’t only Black. So I can’t even be mad at her for featuring Sarah, but if White women are going to start demanding they are allowed in the natural hair conversation, that’s where I’m like…I can’t.
Ebony Senior Editor, Jamilah Lemieux hit the nail right on the head when she said, “Hair is emotional territory for many Black women and while we may be able to share products with White women, we needn’t share a movement that should be centered on overcoming the unique challenges that are thrown our way because of White people.”
When little Black girls are being asked to cut off their beautiful fluffy afros, or face expulsion from school or a girl with dreds is told that her hair is way too much of a distraction and needs to be changed, it’s clear that the world has a problem with Black hair. And these projections don’t help us accept the coils that grow from our scalp. That’s why many of us grow up with a skewed belief as to what’s beautiful and up until the natural hair movement, many Black girls did all they could to hide the natural texture of their hair.
Growing up I often tugged at my short ponytails, wishing they were loose and silky tresses. I hated my natural, breaking-the-comb, always greasy hair growing up. Thank God for the natural hair movement taking over and bringing along with it a sense of pride. But this is what happens when something becomes popular, everyone catches on, no matter if they truly belong as a part of it or not. That’s what we call going mainstream.
I don’t want to condemn women like Sarah for sharing their journey of self-acceptance. Who am I to label someone the wrong skin tone for wanting to enter into a conversation? It’s not like we’re running around in the natural hair blogs, using the N-word. However, there’s a certain level of WTF when you hear, “White woman’s natural hair struggle.” One day Sarah’s embarrassed of her hair, so she pulls it up into a bun. The next day, she’s proud and wears her curls out. Is there a struggle there? Sure. Does it equate to the Black women’s struggle of her natural hair? Hardly. But if all sins are weighed the same, should all hair struggles be?
Personally, I don’t think we should allow women like Sarah to infiltrate something that uniquely belongs to women of color with naturally kinky, coily or curly textured hair that is typically seen as wrong. Allow us to have a safe place where we can talk about our struggles with being told we’re ugly, unkempt, unprofessional or ghetto because our hair doesn’t lay down. If White women want to start their own conversation around accepting their natural hair, then so be it. Start one. But let us have ours.
This is not about women’s rights. This is about hair. Black women have a unique texture to our hair. Our hair is different, so our conversations around it are different. And that’s ok. This doesn’t make us racist. It doesn’t make us anything, but comfortable–especially around having candid chats about our hair and our daily struggles. Most of which stem from being force fed images of women with long flowing hair, pressuring us all to hate what’s actually growing from our scalps.
These natural hair conversations have helped us raise our self-esteem, change our little girls’ opinions of their kinks; we now hold our heads just a little higher. But who knew we’d look up to see White women wanting a piece of this chat?
We can ban together all day on issues like birth control, rape or domestic violence, plus many other things that directly effect us all as one, but when it comes to natural hair–the conversation belongs to us.