Friday, April 3, 2015

Little Naturalistas and their Mommies: Including Beyonce and Blue, My Sister, My Nieces, My Daughter and Me!

     Recently, I gave a talk for the Yellow Rose Society, a campus, community service organization, comprised of Black women, at the University of Miami.  I mentioned this talk in my previous post (http://naturaliscoolenough.blogspot.com/2015/03/a-nice-shout-out-to-beauty-of-black.html).

      Of course, natural hair was one of the areas of dialogue and I used an article that I found written by the renowned Scholar, Social Activist and Author, Bell Hooks, to inform my presentation. See this compelling piece here entitled "Straightening Our Hair:"

     So interesting was our dialogue, following the talk, that I thought of members of my own family and how this generation is going about caring for the hair of their children. One of my sisters, who is younger than me by many years, has two adorable children, a boy and a girl. Recently, they, along with my sister, visited me, and were treated by my immediately family, to a trip to Disney World.  It was a wonderful time! The night before we left for our road trip to Disney, I put a henna in my sisters hair, washed it and twisted her locks and then washed and cornrowed my little niece's hair.

Me and My Sister and Her Little Naturalista


      How wonderful that was.  As described by Bell Hooks in her paper mentioned above: "These feelings remind me of the pleasure and comfort I felt as a child sitting between my mother's legs feeling the warmth of her body and being as she combed and braided my hair."  She points out further that "In a culture of domination, one that is essentially anti-intimacy, we must struggle daily to remain in touch with ourselves, our bodies and one another."  I am so proud of my sister for serving as an example to her daughter by keeping her hair in its natural state, her choice being beautiful locks to do so. She has no intention of straightening her daughter's hair or to use a dreadful kiddie perm. From time to time, she said she blow drys her daughter's hair to help with manageability but we discussed ways of getting around that by keeping her daughter's hair moisturized, naturally, and braided, or free flowing with easy, manageable styles, without the need for blow drying and the resulting damaging effects. I praise her for sending her beautiful little daughter, a cute little naturalista, and her handsome young son, the message that Black women's hair is acceptable in its natural state as mother's are indeed role models for their daughters in practically every way.

     On another note, I recently saw pictures of Beyonce with her husband and daughter and just with her daughter and I wonder if she understands how much her predominant hairstyle choices, for the most part (although she does wear braids from time to time), as stated in Bell Hooks article "appear white or ... embody aspects of white style"by dying her hair blonde and wearing weave.  Nevertheless, she has endeavored to keep and maintain her daughter's hair, another lovely little naturalista, in a kinky style, which is absolutely wonderful, so she deserves praise for that.

Beyonce and Her Little Naturalista!

     I also have a niece who recently had a child who is now a walking, busy, beautiful toddler.  My niece has chosen also, to keep her little daughter's hair naturally free, which is wonderful because my niece always looks radiant when her beautiful hair is in its natural curly state. Seeing her little baby's curls, wild and unfettered and naturally free, is absolutely wonderful.  Another lovely little naturalista...

 My Niece and her little Naturalista!

     Sometimes, mothers allow their little girls to be what they are not ready to be themselves...naturally free with no perming or pressing or weaving and other measures with professed justification for wearing straight hair.  Bell Hooks points out in her piece that: 

"It hurts to realize connection between racist oppression and the arguments that we use to convince ourselves and others that we are not beautiful or acceptable as we are."  

     I am definitely not judging mothers who struggle with this because when my  daughter was a little girl, I always kept her gorgeous hair natural, even though I was in turmoil about my own hair, hating every moment of it being permed, but not fully ready to make that change, until the day I cut off all of my hair and never looked back and have been natural ever since.  I had that strength and courage while my daughter was young and hence, for most of her life, she saw me with natural hair.

Me and My Little Naturalista (Now an Adult Naturalista)!

     I will close with one more comment from Bell Hook's paper, which, by the way, was published in1989 in her book entitled Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Back, and is as relevant today as it was then:

     "There are times when I think of straightening my hair just to change my style, just for fun.  
Then I remind myself that even though such a gesture could be simply playful on my part, and individual expression of desire, I know that such a desire would carry other implications beyond my control. The reality is: straightened hair is linked historically and currently to a system of racial domination that impresses upon Black people, and especially Black women that we are not acceptable as we are, that we are not beautiful. To make such a gesture as an expression of individual freedom and choice would make me complicit with a politic of domination that hurts us." 

    In essence, I believe that Hooks is right.  At all times, no matter where we are, including our work spaces and as mothers, wives, daughters and beyond, Natural Is Cool Enough:  That's Nice!

1 comment:

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