Relaxed Hair I Don’t Care

Some of you may not fully appreciate this but read on anyway. In the African American/black community there has been a trend occurring for several years. I’m not sure when, where or why it started and frankly Scarlette… What I do know is it has become another reason to divide my already divided people. This migration, this movement, this trend, this evolution is all about hair. This is an excellent moment to gasp or scratch your head or even touch your own hair to appreciate the texture. 

It’s not anything new. Back in the day when James Brown proudly proclaimed, “I’m black and I’m proud” hot comb sales drastically decreased. Those who were down started proudly sporting their Afros. That lasted for a while then somebody decided, after an embarrassing stage of the Jeri curl, that it was okay to have straight hair again. Some went back to the hot comb and others went to the relaxer. 

Well, several years ago, someone decided that chemicals from relaxers were not healthy and that person started a movement to natural hair. It didn’t catch on immediately. But slowly more and more people turned from the creamy crack to natural is back. I’ve watched each of my friends go through the growing out phases. I’ve endured, entertained and glazed over the conversations with each person as they shared with me the benefits of natural hair and the detriments of using chemicals on my hair. Some where more militant in their approach as others presented it as something fun we could do together. Let’s grow our hair out and bond over creams, gels, and hot oil treatments. I’ve learned to smile politely as I declined the thoughtful offer. I like my hair relaxed. 

The reaction to my soft rebuttal is usually more coercion. At times I’ve wondered if there was a commission given on the number of people they could convert. Was this a multilevel marketing effort from the makers of natural hair care products?

Speaking of products, each person has different texture of hair. Finding the conditioner, shampoo or moisturizer that works for your hair is like trying to locate the Holy Grail. I know because I have four naturally curly haired children and we still haven’t found “the one” for them. It’s can be an expensive and and sometimes lengthy process. Shout out to Madam CJ Walker for showing us a better way to care for our hair. 

May I pause for a moment and go down a rabbit trail? Thanks. In this movement to become natural I have noticed that that quite a few people are still coloring, straightening, weaving, braiding, and wigging their hair. You would think that’s a violation in the code book of natural hair. But since I’m not in the club and I didn’t receive the list dos and don’ts. Just wondering. I guess the chemicals from hair coloring are not as harsh or detrimental to the hair. I suppose damage that weaves, braids and wigs do to the edges aren’t that bad either. Shrug. Okay. 

Where was I? Choices. I made the choice to keep relaxing my hair. I like it this way. You would think in this day and age that it’s okay for people to wear their hair in which ever style or fashion they choose. What we have learned over and over again is whenever people are divided insults abound. The YouTube videos, memes, and snarky comments are abundant. It’s hair people. It’s just hair. Why do you care? Why are we distracted and divided over such a minor issue? Get a cause. Get a life. 

Am I the only one who thinks of the Good and Bad hair song from Spike Lee’s movie School Daze? Only substitute natural and relaxed hair.

I can’t believe with all the things going on in the world we continue to allow menial things distract us from the important things. 

Whether your hair is natural, relaxed, braided, wigged, colored, twisted, locked, curled, shaved or some other style embrace that as well as the hair choices of others. 

After all, it’s just hair. 

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Why I am still black

The term Afican American has been around for quite a while. I have never used it consistently to describe myself and definitely not my children. I have some friends who are staunch users of the term to describe themselves. I find it amusing to have conversations with people who say African American while I say black. I am sure they are wondering why I am not progressive and will not use the term they prefer. But I refuse. I’m sure they have wondered why I’m not conforming and why I will not follow along with their part of of the herd. 

One of the things I tell my children is do not use words or phrases if  you don’t know the definition. For me, I didn’t know the origin or the reasoning behind the change from black to African American. I prefer not to identify as either, it’s obvious when you see me why do I need a label? If you are going to label me as anything how about child of God? 

I have questions. When the term is used, which America is being referenced? Is South America included? What about Canada? Is the term solely for certain people living in the United States and if so, why?

A year ago I decided to do a little research on the Internet to determine the origins of the phrase. There are a few different versions of how the term came to be. One is attributed to a poem (I Can) written by Johnny Duncan. Jessie Jackson says he is responsible for the migration to African American. Did you know that there is or was a dividing line drawn to determine who the term references? There is the school of thought that the only people who should use the term are people whose ancestors were slaves. Hhhmmmm… Leaders in the black community wanted to differentiate between descendants of African slaves and everybody else. The term black encompasses everybody, whether you want the label or not. Granted, black is based upon your skin tone or somebody’s perception. Did you know that President Obama is not the first African American president, according to popular definitions? Just take a moment and let that soak in. His father is from Kenya and his mother, while American, is not a descendent of slaves. How nonsensical. How divisive. To my friends who were frustrated with me for not conforming, how you like me now?!? 

I refuse to accept a label that, according to some, does the very thing I don’t personally embrace. I don’t like creating division or putting people in boxes

Don’t we know by now that if there is a movement of some sort then it is going to financially / politically benefit someone? Why was there a shift? What was the long term plan? There is always an agenda. 

At the beginning and end of the day I would rather be referred to as my given name but if I must self identify I choose black.