I am sadden to report that there was a lot of division, backstabbing, plagerism, and hatred in the natural hair community during 2016. Everyone hasn’t experienced the love and support that I have on my hair journey. In fact, people in certain natural hair groups, blogs and pages were flat out disrespected. I witnessed more cyber-bulling last year than I personally experienced as a child and I was traumatized. I think about the insecurities I developed and can’t help but to empathize with these victims. It has gotten so bad a few times that I have spoke up in their defense. I don’t want anyone to spend as much time as I did learning to love and accept myself because someone else dismisses or disapproves of you.
Yes, there are natural hair clicks disguised as communities. Beware of any place (a page, a group, another person) that does not respect, empower and uplift you in you real and virtual life. Curly girls are categorized by race, skin tone or curl pattern. There are some people with ridged, narrow-minded views of who actually belongs in the community. They ridicule and attack anyone who doesn’t fit their limited definition of natural hair. However, I’ve noted that people are more likely to express their negativity in aggressive manners online. I want to share my thoughts on what I’ve observed in Facebook groups, Instagram and on blog posts in hopes that we can do better in 2017.
Race, Ethnicity & Skintone
Some feel that the natural hair movement is only for black people. Black women across the globe have a stigma for being unwelcoming and harsh toward white and Latina women who want to converse about hair. White and Latina sitsahs are often accused of wanting to steal black people’s styles. Rachel Dozel doing braids to supplement her income and the Kardashian’s boxer braid shannigans are prime examples of white women exploiting and commercializing our culture. I get it.
What I don’t get is why it is assumed that that is the intention of every white and Latina woman who asks a question about natural hair. They get cussed out, called names, told they do not belong in the natural hair world. This causes hurt feelings and reinforces the angry black woman stereotypes. White and Latina Curl Friends have wondered how can they stand with us against war, oppression and sexism if we can’t even dialog about hair. They withdraw from the natural hair groups but remember these bitter interactions long after they leave.
The dynamics related to ethnicity and skintone in the natural hair community reflects that of mainstream society. There is an invisible line that differentiates fair-skinned individuals and dark-skinned individuals. This makes no sense to me. When it comes to my haircare regiment, I have more in common with my Curl Friend from Serbia (I met her in a natural hair group when she was ridiculed for posing a question about Beyoncé not role modeling the natural life. I had the same question but never discussed it.) than my Sistah Queens with straight hair and weave from my own (neighbor) hood. We have the same struggles when it comes to retaining moisture and fighting frizz. It doesn’t matter what race and ethnicity you are when it comes to curls. Conditioner is conditioner. We don’t need the same products or styling techniques as women who straighten their hair, not matter what Skintone. Heat protectant is heat protectant.
Curl Friends Friends also have conflicts based on hair type. Yes, that’s right. Hair typing is popular in the natural hair community. It’s a way for us to guess which products will work best for our hair. (Sabrina Perkins just wrote a great post on hair typing systems on her Naturals for Beginners blog. Check it out here.) I’ve mostly whitnessed Sistah Queens with tight coily curls ostracize and humiliate those with loose, silky hair patterns for having the audacity to think their hair is problematic. I’ve since Sistah with the loose curls look in disgust at some of the kinky sistahs.
This is stupid as hell to me because curl typing isn’t really useful. everyone’s hair is different even if the hair type is the same. There’s no scientific value in it. I am a 3C, 4B, and 4C depending on what I out in my hair and what I do to it. I bought products suggested for 3C and 4C hair types and my hair was gooky or dry. I didn’t work for me. There’s no reason to have disagreements about which hair type is superior. All hair is beautiful and manageable once you understand about hair porosity. There are countless articles about this topic. Google it.
Color Treated Hair
Oh we are so petty. Yes, there are even debates that claim those of us with colored treated hair are not truly naturals. This is because hair coloring systems are chemicals that change the color of the hair. Some of the harsher chemicals like bleach and peroxide can change the hair’s porosity. Color treated hair is more prone to damage. All of this is true but I don’t find it a reason to exclude.
The bottom line is unity is needed more than ever in this world of political, religious and oppressive violence. Everyone wants to define and control the masses. No one can control their own impulses so let the natural hair community start there. Keep posting selfies, reviewing products and learning from each other. We have a unique opportunity to show the world what a civil and empowered community is. We have power. The hair and beauty industry has more than $8 billion of power. Let’s use it wisely.
Unity is in the hair.