The Hard Truth…
about Good Hair
By: Min. J. Kojo Livingston, Contributing Columnist
Posted: Tuesday, December 22, 2009 10:51 am
When I was about seven years old I wanted to get hair like Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern of earth, my favorite comic book character of that time. I loved his powers (a ring that conjured up whatever you imagined) and his uniform. For Christmas I wanted a power ring and hair like his to complete the “cool” look. I wasn’t too disappointed when “Santa” got me a magnifying glass and a set of magnets instead, although I do admit that the first thing I did that Xmas morning was to check the mirror for the hair.
Apparently I was not that unique. For nearly one hundred years Black men have been frying, dying and laid-to-the-siding their hair to alter their appearance. For the most part, it’s just a case of follicle envy. However some claim that perms or Jheri curls open business doors for them that their own natural look could not. What does it say about a society that requires you to reject your own appearance to survive or advance? And why is that not worth opposing?
Why do we keep going along with that which denies our very essence when we know better? The answer is that the power of self-hatred goes beyond and beneath our intellects to the seat of our emotions. Overcoming this involves a great deal of mental, emotional and spiritual de-programming.
That’s why Chris Rock’s contention that, “Any hair that feels good to you is good hair,” is a copout. If it only feels good to you because you because of 500 years of mental programming or because you believe that God made you inferior in your natural state, then that is not “good”; it’s mental illness.
Some Black women have indicated that they have to wear their hair “permed” because that’s they only way they will be noticed by men. They may not be familiar with history.
Even as recently as the Civil Rights and Black Power movements you saw brothers becoming involved or at least donning the trappings of Black Pride because Black women were demanding that brothers be involved in standing up for their people.
Even with a shortage of Black men to go around Black women still have exhibited the power to influence and even change the thinking and behavior of Black men in politics, religion, business and social issues.
That’s part of what makes natural hairstyles on a woman so attractive to me personally. There is an implied strength, defiance and sense of acceptance of one’s own natural beauty. The fact that a sister has committed herself to appreciating and displaying her own good looks without resorting to that which a powerful white cultural system demands of her just floats my personal boat. Go for it, sister! You know you looking good! Good God Almighty! Lawd, have mercy!
Getting caught up, here. Talk amongst yourselves while I regain my composure. Okay, I’m good. No really. No more outburst during this column…I think.
Again we ask: Why did Chris Rock have to be censored even without making any real case for natural hair?
The answer that is more difficult to measure relates to the psyche of Black people. The issue of Black hair could lead to new thinking about the overall issue of Black self-rejection. If Black people in general were to begin to accept and love ourselves, a great number of negative behaviors could change overnight.
Such changes could impact the many industries that depend on and profit from Black self-destructive behavior such as the prison industrial complex, the liquor industry, the cigarette industry, the medical industry, the junk food industry, the illegal drug industry, and the entertainment industry to name a few. In other words, Black self-acceptance could seriously impact the entire economy of this entire nation.
It could result in a change in our spending habits and aspirations. This could lead to an entire change in our status as the footstool of this nation. Chris Rock, with his fool self, could wind up starting a Black revolution without even knowing it.
In the church world we are taught that a woman’s hair is her glory. Ignorant preachers have taken this to mean that God wants women to have long hair. Those who study for themselves will find that it was a statement of first-century cultural values and not some everlasting law from God. So there is no sin in a woman wearing a short style.
Here’s an experiment suggested by someone close to me: Black women boycott anything that is not natural for their hair and see the impact it will have on the economy of this nation. They can try it for as little as two weeks or for the next 40 days, through the end of the holiday season. Even two weeks or seven days of such an endeavor would have a dramatic effect on the finances of those who rely on our ethnic insecurities to stay rich.
There is now even a national movement called “Happily Natural” with a website, happilynaturalday.com.
It’s time for us to use every medium at our disposal to promote a love for ourselves in every way and on every level.
The alternative is to accept our own destruction.
…and that’s the Hard Truth.
This article was originally published in the December 21, 2009 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper