(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
A lot of things have opened my eyes since I found the black conscious side of the internet and around 2010-2011 when I found the natural hair side of YouTube. People from both of these communities encourage black women to wear their own hair the most. Some black women’s response to this is that it’s “just hair” and it “shouldn’t be that serious”.
I believe it’s NOT just hair. Thinking about the history of how black men and black women have been disrespected and discriminated against for their real hair is enough for me to see that, already. But there are a lot more examples that show me that it’s not “just hair”.
Many black women can’t even call their hair JUST hair. We always have to put a descriptor or something in front before we say hair when we talk about our hair. For instance, instead of calling our hair JUST hair, we call our hair “natural” hair or “4a/b/c” hair. Black women are literally the only group on the planet that has to call our hair “natural” or refer to our hair as subcategories. I don’t hear white, Asian or any other race of people, calling their hair “natural” or referring to their hair as “1a/b/c” and so forth.
I also hear a lot of black women calling their hair a “crown”. Our hair isn’t a crown! It’s HAIR! I believe we call our hair a “crown” because we’ve been made to think negatively about our hair for so long and we say that so we can feel better about our hair. Crowns are associated with royalty. So if we call our hair “crowns”, we can feel like we’re associated with kings and queens when we wear our own hair. Honestly, I feel like that it so unnecessary. We shouldn’t have to think of our hair that way just so we can be happy with it.
This reminds me of a children’s book I saw on social media a few years ago titled Penny and the Magic Puffballs, where a black woman wrote a book to help her daughter, I believe, feel better about her hair because she wanted straight hair like all the other girls around her. She styled her daughter’s hair into puffballs and called them “magic”. I understand the message, but I just think that it’s sad that a little black girl’s hair has to be called “magic” just to get her to be happy with it. It can’t JUST BE hair.
Whenever black women are finally breaking away from wearing weaves, wigs, and relaxers, and are started to wear and take care of their real hair, they refer to wearing their real hair as a “journey”. Wearing the hair you were born with exactly as it grows out of your scalp without altering it shouldn’t be a “journey”. It should just be you finally not being afraid of wearing your hair.
When I go into the hair products aisle in every store and see every product labeled as JUST hair products, but the black hair products have to be called “natural” hair products makes me sick and angry.
Most black female cartoon characters and dolls are depicted with straight hair and they aren’t even real. If it’s just hair, how come most black female fictional characters and dolls don’t even have our textured hair?
This society made us feel that we have to call our hair something different because they’re uncomfortable with it. This is why I believe it’s important for us to get rid of the fake hair and hair straighteners anyway just to give a FUCK YOU to this obviously racist society that tries so hard to make us hate everything about ourselves.
We are constantly calling our hair everything except JUST hair. So, the next time I hear someone say it’s “just hair”, I will know it’s a lie. I think people only say that because they know that the encouraging people are right about black people embracing our own hair, but they don’t want to listen. They just say that because they don’t have a better rebuttal. Black people and this society as a whole clearly have an issue with our hair.