Unbeweavable

I don’t find most black women attractive. No, I’m not some brainwashed , self-hating black woman hater like what you see on YouTube ranting about black women choosing “thugs”. Nor am I particularly colourstruck – I’m sure there’s some woman out there for me. My problem, well one of my problems is this. No, not the surgically attached battyjaws. Nothing wrong with that. The dead animal hanging off of the top of her head is another matter completely. And yes, if you’ve gone and put chemicals in your head to straighten your hair, we still have problems.

No Straight Answer on Hair Straightening

The practice by black women of altering their has to make it look , ahem, more presentable, has always been something that bothered me , as well as the young men in my peer group. I remember growing out my afro while sitting for my A-Level exams. Me and my friends would ask the young ladies in our peer group why they did not grow their natural hair. We would get laugh at, dismissed, deflected, but never a straight answer. When I do get answers, they generally fall into the areas of function, or form.

The functional answer is usually based upon on how easy it is to maintain false hair , and more styles being available for straight hair. This obvious cop-out can be shown for what it is when you realize that there is now an entire sub-industry for black women with natural hair.

The same goes with the notion with regards to form. A black women with Caucasian hair is like a car with bicycle wheels for tires – they just don’t go together. The pink skin on a white woman’s face is usually quite well complimented by her long straight hair, as the colour of her skin does not reflect light and shadow the way the chocolate toned hue of a black woman does. Anyone who has had the pleasure of staring at a black woman’s face will understand what I mean. The way that shadow contours itself so smoothly against the hue of her cheeks, the softness of her eyelids as the light curves around her brow, is something that is unique to black women, and is not complimented by having tufts of straight hair hanging down the side of her face. The straight, striated, hair that grows naturally on white women perfectly compliments their angular cheeks, eyes, and noses. Black women, however, have hair that grows upwards, or, in the case of dreadlocks, in identifiably separate strands, that allow that perfectly compliment their rounded features.

Straight , stringy hair for angular features….
and an updo to show off facial features.

Of course, you cannot say this face to face to a black woman. That is a no-no in most black communities, where you will either be laughed at, or called a “natural hair Nazi.”

There is no such thing as “Natural” Hair

The term natural hair Nazi has come to describe a person whose vigilance in espousing the benefits of wearing Afro textured hair is so intense that it comes across as proselytizing, condescending, patronizing, annoying, and rude. I don’t know about the patronizing behaviour, but the idea of a “natural hair Nazi” is ridiculous to me. Not the Nazi part, Godwin’s Law notwithstanding, but the “natural hair” part.

If you go to a white woman, and ask her if she wears her in its natural state, she is going to look at you funny. Ask a woman of East Indian descent she wears her hair “natural”, she looks at you funny. Same thing with an Asian. Same thing with a Native American. The idea of natural hair is a misnomer to them because hair either hair, or extended hair, or processed hair.The idea of “natural hair”, to them, would be something like “wet rain” or “hot fire” or “dishonest PNP politician” – it is so redundant as to be unthinkable.

So if white women don’t have “natural” hair

Asian women don’t have “natural” hair

And all other women don’t have “natural” hair,

Why do black women have “natural” hair?

But within the Black Jamaican community “natural hair” has come to represent the (small) subset of women that do not chemically alter their hair, or use weaves. That an entire subculture has had to created for women who keep their hair in its natural state, should be seen in the same light as black people who choose to keep their skin in its natural complexion – a choice so natural as to be non controversial. Just as black men escaped the spell of the relaxer and its direct descendant, the jheri curl, so too must black women.

Ironically, it is the adjective “natural” that makes anyone who wishes to espouse black women using their own hair so difficult. This is because using the word “natural” to encourage black women to wear their actual hair makes any argument seem like a naive’ appeal to nature.

The perception of natural hair is even worse in the United States, where it is seen as merely a social signifier. At best, it is a signifier of Black consciousness or upward mobility. At worst, it signifies that the person is exclusively interested in romance with other races, a hippie, a neo-soul fan or, worst of all, a vegetarian.

The best way to fix this would be to create new categories – hair, processed hair, and artificial hair.

Weaves are hyperfeminine

Take a look at the below picture.

now, compare it to this one:

The woman up top has a traditionally male haircut, a Caesar style (all-in-one). Would you consider her to look more feminine, or less feminine than the ones in the below picture?If you are a normal, properly functioning, mentally stable, sexually healthy, heterosexual male, you would definitely say no. The women at the bottom don’t look like women, they look like exaggerated versions of women. In other words, they are women that look like men that look like women. By taking on an exaggerated femininity, they look exactly like another group of people that are an exaggerated parody of femininity – drag queens.

Worse still, are the other effects of processing and weaving – the smell. If you have ever had to endure the chemical smell of the lye mix (or any other alkali that they put in their head) you will know what I am talking about. The weaves are even worse than that. If you ever had the displeasure of waking up beside one, you will know that it is an experience akin to the way the hot air flies out of a hot oven and just hits you. Just replace hot air with the stench of formaldehyde and raw sweat.

Yet these women wish to consider themselves as being some sort of royalty or Barbie. I find it hard to see how they can arrive at this. When we were in West Africa, black women would wrap their hair in cloth (sometimes rafia cloth), and decorate it with flowers. The hair would be styled upwards, as the head was usually the part of the body closest to the sky, and thus closest to God.

Royalty

The effect was to make the hair look like an exquisite bouquet. Nowadays, black women buy hair cultivated from wildebeests, dead Russians, Chinese heroin junkies armpits and pubic areas, Indian temple goers and sofa cushions.Let me tell you, its hard to be black royalty when your crown is a Chinese junkie’s coochie hair.

Not royalty

They don’t call it a “yaki” for nothing.

Could it be that we all can just choose our blackness? That all our black is beautiful? The simple answer is no. If we can just choose our blackness, then we may just as well include the wiggers as black people. Saying that all black is beautiful while including features that are explicitly non-black ignores that blackness is not some belief system like Judaism, but has a specifically physically component that is inherently part of the black experience. Remember, there would be extreme consequences for any black who was  caught with an afro pick, or any other implement that was related to their indigenous culture.

But am I being too harsh? After all, white women get weaves too1 And you don’t see their men complaining about them weaving? That argument is like when white people say that they shouldn’t be held accountable for slavery, because “Arabs sold slaves too!” That type of derailment fails specifically because

  • White women are extending their hair – not replacing it with dreadlocks. In fact black people’s hair gets thrown into the garbage or burnt, instead of being resold back to us by Koreans
  • The fact that it has to be pointed out that white women wear weaves means that it is unnoticeable, and is thus intended for their head.
  • If the black women’s defense for wearing weaves is “black women wear weaves too!” then does it mean that they are trying to be white?

But the above delusional arguments did not just spring up out of nowhere. Black women rejecting their hair, to me, means a reject of blackness. Their rejection of blackness is a response to a metaphysical question that was asked by black people at the start of the 20th century -“Who am I?” and “What am I?” That question was answered in the middle in the of century by movements such as Rastafari and Black Power. But the way that they answered that question forced black women to make choice between being black, being a woman, or being a black woman. Those choices

Who killed natural hair?

That black women have, for the most part, disengaged themselves from issues of race is lamentable, but it was inevitable. You believe that black women still think of themselves as being a part of a community that is called Black People? Then go outside, and take a walk. Count how many Rastamen you see. Repeat that walk. Count how many Rastawomen you see. Maybe you live in another country, so repeat this exercise with Five-Percent Nation or Nation of Islam instead. I’m looking at something like a 6.2 to 1 ratio in favour (or rather, displeasure) of the men.

The reason why I chose those particular organizations is because in their respective societies, they represent the political vanguard of what is considered “Blackness” in each of their countries. Each of them eventually developed a culture of misogyny that was an exaggerated mirror of the the very societies that they claimed to be against. According to Barry Chevannes, Rastafari’s dominance by the House of Nyahbinghi in the 1940s, saw it take a fundamentalist turn, that embraced Old Testament biblical literalism. Specifically, the Book of Leviticus, complete with the cleanliness laws that have alienated black women from Rastafari – and by extension, most other black movements.

That’s just one example. Whether it be Stokely Carmichael telling black women that their only position in SNCC is “prone”, not to mention the treatment of women in the Black Panther Party, one cannot blame black women for being skeptical of any black movement. Here is Elaine Brown in th Black Panther Party.

“A woman in the Black Power movement was considered, at best, irrelevant. A woman asserting herself was a pariah. If a black woman assumed a role of leadership, she was said to be eroding black manhood, to be hindering the progress of the black race. She was an enemy of the black people…. I knew I had to muster something mighty to manage the Black Panther Party.”

The above statement epitomizes everything that would keep black women away from any movement that involved blackness or Black Power. And then we wonder why black women have aproblem with blackness.

I’ve realized that its going o be very hard to celebrate blackness, without celebrating black women (yes , warts and all). And the sooner that other black men realize this, we can start celebrating ourselves.