A magazine for Africans and friends of Africa...Our Voices, Our Vision, Our Culture

The Natural Hair Uprising
By Ibukun Akinnawo

Say you are in your favourite coffee shop, reading a newspaper, minding your own business and a woman walks in sporting dreadlocks or an afro. The first few things you would think of her would be that she has some extreme views about society, is making a political statement or cannot afford good weaves. But what if she simply loves the wiry strands that grow out of her scalp?
In the 1800s, lighter-skinned, straight-haired slaves commanded higher prices at auctions than darker, kinky-haired ones leading blacks to promote the thought that dark skin and kinky hair are worth less and less attractive. The idea that 'straight is best' was so embedded in the African American DNA that, by the time the 'Black is Beautiful' movement hit in the 60s, the simple act of embracing Black hair was considered a revolutionary statement. The revolution is growing and a 2010 survey conducted by Design Essentials says that 36% of women have ditched relaxers and chosen to believe Black hair is good. Probably a large number of the 64% left think their kinks should be hidden away in straight weaves and extensions. We think that because Black hair is a lot tougher than that of other races, it should be relaxed, coloured and flat-ironed into submission. In reality, the only thing wrong with Black hair is the thought that there is something wrong with it in the first place.
This isn’t a weave-bashing article neither is it about making political statements with Black hair. It’s about the unfortunate thing that comes with the natural hair 'uprising': the malice towards women who choose not to wear their hair natural. Maybe it’s the defiantly competitive nature in the African woman but wearing hair natural does not make us any more or less African than we already are. The one thing that should be dealt with is the thought that Black hair is bad. After that has been dealt with in the minds of African women, we can objectively decide which hair path is best for us to take. If you decide to go natural, do not bash other people's heads with your curling custard. If you choose to wear your hair relaxed/treated, don't fight naturals with your flat-irons and no-lye relaxers.
Make a conscious decision to mind only the hair on your head, preaching the simple gospel, Black hair is good. Black hair is good enough to be worn in bantu-knots or Peruvian weaves. It is good enough to be braided or straightened. Wear your hair out if you please or get a stylish bob like Rihanna if you so desire, but never neglect the beauty that grows out of your head.
Weaves should always be a choice, never a crutch. Black hair is good natural, relaxed, coloured, straightened, locked, whatever.