I know many are asking what hair has to do with religion and it really does not have much to do with it, but I was reading this article about Black women and hair this morning, which shows many videos of Black women discussing hair and going natural, as well as taking pride in their natural hair. At the very least, the use of chemicals and latex glue is a health concern, which is potentially life threatening in some cases. That and natural Black hair is beautiful, but not all of this is just about Black hair. Some White women can take something away from this too, because it does involve a humanistic view concerning pride in oneself.
As a mother of two sons who are half Black, I have something to say about this and that is, I love natural Black hair. I also sell hair and Black hair products a couple times a week at a store and I have seen, as well as heard, a lot concerning hair over the last several months working there, including, “You’re White. You don’t know nothing about Black hair.” When I mention that my sons are half Black, that does not really help, because the response is, “Well, they’re half White, so they have good hair.” What does that have to do with whether their hair is good hair or not? I really take issue with that, because I think natural Black hair is beautiful, even my sons’ father, especially when he takes care of his hair, always had soft hair too.
I have always loved Diana Ross’ hair and when I was younger, I wanted her hair, until I learned to be happy with my hair, which shows some of the American Indian genes I inherited from some of my ancestors. Ross once said in an interview that hair is a symbol of strength and power, which I think she took that symbolism from the story of Samson, in the Bible. As a humanist, I have no problem with such symbolism, the symbolism was good, and showed pride in her own natural hair, which I do not believe are tracks weaved into her natural hair.
However, I love the fact my sons can grow a natural afro, that is soft and beautiful, but there is a problem. My older son, who let his hair grow out into a very long fro, wants hair like mine. He wants long straight, silky hair, like mine, which I told him that is not possible, but he got the idea that my hair is better than his is. This make sense if one spent a lifetime hearing that his hair is good hair because he is part White, but such thinking is not rational or even correct.
No amount of chemicals in the world will straighten his hair to look and feel exactly like mine. The chemicals will just burn it, making it dry and brittle, possibly giving him some sort of cancer. We can even sit in the kitchen, with a hot comb, all day and his hair still would not look like mine. All he needs is some detangler and some conditioning hair grease or oil sheen and my son is good to go, if he would just do it, looking very handsome.
Now for any White readers, undamaged, natural, Black hair is soft. It is not like a Brillo pad, as your parents might have told you. My mother told me that when I was a child and well, it is not true. It can feel very much like soft lambs wool, just as our hair can feel silky as a short hair cat, unless we put a ton of chemicals on it or have health issues. Then, like anyone else’s hair, it often becomes dry, damaged, and brittle, but worse things can happen with applying chemicals to our hair and scalp. There is also some fact that the health of one’s hair shows how healthy the person is. It can show malnutrition and even drugs or poisons consumed or used and similarly, what we put on our hair can affect our health and even our lives.
The other problem I see, with my older son, is that he rarely uses “hair grease”, oil sheen, or even detangler in his hair. Instead, when he brushes his long hair, he makes me cringe as he starts from the top of his long hair, literally ripping due to the tangles. He wants long straight hair, but it appears he has no pride in his long natural hair, probably because he has also heard comments that White hair is better and other similar comments. He will not cut it though and personally, I really do not want him to cut it either. Deep down, I think he does like his hair though and so do it. The truth is no one ethnic type of hair is better than another type of hair. They are all beautiful.
I use a detangler on my hair and start at the bottom when I brush my hair, which I encourage him to do and when he offers me the opportunity to care for his hair, I use at least my conditioning detangler, if not some hair sheen on his hair and start at the bottom of his hair, working my way up to the top.
Many Black women have told me that Black people cannot grow their hair, but I have difficulty buying that, because of the chemicals they use so often to relax it or latex glue to put in a weave.
One woman came in and told me she lost some hair due to my boss, a “master stylist”, gluing a weave onto her head. She showed me her scalp and she literally had bald patches. That is not mentioning the sever scalp itch she also complained about, but she did not act racist and take issue with me as an employee of the store by telling me I know nothing, like some people do.
Instead, she asked me what I thought she should do and, even though I knew that it would take some business from my boss, I told her to leave her hair alone, aside from using moisturizing products, as well as explained to her that some people are deathly allergic to latex glue. I also explained that leaving her hair alone, only treating it with conditioners and maybe even a hot oil treatment or two, will allow it to recover and even grow out again, but the latex glue was my biggest concern because people can die from it.
Home Office pathologist Michael Heath told the inquest into her death that the latex glue used to apply her extensions – or the solvent for removing old ones – may have been to blame.
He added: ‘I’ve seen cases where people using solvent to apply extensions has actually caused anaphylactic shock.
‘There are about ten to 20 deaths a year in this country, many more in America. I have seen four in the last three months.’
I thought she was going to take my advice, but instead she let my boss talk her into gluing in another weave. I was literally horrified! I was horrified because of the latex glue, which some women die from, and because I knew that would cause further damage to the woman’s hair.
I can understand wanting long hair. I have long hair, but I take issue with dangerous poisons. If one cannot wait for their hair to grow out again, and really want a weave, then do a “sew in”. Better yet, use braiding hair, or get a wig, but please do not use glue. The glue not only damages your beautiful hair, but also can potentially kill you.
My late grandfather would watch me pluck my eyebrows when I was a teen and say, “Pain for beauty.” The truth is, if striving for a certain concept of beauty can do damage or even kill you, it is not worth it, in my opinion. Human life is more important than striving for a concept of beauty.
Using a hot comb or a hot iron to straighten your hair is better than using chemicals or potentially deadly glue to put a weave on your head, even though that can burn and damage your hair too. Besides, all the hair that says 100% human hair, I question, because I cannot fathom where hair makers get all this supposed “human hair” and “100% premium human hair”. I question if there are enough humans in the world to produce so much human hair for sale. Such supposed human hair surely contains some synthetic blend to it.
While seeing a needle close to the scalp bothers me, even braiding your hair and then sewing in tracks of hair, is better than using glue. “Sew ins” are less likely to poison you and less likely to damage your hair as much or leave you with bald patches. Adding braiding hair to your own hair is better than that, in my opinion.
Even harsh chemicals, such as hair relaxers, can damage hair, leaving it dry and brittle. There is also some question about how healthy such products are, but as of to date, I have not read anyone dying from them, except for one health warning on some straightening products. WAPT News (video on site) reported that relaxers might contribute to tumors and even early puberty in girls, but scientists need to do further studies.
However, anything that can potentially burn your skin, could present a health issue and walking into the salon part of the store, I can believe there is a strong association between relaxers and tumors. The odors relaxers emit could cause lung or other health problems alone, especially when one already has a breathing problem.
Going with one’s own natural beauty can bring out one’s pride and confidence in themselves, as well as one’s inner beauty. I know I was happier when I stopped trying to perm my hair, because it only fried when I did that and I was disappointed, sadden, ashamed that I looked like fried French poodle, instead of Diana Ross. I learned that it would not happen, that I had to stop forcing myself to be what I am not, and eventually I started loving my own hair, because it possesses its own ethnicity. I started taking pride in that my American Indian genes contributed some to how I look, including my hair. It is all about loving yourself as you are.
However, my point is, all women, no matter what color their skin is or what ethnicity their hair is, are beautiful human beings and it is not worth killing yourself for an unnatural form of beauty that is probably someone else’s concept of beauty imposed on you. The fact is, you all have beautiful natural hair, and you should take pride in it. Take pride that you can, with a little time and care, grow a natural afro. Take pride in yourself and your natural beauty, not strive for someone else’s definition of beauty, because the bottom line is, you are never going to have hair that looks like someone else’s, at least not naturally.
As I overheard one Black woman say to another in the store, of which I agreed with and even said so, “You remember when we were kids, we had hair! Why do you think we don’t have hair now? It’s because of what we do to it that we don’t have hair now.” Words of wisdom from one woman who is striving to go with the hair she was born with, which is beautiful.
Not only that, people said in the 60s and 70s that Black is beautiful. It is beautiful, right down to the hair and with a little time, care, and effort, I think many Black women can grow hair similar to Diana Ross or similar to my older son’s hair, which is long and beautiful too. This is not to discount the beauty of other people, but I think there is a problem when one is risking their health to achieve someone else's concept of beauty.
Lastly, take pride in your hair and do not tell a White mother and her offspring, who are half Black, “They have good hair, because they are half White.” I do not buy it, especially not after some of the things I have seen. I think it causes self-esteem problems and causes some mixed individuals to think that their White parent’s hair is even better, when it is not and even another Black woman noticed this behaviour too, which she mentions in her video.
I have tried for 23 years to instill pride in my sons for whom they are and pride in their features. It gets old to hear some Black person come along and tell them, in some fashion, Black is not as good as White, when most of you know that is not true, but that is what they hear you saying when you say they have good hair due to being part White.
I also think if Mrs. Obama decided to let her hair grow naturally, without straightening it, I would still love her hair too, because it is beautiful. Then again, no need to listen to me, because I am just some White woman who raised two sons who are half Black.