I’ll answer it simply–no. Well, at least not yet.
Recently, a video on Un-Ruly.com from their “Black Hair Is…” campaign sparking an ongoing, heated debate that asks: Can the natural hair care community include non-Black women? Watch the video here below:
We know Black women started the natural hair care movement more than 10 years ago, quietly and out of necessity online and in their own kitchens mixing products because Black women were majorly ignored in the beauty market. Fast forward to today, natural hair has become a $2.5+ billion business after big corporations peeped its profitability. Now the definition of natural hair has broadened, as women of all colors began using products birthed out of the movement.
Does that automatically give all women a pass into the natural hair space? Not so fast.
To be clear, all hair is beautiful hair, and all women are beautiful. The battle for self-love and hair acceptance is a universally painful problem for curly-haired women, no matter your racial identity.
With all this said, there are levels to this. Those levels include the deep complexities of colonization, racism and daily realities that are unique to only Black women, which don’t equate to sharing co-washing and pineappling tips. I know there are non-Black women who respect that.
While the whole situation seems like yet another case of Columbus’ing Black culture, I can’t say that is my main issue with including non-Black women in the natural hair space. There are several business owners of color who have profited tremendously from natural hair going mainstream, and I’m not mad at it. My main concern is with this idea of inclusivity. The kind of inclusivity projected on Black women that constantly feels contradictory and somewhat out of convenience that always asks me to sacrifice so much of myself. This distorted take on inclusion diminishes, even erases, the backstory of the very minority group that started the movement in response to being underrepresented in the first place for the sake of said solidarity. (See also: the #MeToo movement as we know it).
While the textured hair girl struggle is real, they are not all the same. There is no shaming in that distinction. Black women can happily share our hair care secrets, but we cannot share our pride or our pain. Black women taking ownership of this movement we started is not maliciously dismissing white women or anyone else. It is simply zoning a safe space we so desperately need to celebrate ourselves in a society that has a hard time doing so.
I would urge non-Black women to apply their same passion for inclusion into the natural hair community to advocating for women of color elsewhere. I’d suggest starting in professional spaces, where Black women have lost jobs, had less upward mobility, were shamed, suffered anxiety or couldn’t get hired because they wore their hair in its natural state in the workplace. Or make it a priority to unify with us every time we rally against a person of color falling victim to police violence, before becoming yet another hashtag that eventually goes away. This is the place we need to get to before we can begin bridging the matter of hair. Black women, it is okay to acknowledge we still need that healing to take place first.
Until the fight for inclusivity and unity happens everywhere in all things, it’s an unfair ask of Black women to share something so deeply personal and rooted in our heritage. Perhaps in the future, but as a collective we’re clearly not there now.
Beauties, what do you think?