Black women have been brain washed to think our hair is problematic. Often choosing to embrace the Eurocentric beauty standard of bone straight hair or hair that is "relaxed". The term "relaxed" means not tense or free from tension. My question has always been, what tension...?
The tension that the term "relaxed hair" is referring to is the tension that White woman often felt in the early 1700's and 1800's throughout Southern America. During this time White, Spanish and Creole men often chose woman of color, over white woman who worked as mistresses or prostitutes, to have as mistresses and in some cases, end up leaving their white wives for them. Keep in mind that it was a normal practice for men of stature to have an openly kept mistress regardless of her race. These men found our beauty alluring and often exotic. This would cause white woman to be jealous, especially because of the attention woman of color would get from their hair.
Due to this, in 1786 under the administration of Governor Esteban Rodriquez Miro, The Tignon Law was introduced. The Tignon Law (pronounced Ti-yon) was a law that enforced woman of color to cover their hair with a Tignon also known as a head wrap. These laws where established to prevent Black woman from getting attention from White, Spanish and Creole men, but to also to curb White women's jealousy. This Law only empowered us to wear beautifully decorated head dressed scarves with accessories and stylish patterns. Therefore making us more beautiful and even more exotic. It became a fashion statement. Black woman effectively reinterpreted the law without technically breaking the law. We continued to be pursued by White, Spanish and Creole men. Over time this law was never abolished, but Black woman began to "relax" their hair in order for them to be deemed as appropriate or accepted in society.
Don't get me wrong! I'm all for switching it up with a sleek straight wig and getting my Beyoncé vibes on, however, I say that to say this, OUR HAIR IS OUR CROWN!
This is why i feel the Natural Hair Movement is so important. Black woman have been conditioned to think that our hair is the problem when in reality, that notion was introduced to cover up the insecurities of our White female counterparts. This whole conditioned way of thinking has become normalized. This is exactly why every time a Black woman wears her hair out, whether it be in braids, an Afro, an up do etc. a non-black person wants to touch our hair. Regardless of their intention, this is the same empowerment they tried to strip from US. Whether you wear your hair in protective styles or blow outs, I feel it is extremely important for us to continue to normalize Black hair in its natural state, ESPECIALLY in professional environments. Our hair is a signature of our deep rooted history.
Black hair IS versatile. I want to normalize that FACT. In my experiences, specifically at work, my non-black coworkers make it a point to mention something about my hair on a daily basis. I purposefully come to work with my natural hair (Monday-Friday) worn in different styles such as; wash n' go's, high buns, low buns, high puff, low puff, twist-outs, silky straight etc. Of course they comment things like "Wow did you get your hair "done”? Or my favorite “You "changed" your hair again! How do you find the time?" My response? ... "No, I Just simply brushed it back into a bun Karen like you did with your hair this morning ....you know like normal."
I want not only White people, but especially MY people to understand that Black hair is normal and it is not an accessory. IT IS OUR CROWN! Wear it proudly!
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