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Black Beauty

2 Feb

Thanks to yet another snow storm, I find myself at home with time to kill since with another foot of snow expected on top of the however many feet of snow already piled up in my yard, leaving the house is simply not an option. So it seems like a great day to break my blog hiatus and share some thoughts, after all it is Black History Month which is perfect for what I want to talk about today…black beauty.

Living in the United States which despite all the talk of being a post racial society is a hard place to be as a Black woman. Frankly it’s hard for all women, but today I speak as a Black woman because it’s my experience and I know it. From an early age little brown girls learn quickly they are not valued nearly as much as their pale counterparts. The images that little girls see are primarily that of pale girls with silky hair, girls whose natural body shapes often don’t look like theirs.

Unless caregivers are aware of the damage of what happens when you consume a steady diet of images that in no way resemble you, can do to a little girl’s psyche it’s the rare brown girl who will make it to adulthood not conflicted in some ways about her appearance. Generally for my sistern this manifests itself in how we approach our hair.

Hair is often seen as a woman’s crown and glory yet many Black women have a hard time truly grasping that concept when deep down we wonder why our hair won’t do this or that. I have been a natural haired Black woman for a decade now yet it’s only been in recent years that I had true acceptance of what my hair can and cannot do and I am at peace with it. Yet despite the growth in Black woman shunning chemical relaxers and choosing natural hair the fact remains it takes more than simply not putting the creamy crack in your hair to have real acceptance.

When most Black women first go natural they are excited and in many cases trade the addiction to relaxer for the addition to the perfect products that will cause their hair to have curl definition or waves or some other feature that will make their hair appear socially acceptable. I know when I first went natural and did the big chop I was addicted to using Care Free Curl activator gel because it made my hair look curly opposed to tight kinky curls that looked nappier. Then there was the point when my hair started growing out and then it looked like a frizzy mass and I remember being disappointed.

Perhaps it was because of my own frustrations and eventual realization that my hair is never going to lay down (unless it’s being manipulated in some fashion) which is what made this video interesting to me. Please check it out, now I admit the sista is hilarious in her presentation but what she says actually made me think. In the course of my decade long journey I have had folks make all kinds of suggestions about what to use in my hair and for the most part none of it works. I am at the point that pretty much what works best for my hair and my lifestyle as far as energy I am going to put out is, short fro, dreads or braids oh and the occasional afro puff. I am not a play in the hair person, after 30 mins my hands get tired and I have as my braider says at least 2-3 different textures of hair on my head of hair. For years I had a hard time accepting what looked good on me and really coveted the looser curls that I would see on some sisters but guess what it’s not for me.

Yet the sista in the video while it’s clear she is distressed, at the root of her rant is someone who still needs to do the mental work that is part of truly accepting her beauty. But too many of us are not surrounded by folks who give us that validation we need instead we suffer internally. Ultimately too many do not see the beauty of a Black woman’s natural crown and glory…plain and simple. It’s why we spend hundreds of dollars on products to smooth our hair because we still equate beauty with a standard that is not our standard of beauty.

This brings me to this piece. It was in my local news and what stood out was that the woman arrested was a Black woman, a rather cute one too. Now I am not passing judgment on what she does or the charges against her but in reading the comments online following the article it was clear that not too many others saw her as attractive, instead stealing her person-hood by referring to her in terms that strip her of person-hood. So I asked the Spousal Unit was she cute and he said yes. Interestingly enough I think the fact that she appears to have dreads is what really stood out to me, but overall I was reminded of how very little black beauty is valued.

Never mind the fact that she is working in a profession where her looks are required so that she can earn money. I doubt she would be dancing at a club if the tips/earnings weren’t there so clearly someone finds her attractive yet in a public venue like the paper, people feel they must judge her looks. This is life for the Black woman in America. A place where we will always struggle for acceptance yet to truly be accepted most of us must start the work internally. We also need to start with our kids especially our girls; we must present images that affirm what they see in the mirror. It helps if you are in a racially diverse area but even my house, we hang Black art, we buy books and dolls that mirror back what my girl sees in my, in pictures of family members and more importantly what she sees in the mirror.

Don’t touch me

15 Jul

It’s another hot day up here (when will they end?) and I have a long day since I will be taking part in a community forum as part of my job this evening. So I suggested to the Spousal Unit and son, that we have lunch at Pizza Hut since I am in no mood to cook, thanks to a summer cold, oppressive heat and work. So the family came to pick me up from the office and we hit the local Pizza Hut.

It was a good time despite the lousy food, when I suddenly feel someone touching my hair. I look up and see an elderly white woman muttering something about nice, beautiful and I just wanted to touch your hair. Wait! What the fuck are you doing? I start trying to avoid her gnarled hands like I was Neo in the Matrix, moving closer to my daughter in the booth and even putting my hand up saying “PLEASE DON’T TOUCH MY HAIR

It’s not the first time in my 8 years in Maine I have had a white person reach out and attempt to touch my hair, after all I did have dreadlocks for 5 years but this was the first time I have ever encountered someone who did not respect my desire to stop trying to touch me. For a millisecond I felt reduced to less than human status and even my husband who is a laid back man told the woman “Please don’t touch my wife’s hair” There was a second when I thought he was about to lay hands on Granny. Eventually she and her party mosey’d on with her no doubt wondering what the issue was, but damn it, don’t touch my hair.

Look, I realize seeing a Black woman with braids may be a novelty  but reaching out to touch one is just a bad idea and frankly the only thing that stopped Granny from getting her fingers broke was the fact that she was elderly.  I am still not sure if that was a great idea but hey, I was raised to treat folks with respect even when its questionable if they deserve it.

So to my fellow humans of the white hue, don’t ever reach out and try to touch a Black woman’s hair…it could be hazardous to your health.

Update on that Hur Situation

1 Feb

Since I have had a few folks who know me personally wondering if all is well after reading my last post on my hair. I figure I’d better post an update. Whatever had me thinking that hair straightening was a good idea has passed, I am just going to blame that line of thought on PMS and my perimenopausal state. See, I tell the Spousal Unit I get a smidge crazy during that time of the month and I am only half kidding.

No, I actually did some research and was horrified about the process. (good grief, creamy goo and high heat, shit that sounds like a recipe to have no hair left to worry about at all) That said, I am still undecided about my hair as someone pointed out it’s probably tied to the fact that hair is spiritual. Spiritually I am going through some stuff but I can’t reveal that at this time.

So for the moment I am doing nothing, I am pretty much thinking its time to get a haircut despite my wish for length since really when I only have a few inches on my head, life is easy. Or the other option, get some add a hair via kinky twists and go ahead and call it a day.

I do know whatever I do, it won’t involve large quantities of cash nor time. The last thing I need now is to add regular salon time to my already cramped schedule.

So while to some my hair woes may seem trivial, hey this is my spot and I ramble. Have a great week!

Time to talk hair

29 Jan

Yes indeed, it’s that time again. Time to talk about my hair, now if you are not a Black woman there is a good chance this post might not be your cup of tea. On the other hand it could be enlightening, so consider sticking around. Regular readers know its been a while since I have written about my hair, after all last year after years of growing dreadlocks I decided to cut them. Well the small fro I had after cutting off inches of hair has now grown out and I am at that place hair wise I hate to be. Long story short, my hair is a mess and its a length that really I find it difficult to do much of anything with.

The truth is I really am not a hair person. Let’s see, I went natural (that means no chemical straighteners have touched this head in over 10 years, and the last chemical color was about 7 years ago) and the first couple of years of being natural I rocked a short fro. It was a total wash and go and I loved it; but then we moved to Maine and I decided to grow my hair out. That lasted for 2 years and was what I look back on as the ugly period since there really wasn’t a lot I could do to my hair until it had some significant length which it did by the time I decided to loc in 2004.

Well the locs were good for a while but living in Maine with no one to help me hands on with my locs led me to free form and eventually led me to say buh bye to them as well. It was really lack of good maintenance that killed my locs, in fact looking back on my decade in naps I can say that barring the times I have rocked the TWA my hair is generally not as healthy as it can be. That may sound silly but when it comes to doing my hair those skills passed me by, perhaps it was because I was well into high school before my Mom let me actually start managing my hair. Seriously, she refused to have me going out with a raggedy head as she would call it, so she often would oversee my coif. The result being I barely can braid and when I do you damn sure ain’t going outside in it and well my attempts at twisting, etc…um, it sux. I suspect if I had someone up here who could sit down and show me it might come together but honestly even looking at you tube videos doesn’t seem to help.

So you are probably asking um…where are you going with this? Well until yesterday I figured I’d keep living with my hair situation but I went to my local Aveda salon for my eyebrow waxing and we ended up talking about my hair. Long story short they explained they have a process of thermal straightening that could loosen my curls to make my hair more manageable.

I’m going to be honest, at first I was like hell to the naw, I am happy to be nappy, no chemicals here…all the things that good nappy hair disciples do. Some of ya’ll might be asking what am I talking about but I know some of ya’ll know exactly what I am talking about. Going natural as a Black woman is liberating, it really is, at least in the early days you feel like you have a new lease on life. You feel like you have instant camaraderie with other natural sistas, you feel amazing, freed…oh its a beautiful thing. 

Well 10 years into this journey, what I am about to say is blasphemy to nappy heads but really its just hair. Yes chemicals are bad, and by all means you should avoid them if at all possible. But sometimes being natural ain’t all it’s cracked up to be either. See, the reason I went natural initially was because I knew I was moving to Maine and figured there would be no one to do my hair. That is really what prompted me to give up the creamy crack, my relaxed hair was always healthy, no breakage, no issues.  I admit I did not like feeling in bondage to the hair salon for that weekly maintenance but lets keep it real, too many naturals are always looking for that elusive product to “manage” their curls. Ya know you know what I am talking about.  They trade one addiction for another, I have seen it too many times. In the past decade I have seen many sistas embrace being natural at least on the surface but deep down they are grappling with how beautiful they will be perceived as, if they rock a TWA, locs, etc. I know, I was there and man I fought those demons, days when I just knew I looked ugly. But guess what? I didn’t care, for me being natural at least in the early days allowed me to see true beauty in myself but at this stage in the game, I will be honest. I just want hair that is manageable. I am not a fan of super short hair…can I tell you on cold days I miss my locs.

I would consider going back to locks but I truly believe they have a spiritual component and I am not there yet. I found what I needed with that first set, peace and acceptance in so many areas of my life but I am not ready to return. I keep saying just let my fro grow but then I keep coming back to grow into what? Last time I let it grow eventually that path led to dreads.

So I will be honest, I have no idea what direction I am about to take on the hair path, could involve chemicals, could be braids, might just say fuck it and crop it again. Yet no matter what I  do, I am more than just my hair and while my journey to me may have started with my hair it does not end with my hair.

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t even decided whether I am going to have my hair treated, last night I was pumped up about this. This morning the $300 price tag has me thinking a trip to the sista who trimmed my fro is in order so I can explore more reasonable options that might keep me natural but I will be honest no longer am I am militant natural.

I have enjoyed the journey but I am not defined by my hair…hell I define me.

Lady with the short hair

9 Jun

After years of having long hair, you would think I would feel out of sorts having short hair but the truth is I love it. I am at a stage in my life when I want to simplify and as much as I loved my dreads, the truth is they were carrying a lot of energy that frankly was weighing me down. There was also the fact that the longer they got,the more that taking care of them felt like an ordeal.

So all that to say I am enjoying being able to wash and go, I did not wash my locs on a daily basis (Black hair in many cases is not washed daily…want more info, feel free to Google it) but I enjoy being able to wash daily. I love the feel of freshly washed hair, I love the fact that I am not longer in need of a scarf, headwrap or ponytail holder before I can leave the house.

I am also at peace with my decision, I know now that it was the right time. I am not the person I was years ago and a change was needed. That said, its been a gas seeing folks reactions to my hair. Lets see the first day I went out before I got a trim, I got a lot of stunned looks. The younger the person was, the higher the “That’s cool” seemed to be, older more traditional folks looked at me like had I taken leave of my senses.

I have gotten some probing, why did you do that? Gee, why does anyone do such a thing…because I wanted to! At 36 I am a grown ass woman and if I want to cut my hair….I just do it. I even got a half cocked “so you took your braids out” yeah, I ignored that numbnut especially since this is a woman who always talks about how she went to high school in New York and was the only white girl at her school. I suspect she does this to bond with me, but really I don’t care. Anyway assuming a Black woman with long hair must have extensions or braids speaks of one who makes assumptions (H, I know you are reading this and no I am not talking about you) about Black beauty. Old stereotypes that assume Black women don’t have long hair unless it was bought someplace…but that’s another post for another time.

The thing is 10 years ago when I first had hair this short I was still in denial that I could look good with short hair thus I always felt awkward about short hair. Now I love it. In fact its liberating at least for me, so while there are many who may think and wonder why I cut my hair, the answer is simply because I wanted to.

Switching gears for a second, as the summer gets off, my schedule will be busy so I am seeking guest posts on how folks are coping with the economic downturn. Specifically if you used to be solidly middle class and now find yourself not so solidly in the middle class, please consider doing a post. It will a weekly post entitled Dispatches from the Formerly Middle Class. My email is on the sidebar, so drop me a line.

Its gone

30 May

I swear I won’t have too many more posts about my hair…drum-roll please…. I cut it off last night! Yep, I had planned to wait until I got paid and had some extra cash so I could go to get it colored right away but last night I just couldn’t take it anymore. So I said screw it, got the Spousal Unit’s shears and just took my locs off.

So how do I feel? A lot better than I expected to be honest, yes I need to get my hair shaped up but at the moment I have no regrets. As a few friends commented, I still have a fair chuck of hair left on my head. (I really did have a fro underneath my locs) since as the Spousal Unit noted I don’t even have a TWA at this point. (TWA= tiny weeny afro)

As I cut each one off, I felt a certain sense of lightness and actually woke up without the customary headache, damn, my locs were heavy. So where do I go from here? For the next few days I will just rock it in its crazy state and then go see who can shape me up. We do actually have a Black barber locally who cuts elder boy’s hair when he is home so I do have a place to go, though there is a Black female stylist around who while I may not have entrusted my locs to her will do for cleaning me up.

I suppose at a later date, I will write about the spiritual side of letting go of my locks though at the moment, lighter really is the best word to describe how I am feeling.  I had no idea just how weighed down I had been feeling but right now its clear that I was weighed down.

Anyway have a happy weekend!

Leaning towards….

28 May

Recently I wrote about my hair woes, and actually got a lot of feedback. To recap, I have dreadlocks aka locs. I have been growing my much beloved locs for 5 years now, but we have reached the point where my babies are looking a tad unkempt. In good financial times, I would head to Brooklyn to visit a woman I am told could definitely get my hair back in order since living in Maine, I lack access to folks who know what to do with natural unprocessed hair.

As I admitted in my other posts about my hair, my locs are not just hair. They were started as direct result of my Mom’s untimely death 5 years ago, its something I had thought about for years but her death and the realization that life is short prompted me to just do it. (sorry Nike, I just had to use your slogan)

I admit over the years the journey that I have been on emotionally and spiritually has been reflected in my my locs and my relationship to them. I love em but recently after the posts I did, I have started to feel as if I could sense my Mom’s presence (I swear I am not going crazy) and each time its happened, I could almost hear her voice telling me its time to get rid of them. Now my Mom was always open to my natural hair but she was also a pretty snazzy dresser and quite into couture, she always looked amazing. No, the simple truth is if she were here she would say get rid of em and at least start all over again because right now, I simply look raggedy about the head.

The first time I had that realization about a week ago, I shook it off but its continued to haunt me. Yet I must admit like many women I have fell into the length trap, my hair is quite long and for all the bitching I do about my hair its been a nice ride as a long haired woman. In some ways I get amused because I often get the question even living in Maine “Is that really all my hair?” Sometimes I get amused and sometimes I get pissed since at times I wonder is it because there is the perception that Black women don’t have long hair. So on some level I know that fuels my desire to keep the length despite the fact my hair is not as healthy as it could be.

However as someone who has always embraced change when its put in my face, yesterday I had an ephiphany about how freeing it would be to just cut my hair off and for once fear was not in my heart as I thought about it. I was talking to an acquaintance of mine, a white man who is a stylist and colorist for Aveda who told me flat out that he thought I would look a lot better with a short do that he would be happy to color for me. Can I say thoughts of shades of red are dancing in my head. Along with thoughts of how nice 3-4 inches would feel on my head…can we say the ultimate in wash and go.

I tried this weekend to retwist the new growth that had caused me to have a afro in the midst of my locs and let me just say…um NO. It did not come out well and my arms were killing me when I was done.

Letting go sometimes is hard but I am starting to embrace the idea that change is in the air and that this may be the change I need to make. The past 5 years have been the hardest I have ever gone through and lately I feel weighed down by so much in my life, even my hair. I need to be lighter in my journey. Don’t get me wrong I love dreads but wonder if I should restart this journey at a different stage in my life, not one born out of pain and grief.

So guess you can say I am leaning towards making the big chop though I have decided to sit on this for 30 days just to be sure. After all if I cut it off too soon its not as if I can just stick it back on my head.

The spirituality of my hair

14 May

There is nothing like a post on Black women and hair to get some attention in the blogosphere. Of course Black women and our hair have a rather deep and unique relationship. Thanks to all those who posted on my last post, as I lamented over what to do about my beloved locks, I must admit I am still unsure but due to a reaction I had a few hours after writing that post, I know I need to think about it.

See, when I first cut my hair and went natural, I was a hair evangelist, much like a newly born again Christian who feels the need to share the goods news of Jesus Christ. I spent the first several years of being a proudly nappy haired Black woman telling other Black women who had not gotten on board with their naps that they must find and embrace naps. Looking back I shudder now to think about how obnoxious I may have been, but again I wanted to share the good news.

It wasn’t until I started my dreads that I stopped being such a zealot about natural hair on Black women. I will be honest and say that I generally think most Black women look much better with their hair worn naturally but I am also at a point where I can admit when a sista has a banging relaxed style. However most sistas I see in real life with relaxed hair generally look ho-hum at best. Of course the key to hair in general is maintaining it well no matter if you have chemically processed hair or not.

No, see my dreads were not a fashion statement. I had wanted dreads ever since I was 17, going so far at 18-19 as to stop combing my hair thinking that they would lock…it didn’t happen, instead I looked a hot mess. So back I went to the relaxer and later wearing my hair short and natural.

It was the death of my beloved mother that made me take the plunge, her death changed me at the deepest core. I am not the person I was prior to her death, in many ways and the Spousal Unit agrees, I am a nicer person. I strive to be deeper and more compassionate. My mother used to tease me that I was a bitch and the truth is I was very much a bitch and I knew that I needed to change. Her death was the catalyst for me growing up and getting in touch with my inner woman who is compassionate and caring, though lately I wonder if I have gone too far with this niceness bit but that’s for another day.

So how does hair fit into this? Well the process and journey of locking requires patience I have learned. In the early days I had a lot of ugly hair days, a lot of days that felt unsure and I will be damned if there was not a connection between the state of my hair and the state of my mind. As my locks started out as unsure babies much like the new me after my mother’s death, eventually they started toddling…sort of like a toddler does and so on.

Somewhere about 2 years ago, my locks reached a state where they started to look good and again looking at my internal state, that is around the time I started to feel steady and stable emotionally in being the new me. Even now the state of uncertainty that I have around my dreads is similar to what I am facing personally…regular readers know that in recent months I have blogged about my financial woes and even my marital issues. As I told the Spousal Unit the other night, the state of my hair seem to be bound to the state of my mind.

I wrote in the comment section of my last post that I feel like cutting off my locks would feel like I am cutting off my antenna, I know that sounds dramatic as hell but honestly that is how I feel. I neither want or need my locks to be perfectly groomed, but much like my financial life is feeling out of control is how I feel my hair looks and feels at the moment.

So while I am still unsure about what I will eventually do, I know that I need to be still and wait to be led as there may be lessons still to be learned on this journey.

Hair in crisis

12 May

I have often thought about writing about hair but until today never quite gotten around to it. Now when I first started blogging the majority of my readers were Black because I spent a lot of time in the Black section of the blogosphere but lately I have noticed that many of my readers judging from those who leave comments may not be Black. If that is the case, you may be wondering why the hell am I about to write an entire post about hair. Shit, for black women and our hair I could write an entire book.

Black woman and their hair is not only a serious business but we Black women take out hair pretty seriously. However I am not about to go into a historical piece about hair, nope its just dealing with my hair. See, for the past decade aside from one dye job 6 years ago, I have worn my hair in its natural state. In the late 1990’s, I knew that there was a really good chance that I would be moving to Maine so I started thinking about my hair and how I would manage it. Yep, tis the life of a Black woman…a cross country move to the whitest state immediately makes you wonder about seemingly small things like how the hell will you manage your hair?

See, at that point I went weekly to the salon to get my hair done. On a weekly basis that meant wash, dry and curl and every six weeks I had my relaxer (hair straightener applied) at that point in time I was spending about $200 plus a month to maintain my silky do. My hair looked great but there was also the fact that I really was not skilled at maintaining my own hair.

So I started looking into going natural, that is wearing my hair without any type of chemicals. So I made a slow transition by wearing braids, weaves and eventually just cutting off all my hair in a rather dramatic fashion. I’ll never forget the day I went in for the “Big Chop” at that point I was going to the Van Cleef Salon in Chicago, which as a side note is the same salon the current First Lady Michelle Obama went to for years. As you can imagine, most of the woman at such a salon were not trying to get rid of their silky tress’s and go nappy. In fact the owner of the salon actually came over and watched as my stylist took off all my hair…shit, everyone in the salon stopped what they were doing to watch. For a moment the mood in the salon was almost that of a funeral. To many Black woman cutting off all your hair is viewed with horror and a bit of fascination.

Yet after I watched my hair fall to the ground leaving me with a cool 2 inches at best, I felt a huge relief, it was almost a religious experinece, I felt reborn. That was until I got home and the Spousal Unit came home from work and looked at my head. To his credit he didn’t say much, but the truth is when he went to work that morning he had a wife with a frizzy bob and now my head matched my Dad’s as far as hair length.

The real fun started when I went to visit my parents, my Mom loved it and thought it was cute though she did suggest maybe I should color it which I eventually did, no it was my Dad who lost his mind. I won’t go into the details but for 2 weeks he stopped talking to me, He could not understand why I would cut off all my hair. Eventually he came around and while he is still not a fan of my hair in its natural state at least he keeps his comments to himself.

For almost 5 years I wore my hair fairly short but eventually felt the urge to have dreadlocks something I have always wanted, so after my Mom’s death 5 years ago I started my dreads aka locks. Or rather I had them started at a place in Boston. For the first 6 months I went to Boston every 4-6 weeks to get my locks groomed. However when I got pregnant with girl child I decided the hell with it and went real natural, meaning I started to free-form my locks. In practical terms, it means all I do is wash, condition and separate my locks though many have started to fuse together over the years.

After 5 years I have dreadlocks that are to the middle of my back but because I have not had the new growth re-twisted or groomed, I have a bit of a Afro growing in the midst of my locks. Generally I handle it by keeping my head covered or wearing my hair in a pony tail so the fro portion is less obvious.

Anyway I have reached the point where I am in a bit of a hair crisis, there are days when I want to cut it all off or worse yet relax again. I think part of the hair crisis is because living in Maine, there are very few places a Black woman can go to get her coif done and even less choices for a dread-lock wearing sista.

I could go back to the shop in Boston but I never really cared much for the joint. The folks that run the joint had funky attitudes and their location in Bean-town is less than convenient. It takes me 3.5 hours each way to get to their spot, plus several hours there for a job that is only okay, granted they can do better than me but considering I am paying them, I want an amazing job. This particular place is like the McDonald’s of the dread-lock world in Boston.

So now I sit here with dreams of silky precision cut bobs dancing in my head though I know if I actually went that direction, I would most likely wake up questioning my sanity. To go back to relaxing would mean bondage to the salon at a time when my money is already tight. 

A friend of mine who lives in Brooklyn, has suggested I head down to her area and see her loctitian but money has simply been too tight and now my time is about to get tight with my work schedule. So while I love that idea, its probably not going to happen unless those folks I met with last week about a side project hurry up and sign the contract.

Nope, I have a hair dilemma, I am in crisis and I just don’t know what to do. I imagine to some reading this you may be wondering is this really a big deal? Oh yes, a Black woman with a hair crisis is a huge deal. I mean I have a fucking dread-fro and its just not cute.  Oh well no answers today but thank goodness for scarves and the lovely black and gold one I am wearing today to cover up the dread-fro.

The misunderstood nap

8 Sep

This morning while doing my usual tour through the blogosphere, I stopped at blog that had a You Tube clip of Paul Mooney talking to a young woman about a wide array of issues. At the beginning of the piece Mooney makes mention to the young Black woman interviewing him that he knew she had a gig because she was employed and her hair was relaxed. (sorry, gotta grab mini-me from daycare so I am rushing and paraphrasing) It was a cute Mooney moment but for some reason its been on my mind all day.

Now I have been an unrelaxed aka no chemicals in the hair sista going on 9 years now, for the past 4.5 years I have been growing locs (dreadlocks) and for 3.5 of those years I have been free-forming (just wash, separate, oil and go, no other manipulation). My initial decision to stop relaxing was partially because I knew I might move to Maine and figured there would be few places to get my coif done on a regular basis; I was also tired of being a slave to the hair shop. See back in the day, I had a standing Friday afternoon date with my old beautician, every week for a wash/dry and curl and every 6 weeks for a touch-up. My hair care was written into the budget like the light bill and back then I was paying with tip damn near $50 a week to keep my hair bouncing and behaving. I pretty much just got tired and wanted to be free.

Now it took some time for me to make the leap, I did the weave thing for a while, tried braids but one day just got tired of it all and went to the shop and told ole girl to cut it all off, so I walked out with at best 2 inches on my head. When I got home, I could tell that the spousal unit was trying not to cry and when my Pops saw me he was so disgusted at my bald head he stopped talking to me for 2 weeks. Thankfully my Mom loved it so much that a couple of months later she too went natural though she later went back to relaxing because she got tired of my Pops bitching.

I learned early on that fear of the naps is real as hell and was reminded of that when Paul Mooney in his piece spoke of white folks fearing naps, yet I would add that I think more than white folks fearing nappy hair, Black folks are even more afraid of naps.

So today I found myself thinking back on my hair journey, early on in my nappy state, I became a militant nappy.. you know the type. The sista that judges everyone who is relaxed, thankfully that stage has long past and these days I got no issues with relaxed sistas, other than if you are going to be relaxed, take care of your hair. Now I admit when I see relaxed sistas with missing edges who want to look at me with a greasy look, I do get pissed. I also admit I don’t understand if you are going to be relaxed and only rock that one sad ponytail with the dirty pony tail holder, frankly that’s a tad gross. On the other hand if your hair is healthy and your style is fierce, you get a big smile from me.

However the loc journey has been a fascinating one since initially I had no idea where it would go, it was a month after my Mom died and I was having a JOB moment and just needed to do something, honestly I always thought I would have groomed locs since deep down I think I was scared of naps- what would folks think if I walked around with a heavy of openly nappy hair? Yet as the process went on and I got stronger, I started to care a lot less what anyone thought about my head. Shit, when you are a cocoa-complexioned sista, it ain’t like anyone is ever going to confuse me for being white. Back when I had straight hair, I would occasionally get mistaken for being Puerto Rican or Dominican and when I was young and still silly enough to not realize that there are folks from the African diaspora in both places, I used to think it was nice since maybe it meant I was less Black. (yeah, I know like I said silly thinking).

No, I no longer fear the naps but I do notice that folks both Black and white seem to think that a nappy haired especially a dread-locked wearing Black woman is a tad militant, and while I have militant moments truth is I am not militant. I sometimes encounter young Black women who express a desire to go nappy but are worried about how their naps will be perceived in the work world, to that I say yes you might put off some folks but truthfully someone who cares about what’s on your head rather than what’s in it is probably not someone you want to work for.

Nappy hair is misunderstood by most but for me I embrace it. Gotta run..