A Step 2 post, Free Ourselves from Mental Slavery
World Afro Day*…Really?
I found out that some well-meaning person or organization declared September 17th “World Afro Day”*. Really, did we need that? Apparently so. When sexism, racism, capitalism and preoccupation with external appearances converge, we get “World Afro Day.” To the millions who have been sporting their natural hair all along, who have fearlessly and unapologetically resisted pressure to assimilate, to conform to someone else’s ideal of beauty, I say, “Strut on with your bad self!”
But let’s dissect this matter a bit more.
The topic of hair for Black women is fraught with emotion, anxiety and sometimes even shame. Or so I was reminded in the article that brought this observance to my awareness. A large number of us have been miseducated, indoctrinated and coerced into believing that we are not feminine, professional or desirable unless we look like the majority culture’s vision of female beauty. If our hair is naturally curly, kinky, or sparce, we will not win in this world unless we wear a weave or hairpiece or wig or whatever other artificial hair accoutrement mainstream Western culture dictates. We cannot relax and just be. We cannot just wake up, wash up, our brush our heads and go. We must DO SOMETHING with our hair before we can leave the house. We cannot swim or sweat too much. We cannot be intimate with abandon or enjoy playful physicality with our partners. That might upset our coif. We cannot go through life mostly unaware of our hair, just relaxing and living and engaging with the world in an unselfconscious fashion. We must always carry the weight of self-awareness, go outside our nature and spend money we do not have to look like we were never meant to look.
So, when did this Law take effect? And what happens if we all break it at once, not just on World Afro Day, but all year long? All of us, everyone! Take the plunge! Literally, let’s just go under, fully submerge for a while and come up ready to be ourselves. If we all did this at once, would all our men leave? All our bosses fire us? Our friends and family disown us? Will we hate looking in the mirror?
Or, maybe we would slowly rid ourselves of people and perceptions that oppress and devalue us. Maybe we might just relax and have time and energy and money to focus on more meaningful endeavors. Maybe we would begin to feel more carefree and unburdened, creative and strong, resilient and sassy. Maybe we would just love ourselves, our natural selves. And our daughters and sons will love themselves. And in time, maybe the laws of Black Hair Oppression/Black ‘hairpression’ will become null and void and we, with a bow to our forgiving and humorous nature, will consider designating a ‘World Weave Day’.