The good hair, bad hair myth: another self destructive legacy from slavery
by Brother Manifest
The black community since slavery has dealt with the myth of good hair vs. bad hair. Though the hair texture of people of African descent is prone to be curly, the majority of black women often seek a remedy for "bad hair". The "good hair" by definition is straight, long and flowing and easy to get a comb through. "Bad hair" is just the opposite, unmanageable, extremely curly, and "nappy". By definition the hair that our Creator blessed us with at birth should be appreciated and looked upon as beautiful, however in the black community for a large majority of women & men, it is not. Unlike other ethnicities that take pride in their natural hair, many in the black community look at their natural, "nappy hair" as a burden of disgrace, as socially unacceptable. Happily Natural Day as a vehicle was created to uplift the cultural and ethnic pride of Africans worldwide and do away with the idea that the natural characteristics of African culture and ethnicity are socially unacceptable.
There is a legacy that the black community confronts daily due to its unique history in America, the fact that for decades anything having to do with black people was considered the object of ridicule and looked upon in disdain by mainstream European culture. This phenomenon gave birth to an intense inferiority complex in the Black community and can be identified around the world as a characteristic response to white supremacy, a response in which many begin to negate themselves in an attempt to assimilate into European culture. Though it would be an overgeneralization to say that all black women straighten their hair to look like white women; many do so because they simply are not knowledgeable of the easy, cost effective ways in which to take care of their natural hair, it must be noted that for the majority of print & cinematic media especially lifestyle magazines, network television, and the fashion industry the model for beauty is consistently a white woman. These areas of media are referenced everyday by the general public for what is considered socially acceptable in terms of beauty.
How much does the ideal of white supremacy affect us today? How does the acceptance of European standards of beauty as universal reverberate through the African Diaspora? In South Africa, there are a large number of our black brothers & sisters who are so discomforted by their dark skin that they go to extremes to bleach their skins causing illness and in extreme cases death in the quest to get light, "fair" skin. In adherence to the social mores, status quo, and in conformity to an ideal of beauty characterized by European culture & Western society, African’s in America and throughout the world attempt to lighten their skin tone, straighten their hair texture, and through plastic surgery, thin both nose & lips at serious risk to physical health, not to mention the psychological ramifications of not being able to accept the inherent beauty of one’s ethnicity.
50 years ago, psychologist Kenneth Clark’s work with black children became pertinent evidence in the landmark case Brown vs. Board of Education. The now infamous doll test found that black children were identifying with white dolls more so than black dolls showing that segregation of public schools were detrimental to black children, that it bred an inferiority complex. The findings of that study helped to desegregate the schools, an event we are celebrating this year throughout the United States. In the 1980’s the same test was done with the same results, showing that the inferiority complex of black children runs deeper than school. It stands to reason that it was not the segregation of the schools that caused the inferiority complex; it was ideals of white supremacy & the disparity between whites & blacks throughout society caused by white supremacy that bred this cyclical syndrome of self-discontent.
The inferiority complex of black children is a societal issue that follows black children into adulthood. By nature what we hate we seek to destroy, disrespect, & mistreat. Today, throughout the Western hemisphere, black youths are destroying, disrespecting, and mistreating each other at alarming rates unparalleled. The irony is that during segregation and during the Civil Rights movement, the phenomenon of black on black crime was not nearly as prevalent as it is today. Characteristic of the Civil Rights movement and resulting Black Power Movement was the unity of the black community around various societal issues and the resurgence in Black Pride exemplified by the slogan "Black is beautiful", natural hair styles i.e. Afros, dashikis, and etc. which was reinforced & permeated through the music, poetry, and culture of the mid 1960’s and early 70’s. It therefore can be reasoned that when we as black people are unified in our community, aware of and giving recognition to our natural beauty, and reverence to our culture as African people, the community becomes a better place.
The purpose of Happily Natural Day is to reaffirm our pride in our culture & ethnicity as African people worldwide, to give our brothers & sisters empowering, uplifting, and eye-opening information in regard to the importance of black culture, natural health and hair care, positive edutainment, and most importantly to unify the black community as we to celebrate our natural selves. As natural hair styles are resurgent in popularity it is important that we dig beneath the surface, and tap into the minds of the masses and wake up the collective mental potential of our African brothers & sisters, for this purpose a significant portion of Happily Natural Day is dedicated to presentations by renowned scholars in the fields of black consciousness, natural health and haircare. Also, spoken word poets, musicians, and visual artists from VA, MD, & DC provide socially conscious presentations for our patrons to vibe to and meditate on.
Join us! We welcome all potential sponsors, vendors, poets, musicians, artists, locticians, and natural hair care specialists to come be a part of Happily Natural Day!! Over the last two years, we have provided a forum for all aspects of the black community to network, educate, dialogue, and most of all celebrate our natural essence as African people throughout the diaspora. We want to raise the vibration of the global black community young and old through Happily Natural Day and events like it, with faith that embracing and black consciousness will be our salvation as global African people. The collective strength of the black community in unison is what has made and will make Happily Natural Day a successful grassroots event this year and for years to come!
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