Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Hair Issue...

For the better part of the past few years, I had relatively short hair which was mostly natural. I say mostly because as much as I would love to not have to touch it with any chemical at all, I do have to go against my wishes to loosen up the very tight kinky curls of most of us "native Africans" as I have recently been called, as opposed to African Americans. In other words, those of us not necessarily blessed with "Good Hair" or something like that. HA!

In recent months, I decided to switch it up. I got long wet and wavy braids from human hair, along with the simple braids my baby girl sported for her third birthday. Like mother, like daughter, eh? (Laughing). I got a lot of positive response with that hair, especially at work. I was told I looked younger, like in my twenties or something. Some folk thought my hair had grown and the surprise is not only in them thinking it was my real hair but in thinking it can grow that fast. Now, I have lived in the United States for almost eleven years, but the past few months is the first time that I will work in an area where I hardly see black folk. I have had two black patients in nine months, so to speak. Anyway, what I am trying to say is most of these responses have come from Caucasians.

When my long braids were about to expire or combust if I didn't change something, I had to take them out and that I did, even though I did not have enough time to get another hair do that same weekend. That left me with one week of looking quite afrocentric with my headwrap, if you catch my drift! I got a totally different set of responses. From "can I see your hair underneath?" to thinking the little frilly stuff at the edge of the fabric might be my hair to wondering if my braids were still inside it and just bunched up. I even joked and told some people they could have found roaches or rodents in my hair before I took the long braids out.

After a week of the wrap, I got a chance to sport another do. This time, I got short twists just about the length of my real hair, which is what I would call mid-length now. Of course mid-length black hair would be short for some other folk. Moving on. Here's the real kicker. People have been touching my hair. Most think it is my real hair. Many think I got a hair cut because my previous hair was down to past my shoulders.

I find myself having to refer people to the movie "Good Hair" by Chris Rock, or should I say the documentary. Contrary to some of the responses I have heard, I believe it is not only informative but necessary to see what other people go through to get their hair to look like something you can walk out of your bedroom in. The only disclaimer I add is that I do not spend $2K on my hair but rather, closer to a few tens or when it is to last a few months such as what I have on now, I might spend a little under $200. But that  would be my limit. The $180 hair would have to last three  months for it to be worth the expense.                                                                         

What really gets me is that as many black people as there are in this country, other races really have close to no idea how our hair care differs from theirs or that a black person can go from short hair to long hair in six hours and of course it's not their real hair, duh. I have had so many different hairstyles in my time that I think I'll display some of them here for your perusal, as long as I can locate a photo for you.

But you know what? We are all guilty of not knowing enough about the other race, of not paying enough attention, of maybe even not being interested. In as much as some of the statements people have made about my various hairstyles in the last year have been sometimes annoying or ignorant, at least it beats lack of interest. Someone even gave me hair product earlier this week and I realized when I looked at it that it was most likely made for curly Caucasian hair and not black hair. But the important thing is that she reached out to me in friendship and gave me a gift which I truly appreciate.

I am not without fault in this matter. It was only in recent years that I realized how much stuff Caucasians also do to their hair, sometimes on a daily basis. People with curly hair straighten it to get the straight look. People put highlights in their hair or constantly dye it for a preferred hair color. It's a little more than just jumping in the shower and using a blow dryer and ruffling their hands through it like I used to think. It sounds so ignorant now but I really didn't know better. I now know my Caucasian sisters also get perms and have to buy lots of hair product from holding sprays, gels and mousse to just about anything to get it to be anything other than in a pony tail. Even the men might need some mousse for a mohawk or the Brad Pitt effect.

Shouldn't we be a little more interested in not only our similarities but our differences? Shouldn't we care more about the next person? Even an African American with good hair may not fully understand what the rest of us go through. And I admit I am totally hating now but hey, I can't just put olive oil in my hair and walk out the door looking fly. It will most likely all end up on my forehead later in the day and the hair will still be the same. And I couldn't possibly just jump in the pool for a swim (if I could swim) and have hair looking great again thirty minutes later. But by the same token, the sister with the good hair is so much harrassed and hated on about it that it's crazy. One said to me recently that people have told her to her face that they believe she relaxes her hair secretly. Now that's just hurtful.

Maybe I'm alone in this but I absolutely am almost at a loss for words about how much more we ALL need to try harder to be in someone else's shoes and to see life outside of our little sphere. Can it really be so hard to just look around and pay attention to things other than our immediate business? Would a little quest for knowledge or a little interest hurt?

What say you?

As we approach the new year, BLESSINGS!

No comments:

Post a Comment