Monday, June 27, 2011


After the advent of Chris Rocks  movie “Good Hair” this poem kept the debate going in the UK.
The politics of hair affect all women around the globe. We are under constant pressure to be beautiful and to manipulate our outer appearance taking our focus away from engaging and empowering our inner world. The first place we can attack is our hair because it’s accessible and so malleable. But the world is fickle and making those changes will only put demands on us to reach a next level of perfection that will always be unattainable. Distracted again.
The trials for Black women though, is  weighted in our historical confidence in our colour,  as well as  to our physical attributes and  "failings". Our beauty is tied up in a hierarchy of concepts that start with how we value our African features at the foundation.
But how do we get to hating and obsessing about our hair so much? Let me give you a scenario. After a meal with a friend, he was picking his teeth telling me the one thing he cannot stand about black women (he dates white ones), is a busted up weave.  I conspiratorially giggled a  bit and let it slide because I didn't want to get in to the whole weave debate after such a nice meal.  A few minutes later, I started commented on my own natural hair and pointed out "See that bit there? Just there?" He replied, "What, where its all picky picky?" He said it as if I just spit in his mouth. And there it was, out in the open - his disdain for my natural hair, dred on top, short at the the sides, with neat little 'pepper corn' curls,  relegated to a cuss, to "picky picky" by a brother with the same textured hair as me.
Now, I'm not going to go on a 'he just hates himself and his mother',  I want to deal with how he was a blatant example of contributing to the decreased confidence in self image for naturall ynappy headed women of colour, because it would not matter what I had on my head HE would've found fault. Part of his brain is imprisoned into
fatally labeling his ethnicity with what is and isn't beautiful, rather than just accepting 'what is', (even as a starting point). As a woman, when you want to feel beautiful, to yourself or to a potential mate you'll do what you can, even to your own detriment.  How many times do you have to hear that your hair is "picky picky" like you killed someones mother, before you will do anything to disguise it? Even if it does looks like  street sweepers broom end close to retirement?
Listen to BBC commissioned docu-poem by Zena Edwards

Grooming takes time and copious amounts of money but before we go spend hard earned cash at the hairdressers, first, we must stop falling into that evil corrosive  trap set for us (and unfortunately maintained by us). The trap rooted in a colonial concept of divide and conquer. We must stop resorting to knee jerk reactions about good hair or bad hair when really, its not about the hair, its about perception and self-belief.  Also, before we criticize, we should check  how we choose to compartmentalize and label other people just so we can feel comfortable about where we place them in our personal world of  “Well do I look better than them? How much more inferior are they to me because my hair/legs/butt/ looks better than them?” cliches. These are things you were born with that you cannot change (unless you got nuff dough).  Get over it. There’s nothing wrong with either of you!

I get so tired of hearing the same old regurgitated weave cusses and jokes when we need to look at the esteem issues first, then you can make finite statements about the choices we make in adorning ourselves.
Fundamentally, I think Black women playing with their hair is part of our survival tool kit as much as an innate inclination to adorn. Any judgments made, is the person who doing the judging's business, not yours. Let them get on with it.
Know thy “SELF" and DO YOUR THANG!

1 comment:

Dzifa said...

Hey Z

I need to send you my poem all about hair. It's inspired by the hairstyles Samuel L Jackson wears in his films but weaves in my own history with hair and a wider history too. I've been told that it's political without being in your face. You might be interested to read it.