So... I've been interested in black hair a lot lately. Partly because one of my children has black hair, but also because a dear friend of mine lent me the movie Good Hair and it was really eye-opening for me. And she was gracious enough to text back and forth with me as I watched it so I could ask her even more questions. And then I watched the Daily Show recently and Michelle Obama was on there and all I could think about was that she had relaxed hair... then I spent a lot of time wondering if it was a weave (since I now know exactly what that is and where they come from). And I even asked myself the question, "I wonder if Obama would have been elected if his wife had natural hair." (There's a part in Good Hair where several high school girls are asked if they will need to relax their hair in order to get good jobs and they all answer resoundingly yes.)
I've never been one to do much to my hair. Honestly, I used to get a hair cut once every 18 months, cut off 10 inches to donate to Locks of Love and then start it all over again. I did this for five years or so. I had no idea that ignoring my hair was a luxury given to me by my race.
There's a quote in the movie that really struck me. One of the women who keeps her hair natural/curly said this:
"The idea of keeping my hair the texture that it grows out of my head is revolutionary."
And that's true. There is so much pressure today for black women to have relaxed hair that women who choose not to are the ones considered different or revolutionary. There's pressure on all women in this way. I even do it. If I'm going to a nice event or if I want to look pretty, I straighten my hair.
But God gave me wavy hair. And he gave some folks curly hair. And others straight. Why do we do this to ourselves and to each other? It's like another form of oppression: you are not good enough the way you are, so you have to change yourself to be like someone else in order to be acceptable. It makes me mad. And sad.
And on the flip side, you know what comment I get the most about Amani? That he has great hair. What's funny is that I usually get that comment from white people. And lots of white people want to touch his hair. I've heard of this from the adoption community before. I don't know if people just have never had a chance to touch black hair and can't resist the opportunity or what, but my poor child's head has been patted by more strangers than I care to admit. I usually try to move him away as quickly as possible.
So why is crazy-curly hair not okay on grown women, but an adorable asset for a little boy?
Our culture is weird.
And by the way, in case you haven't seen this video. I love it. It brings tears to my eyes (plus, the man who wrote it wrote it for his adopted daughter... from Ethiopia!)