For the black queen, there has been one thing that has bonded us to our fellow sisters throughout the years— hair. Dreads, braids, twists, Brazilian blowouts, or the good ol’ fashioned fro have been redefined as the years have gone by and a natural hair culture has emerged. For many women outside of this hair community, the topic of hair may seem trivial, simple, or perhaps even irrelevant. But for the hundreds of thousands of women who have embraced their natural God given hair, they know that the time, money, blood, sweat, and tears is far from trivial. Nor is it simple. In fact, it is extremely relevant. This blog aims to unveil the importance, history, and African origin that is rooted deep in the natural hair culture.
Natural hair is a challenge not for the weak willed woman. It is a true test of a woman’s self-esteem and ability to defy society’s standards of traditional beauty. Natural hair is an embrace of the true African experience. The roots on our natural heads bring us closer to the roots of our natural environment − Africa. It was here that we had no chemicals, perms, or the countless straightening products available on every shelf. We only had our hands and the hands of the women around us. We had our grandmothers, our mothers, our aunts, our sisters, and our friends. Inherently, we had ourselves.
Since the days of slavery, however, we have lost much of our connection to our community. More importantly, we have lost a connection to ourselves. European influence has not only shifted our hairstyles, but it has shifted our mindset as well. In Molefi Kete Asante’s article “Afrocentricity: The Theory of Social Change,” he discusses afrocentricity and our divestment from the African culture. He says that “human beings cannot divest themselves of culture; they are either participating in their own historical culture or that of some other group.” He continues and says that they can “choose to opt out of their own cultural heritage and appropriate that of some other people.” Some people have chosen to divest from African culture to embrace more European influences, while others are simply forced to adopt the new culture. It has been increasingly more difficult to maintain a cultural identity amidst the constant reminders that our African heritage has no place in the European society in which we now live. Natural hair is my way of reconnecting with my heritage. It is my way of embracing my African history.
European influence has shaped a new culture within us that has little to no African origin. For most, this cultural redefinition is now accepted. But for many, this redefinition can no longer be embraced. In fact, it is challenged. For many women, including myself, we have chosen to reconnect with black culture and wear our hair as our ancestors wore their hair. We have chosen to get in touch with our roots. We have chosen to be natural.