Chris Rock’s “Good Hair” docu-film got me thinking about how we black women tackle the hair issue in the UK. Story isn’t much different but a short study last year and review of my personal story, spurred me to share this. So this extended poem written by me, commissioned by BBC Radio 3, is full of radio interviews in some of London’s black hairdressers with contributions from Dorothea Smartt and Khadijah Ibrahiim. Aired in the summer 2009.
After the advent of Chris Rocks movie this poem keeps the debate going in the UK.
The politics of hair affect all women around the globe. We are under constant pressure to beautify and 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 is 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.
The trials for Black women though, is also weighted in our historical confidence in our colour as well as to our physiques. Our beauty is tied up in a hierarchy of concepts that start with how we value our African features at the foundation.
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 bad hair when really, its not about the hair, its about perceptions. It’s how we choose to compartmentalise and label ‘other people’ and their habits just so we can feel comfortable about where we place them in our personal world of “well do I look better than them?/are they more inferior than me because I look better than them?” cliches. Get over it. There’s nothing wrong with you either!
I get so tired of hearing the same old regurgitated ‘relaxed hair’ theories as if it was tense before it was chemicalized) and weave jokes, when we need to look at esteem issues first, then you can utter 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. Any judgments made, is the person who is judging business, not ours. Know thy “SELF”. And DO YOUR THANG LADIES!! x