So, a few months back, I did a post about ‘grown and sexy’ naturals: professional women over 50 with DOPE hair. One of the women I mentioned was Naomi Davis, a former attorney and founder of B.I.G. (Blacks in Green), a Chicago-based organization dedicated to raising environmental awareness and bringing green jobs into impoverished Black communities.
I asked her if she’d like to be interviewed to kick off our work styles giveaway, and she agreed. This is just the first half of the interview, I’ll post the second half next week. All of this is very thought provoking, so I would love to hear your thoughts on it!
I have never had a formal opportunity to talk about my hair philosophy and am grateful for the chance.
In fact, I had a conversation with Renee*, intern for Chicago’s Department of Environment last night, and Charice*, a local business consultant who sometimes caps her natural coif with a wig just to silence the violence, so to speak about natural hair in the office.
No amount of money or “security” could have me deny my nature.
For over 10 years I’ve been natural and not locked. It’s not easy given my grueling work schedule, and how nappy my hair is…but I’m committed. And this means committed in spite of major hair loss from neglect and stress, to be honest. Mostly I pin my hair into an Ida B. Wells updo and call it a day. Elegant and most decidedly African.
L says~Ida Bell Wells-Barnett (July 16, 1862–March 25, 1931) was an African American journalist and newspaper editor. An early leader in the civil rights movement, she documented the extent of lynching in the United States. She was also active in the women’s rights movement and the women’s suffrage movement.
A few years ago I would occasionally press my hair for a diversion. I’ve been a long ‑time fashionista — that is to say, brought up in the NYC wrag trade, Assistant Buyer at Bloomingdales, and Paris runway fantacizer. So fashion and a diversity of looks comes naturally to me, and so having a diversity of looks for me is ok. But the last time I had my hair pressed, one section of my hair would not revert and after 9 months + I cut it out and resolved that no hot comb would ever touch my hair again. Permanent conversion was not my bag.
I entertained a product called Straight Ends** which promised superior press and curl staying power without permanent chemical conversion, but I could never get their system down, and to this day have no sense of whether it really works. And no longer care.
What’s not ok is hating oneself and not knowing oneself when it causes us to fund an entire lifestyle and image that’s Euro-based. This does not include fashion, because God did not create the fashions on our backs but did create the hair on our heads. It does not even include plastic surgery, because while God did create our faces, every plastic surgery is not for the purpose of looking less Afro/moreEuro. It most definitely includes the billions we spend on Chinese hair for “African” braids, the longer the better.
And no, I don’t think every woman and girl needs to scream Africa! But let’s get at the root of self-loathing. I ain’t mad at Madame CJ, but let’s all read Belle Hooks’ book on black self-hate, Rock My Soul, and get real about how our oppression chases at the heels of our progress.
It’s everywhere. The black baby/white baby experiment results are as consistent and alarming today as they were in the 50’s.
L says~The Clarks’ doll experiments was conducted in the 1940s to test Black children’s self perception related to race. The children were given the option to play with a black doll or a white doll. Experimenters found that Black children often preferred to play with white dolls over black; that, asked to fill in a human figure with the color of their own skin, they frequently chose a lighter shade than was accurate; and that the children gave the color “white” attributes such as good and pretty, but “black” was qualified as bad and ugly. They viewed the results as evidence that the children had internalized racism caused by being discriminated against and stigmatized by segregation.
In 2006 filmmaker Kiri Davis recreated the doll study and documented it in a film entitled A Girl Like Me. Despite the many changes in some parts of society, she found the same results as did the Drs. Clark in their study of the late 1930s and early 1940s. Click here to see Kiri Davis’ experiment.
And I could go on and on. The story of working to develop my own product…the story of the endowment to build hair factories in the ‘hood…the story of BIG’s (Blacks in Green) recent workshop, “Race~Class~Environment” which reminded me of my own feelings of black inferiority. Yes, even me.
But uncovered, these boogeymen loose their leverage. It’s called Truth & Reconciliation.
*name changed to protect identity
**company name changed to protect
And a quick “dopeness in the blogosphere” alert!
Jc over at the Natural Haven has a great post on whether the coconut/lime natural relaxer is actually a relaxer. Great info! Click here to check it out.