Black history month means more to me than just a time to spew random facts of how black Americans contributed to history. For me, it’s a time to continue to narrow the racial divide and to strengthen the sisterhood. That sisterhood includes all women. After all, we know that women have played a significant part in history to encourage equality despite gender, race, color or creed.
I went to church with my friend, Kristen, and through her pastor’s words, God confirmed the message I wanted to send to you on the first day of black history month. It is in the little changes that you make in your everyday life that will make the most difference. No federal, state or international law can force healing.
This post is about being grateful for how far we’ve come and being focused on how we keep moving forward. We keep moving forward by realizing that little things perpetuate the racial divide. One of those, black sisters, is turning ethnic hair an issue. Use your girl power to make your hair a bonding experience and not an awkward moment.
Your Hair, Your Glory
The number of black women wearing their hair in its natural state continues to rise. For many, it is a step toward self-acceptance. It can also play a role in dividing the sisterhood based on hair texture. When a straight-haired friend wants to touch your hair, don’t automatically think that she is treating you like a zoo animal. Your hair is interesting. Don’t you remember wanting to play in a straight or curly-haired friend’s hair as a young girl?
Besides, don’t you think they can relate? As women, we can all relate to people judging us for our external beauty. Self-acceptance is something that we can all embrace and celebrate. Chances are most of your insecurities, regardless of race, often come from your home.
As a young girl, I would get in trouble for not being picture perfect. Ashy knees, wrinkle dressed, unkempt hair were all a no-no. After my mom died, my hair in its natural state was not accepted by my American relatives. They were the ones who did not like my hair. So maybe some of the discomfort and anger you might feel when someone asks to touch your hair might be displaced.
Hair is a Uniter not a Fighter
Girls, remember hair is one of the things women bond over. We all have fascinating manes, and we can wear it plenty of ways. Of course, the price we pay for that is that it requires a little more maintenance.
I was recently in Austin working on a project with my close friend and business partner. We both got up, showered and washed our hair. We sat around her kitchen drinking coffee and talking up a storm. She finally told me that she needed to dry her hair or else it would not be so nice to deal with. I replied I needed to do my hair as well. I put a braid in my hair, my friend’s hair and her daughter’s hair. The result was the same as when my niece, my daughter and I comb our hair: Some hair is easier to comb than others. Both her silky straight and my curly hair gave me the most problems to braid. Her daughter’s hair was great braiding hair.
The main thing was that we bonded further over our hair. Her daughter was so proud to have a braid like Mommy’s friend. She loved it so much! Hers lasted another day while her mother and I had not so much luck. Yet still the intimacy of playing in each other’s hair strengthened our sister bond.
Make Your Hair a Bonding Piece
Let’s increase the power of sisterhood by dealing with ourselves first. If you get comfortable with yourself, then comments about your hair will not be taken as an insult.
- Use your hair as conversation piece. The next time someone tells you they like your hair or wonder how you make your hair “do that,” then just explain it. Ask her about her hair as well. Remember women often bond over hair, nails, clothes and cosmetics.
- Ask yourself why you are insulted. Before you react to someone asking about your hair, take a moment to reflect why it bothers you. Work on embracing all of you before reacting to a comment. You will find that the more you are comfortable with yourself, the less it will bother you.
- Let’s do hair. Invite one of your white girlfriends over and do hair together. Yes, we have different textures across all girls of all races. You will find, though, some similar angst. Plus the more you do this, the less hair will be an issue.
Touch My Hair!
Girls, this month is all about dancing like nobody’s watching. It is all about living a life on purpose, and you have to let go of the small stuff. The next time one of your friends (or maybe even a stranger if you are brave) compliments you on your hair, smile and respond with: “Thank you. Do you want to touch it?”