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Thursday

Fear of a Black Habit


Before I even get started I just gotta take a sec to marvel at how dope this pic is. Dayum. May have to find this & get it framed. Anyway...

I’ve worn my hair natural for my entire life, minus the 8 months that I was trying to escape being stuck in my dorm room braiding to make it to all the livest parties in the En. Oh. New Orleans. I’ve never had a problem with having natural hair, except the year I started the 7th grade, on the upswing from re-growing my hair from the 5th grade cut my mom put on me 1 day when braiding just wasn’t what she wanted in her future. Crazy run-on, I know. Aside from that, I’ve always loved my tresses. And I still do. 3 years ago I cut my locs off that I’d had for 9 years. I was so excited to be able to palm my own scalp again with no interference.

Three years later, I have grown my hair back to play with it in hopes of achieving Thelma Evans status. You know, the episodes when she was dating Ibe & had the fresh cornrows? In the Fall & Winter the sister keeps my hair fresh to death with braids & twists, but the summer is committed to the ‘Fro. I started the school year with the Wild n Woolly in all it’s summery red glory. It did what it always does: fascinate & intimidate.

I am NOT of the opinion that everyone needs to do what I do. If you choose to be a Kinky/Curly, come on widdit. If not, that’s your personal decision. I honestly don’t have a problem with anything except weaves & wigs. I’m just not a fan of the general concept that what I’m working with isn’t enough. I’m also well aware that men aren’t into that mess so those of us who are doing it to enhance our appearance have only spent money on a major FAIL. Acceptance & conformity, though. I hear you. I’m also of the opinion that others will get on board with your program if you rock it like you mean it. I mean to be me wholeheartedly & without apology, so…love me or leave me alone. Simple.

Part of this is how I was raised. It’s largely how I was raised, actually, but it’s deeper than that now. As a teacher, I run up on Brown Girl Children who have NOT identified their own beauty & reject themselves as young as 5. Yes, 5. “Ms. T, my hair only looks like that when my mommy doesn’t do it. Why you wanna wear your hair like that?” Just cuz you said that, Baby Girl. “My grandmother would never let me come outside with my head nappy like that, Ms. T.” I know, Baby. Some people pray, others set an example. As much as I wanna cut this stuff off again, I’ve committed to showing my Brown Girl Children that black women can be beautiful exactly as they come. I use my Teacher Celebrity for good. Now I’m starting to hear, “Ms. T, I told my mom I want a fro like yours.” It’s not that I’m trying to convert the world, but to show it’s fine. & they’re getting it.

Still, the adults around me haven’t made a decision. I catch them staring up at my hair as we talk, unable to focus on my mouth. For some, it’s the ‘Fro Envy. Love ya, DML. For others is plain confusion. Why on Earth would a woman such as my self be out here with my hair all wild like that? As a prep move before getting my hair braided/twisted, I washed, greased the scalp & combed out. As always, I gave tribute to Miss Celie & plaited my hair up in my Black Girl Moment (ritual). It’s time I spend with me, paying close attention to the little things. Ritual done, & a glitch in the matrix, sister was unable to see to splittin my wig. So, I took the plaits down & wore my hair to work wavy. Folks broke their necks to compliment me on how good my hair looked. Not once but several times over the course of the debut day, but in passing each day since.

All of it simply serves as comedy for me. My hair makes a louder statement than the 1 usually assumed. At first glance, I’m 1 of those BoHo chicks who might be caught in a Triple 5 Soul jacket, carrying a satchel, & rockin’ a head wrap & a fatigue jacket which I did own. You’d be wrong. I’m far more diverse than you’d guess. My hair is not the result of a natural hair trend, or a desire to distinguish myself as a part of a particular group of Black Fo’ks. It’s a tribute to an ideal & value system given to me by my parents. It’s an intrinsic appreciation for who I am as an African in America & a refusal to be created in anyone else’s image. It is a sign of strength & resistance. It’s a labor of love & a walking billboard. It is my support & my protection against the cold & the mean. It serves to remind you that I am not to be fucked messed with, that I will give as good as I get. & if you ack right, I’ll give you better. But that’s neither here nor there.

Whether it’s ‘Fro Envy or Fear of the ‘Fro, it’s here to stay, at least for a while. No matter what though, you will always have to deal with my pride in self no matter how long or low the ‘Fro. Inseparable.

Watch me move.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the shout-out!!!! Anyhoo, my name is DML and I'm a creamy crack addict. It all began when I was 6 years old and my mother wanted to make my back length tresses more manageable. The kiddie crack was applied at a very conservative every 6 months and I looked like the little girl on the PCJ box. As I got older, the need for applications increased and I found myself riding the wave of the every 6 week cycle. I was natural for about 2 years, using straw sets, flat twists and the good ole pressing comb to keep my tresses tamed but I always went back. I'm guilty of being un-be-weaveable. My husband actually loved it, but I hated it and grew to resent that I was being appreciated for something that did not grow out of my own head (and never could because of the texture). Well, I swore off perms at the onset of this pregnancy although my hairdresser thinks it's insane and am going to try to break my addiction. I can't wait to see my baby girl in puff balls and to adorn her natural hair with ribbons and bows. I'll let her decide to perm or not to perm, but I want to show her that it's perfectly ok not too.

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