Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Black, Brilliant and Beautiful But Doesn't Know How to Take Care of Her Own Natural Hair: Say It Isn't So!

     Little girls generally do not know how to take care of/manage their own hair.  It's normal.  They are children after all.  Initially, they don't know how to clean themselves, dress themselves, tie their shoes, brush their teeth, use the toilet or anything. So we teach them with the expectation that they will be able to handle all of their bodily needs at some point.  Then there is that day when the little girl reaches an age when she says "mommy, I think I want to do my own hair."  For some, this can be heartbreaking because it is a sign that she is branching out on her own just like that day when she stood up from her crawl and started to walk and you knew that things were going to be a little different.  Well, imagine the little girl that never learned how to do any of those things mentioned above.  Imagine if she was absolutely stifled in every way, so much so that she would openly admit that she can't manage one of her basic bodily needs.  Now let's narrow that down to her hair.  Imagine if she said, "I don't know how to comb/style my hair.  I just don't know what to do with it.  It grows out of my scalp.  It's a part of me, but honestly, I don't know how to approach it.  I am going to have to pay someone for the rest of my life to do it for me because I just can't."  Oh really?  Is this acceptable?  Apparently yes, because it is a common statement made by many Black women as to why they can't wear their hair naturally, because they do not know how to take care of their hair, as it grows out of their scalp.

     Now, I have been around some brilliant Black women including college students, Professors, Doctors, Nurses, Lawyers, graduate students and the list goes on.  I have sat in rooms with many of these women, discussing hair, and I have seen some of them nearly break down as they sit permed/weaved and share that one of or THE reason that they choose not to wear their hair naturally is because they do not know what to do with their hair as it grows out of their scalp.  They admit this openly, sometimes with shame, but most often not.  Little do they know is that what I am thinking as they are saying this is really?  But you are in college, or you are a Professor, Doctor, Nurse, hold a job, etc. (voice rising to crescendo level) and you don't know how to take care of your own hair? Girl really?  Of course I never say this, but oh yes, it Is indeed, what I am thinking.  I am also thinking, this is NOT OK! This is an unacceptable state of dependency for Black women.  Surely, everyone can understand the need for some luxurious pampering in a hairdressers chair but the matter becomes different when you have to pay someone to do it because you can't/don't know how to do it yourself.
     This open admission that one is incapable of taking care of/managing her own hair sends the following messages, as examples, particularly if there is a young girl modeling your behavior, or just anyone around you hearing you state that you are incapable of taking care of your hair as it grows out of your scalp:

1.  I am incapable of taking care of my own hair as it grows out of my scalp so I missed a key independent skill;

2.  I must always be dependent on others to handle what I cannot, especially my hair;

3.  I must change who I am (from a hair vantage point, eg. perm/weave) because I can't manage my own hair as it grows from my scalp.

4.  Although I am brilliant in other ways (hold a job, run my own business, college student/graduate,   have a professional degree (lawyer, doctor, etc), I can't do my own hair.

5.  I have to spend money on a regular basis to get my hair done, not because I want to necessarily but because I don't know how to do it myself, so I have to.
So here is a written tutorial with some video insight as to how to take care of your natural hair :

     Wash your hair with frequency.  No, you don't need to wash it every day but it must be washed often. If anyone tells you otherwise, just look in the mirror and tell yourself the truth.  You know when your hair needs to be washed because the need to do so will be revealed to you by odor, itchiness, feel and general common sense.  Any style that enables you to go without washing your hair for long periods of time is not conducive to cleanliness.   So here is an interesting video entitled "How Often Should I Wash My Hair:"

     Once your hair is washed, twist it or braid it and let it dry.  Try to avoid the blow dryer.  The constant heat on the hair can lead to breakage, drying and other problems. Letting your hair dry naturally, without a blow dryer will come in handy as I was in the locker room one day, after working out, and many of the women were doing their hair.  I was twisting my locks and the power went out. The blow drying women lost it.  I just stood smiling and twisting as they ran around in hysteria trying to figure out what they were going to do with their hair because there was no electricity. I  didn't even need the mirror, that could not be seen in the darkness, as I twist by feel and can do the same with braids as I used to braid my hair, even in the back of my head, without a mirror.

     Also, a bit of interesting information to explore is who invented the hair dryer and blow dryer? Interestingly the French (Europeans) (who also invented the straightening comb) invented the hair dryer. See details per the links below:

The Hair Dryer

"In 1888, Alexandre-Ferdinand Godefroy, a French coiffeur inventeur— that’s hairstylist inventor — patented the hair dryer’s earliest ancestor. The contraption was to be hooked up “to any suitable form of heater,” which would send hot air through a pipe to a dome surrounding the woman’s head. "

The Blow Dryer

     So below is a simple hair washing video which does not require blow drying after.  Note that her washing technique can also be accomplished in the shower, rather than the sink.  Believe it or not, there are a number of videos on YouTube about how to wash your natural hair.  Honestly, I don't understand why in the world a video is needed but this is one of many:

If you do not know how to twist or braid your hair after washing, or at any time, it is easy to learn how to do so.    Here are a couple of videos to show you some simple techniques:

How to Braid Cornrows

How to 2 Strand Twist

How to Braid

     Hopefully, the next time the topic comes up regarding your ability to take care of your hair, you will be able to say, I am Black, brilliant and Beautiful AND I know how to take care of my own natural hair.   That will be N.I.C.E.!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Natural Hair Backsliding: Why Some Naturalistas Rethink Their Decision to Go/Be Natural

  It's been a while since I wrote a post with the hectic holiday season and all and then just getting back into the swing of things including the signing of a new book contract and hence, writing the book, which will be entitled Health Disparities and Diversity: Context, Controversies and Solutions, First Edition, to be released in 2016, by the publisher, Jones and Bartlett Learning.  But I haven't forgotten the naturalistas and the need to keep the dialogue going.  So I want to begin by discussing something that many can relate to or have perhaps observed. For the new year, people often make resolutions and for the most part, do not keep them, so I've heard.  I never make resolutions for the new year so I don't have personal experience with this. Nevertheless, I have been comparing the notion of New Year's resolutions to Black women who make big and bold moves to become natural, in terms of their hair, and then the next thing that happens is that suddenly they have reverted to a perm or a weave.

     Essentially, I am not judging because I am of the mind that one should wear their hair however they want, as I support the notion of freedom of choice.  But, this is a blog about the merits of natural hair (primarily) so on that level, it seems worthy of discussion. Personally, I have had my locks for over 20 years and I love my natural hair, so I can't imagine ever returning to a perm and I have never considered a weave, not even remotely.   The bottom line is that I don't want to experience my hair out of its natural kink because I just would not feel right. But, what I have come to understand is that it is the so-called versatility and the flexibility that folks want to experience by going from straight to kinky styles and then back again, in either direction.  For some reason, the European "flowy," straight, look makes some individuals feel better about themselves, even though they know for sure, that they are not experiencing the texture of their hair as it grows out of their scalp. They feel that to wear their hair straight, in styles that are representative of the current dominant racial group is more mainstream and hence more acceptable. Braided extensions are a different story, from my perspective, and the exception to wearing hair other than your own for the sake of fashion/beauty as such styles exhibit a long held, historical, African tradition.  A woman just successfully fought for the right to teach others to braid hair resulting in their getting a license to do so and she won her case.

     But, otherwise, perm and weave are another story altogether.  The preference for the latter makes me think of the woman from Chris Rock's film and how she described why she thinks people do not want to wear their hair "nappy/kinky."  Essentially, she said it's not sexy to wear your hair nappy.  Take a look at the video below to hear her comments and beyond:

     There is a part of me that doesn't want to believe that there are actual thoughts like what was stated in the film above about the natural hair of Black women, but indeed there are.  There are some who just don't feel that black women's natural hair is beautiful/sexy/positive.  There are some who believe that it is too hard to manage.  There are some vile thoughts about it, unfortunately, but thank goodness there are the naturalistas and I'm proud to be one of them!   In short, the definition of backsliding is usually a term used to describe a relapse.  So below you will find a young woman who experiences this backsliding situation. Perhaps this video will be of interest to you and from her thoughts about natural hair and backsliding a N.I.C.E. discussion can be held with the understanding that in any setting and in any venue natural hair is beautiful and is always cool enough!