On June 13, 2014 a young lady named Jasmine Toliver, who has natural hair, decided to create a petition with the Change.org page asking Beyonce and Jay-Z to comb their two-year-old daughter Blue Ivy’s hair.
The petition reads: “As a woman who understands the importance of hair care, it’s disturbing to watch a child suffering from the lack of hair moisture. ‘The parents of Blue Ivy, Sean Carter aka Jay -Z and Beyonce, have failed at numerous attempts of doing Blue Ivy’s hair. This matter has escalated to the child developing matted dreads and lint balls. Please let’s get the word out to properly care for Blue Ivy’s hair.”
To my surprise, Ms. Toliver had over 3,000 people who joined her by signing the petition stating their reasons why they supported her petition. Many have weighed in on the topic, including celebrities. Based on the increased backlash on her Facebook page, Ms. Toliver has since posted, “[I]t was just a joke and people need to chill out.”
Not funny! That action perpetuates the lack of love for Black hair and reinforces the negative imprint that we need to move beyond. Why should that baby’s parents conceal her Black hair that grows out of her head? Who has the rule book on what natural hair style trumps the other?
It seems we are missing the opportunity to positively change the paradigm shift of how people historically have looked at Black hair. The natural hair community was birthed out of Black women wanting to own their image and/or become more practical or organic in styling, embracing their culture and learning to simply be more confident with the hair growing out of their heads based on their personal luxury of making a “choice.”
This brief list is not inclusive of all the reasons why Black women are truly going natural, but it captures the essence of the energy. Thankfully, we have a plethora of hair-care experts and stylists, some of whom have created books, websites, documentaries etc. that are dynamic, written before and during this current natural hair awakening.
They share various philosophies and studies on hair such as Hair Matters; Beauty, Power and Black Consciousness; Better Than Good Hair; The Science of Black Hair; Hairstory; and the list truly goes on and on and on. Although most of the information is very helpful in learning about our hair, it is important to remember that no two strands are alike.
Therefore, the information and advice, written or verbal, from the experts in the natural-hair field, whether the “hair expert” title is earned or self-proclaimed, should be used as a guide only. You have to find out what works on your own crown and become the expert on your hair.
In the natural hair community collectively, we have an opportunity to address the stigmas that remain, especially around texture discrimination, which is a hair-typing system where we use numbers and letters to determine hair classification. I am not fond of that system because it continues to foster division between people in the natural hair community.
Being a strong advocate of women learning to be experts on their own hair, I believe you have to touch it, watch it, feel it, smell it, listen to it, know it, etc. For many, the natural hair community is looked upon as a forum of sharing information that can inspire, motivate, educate and support each other as we grow through this natural hair journey.
The natural hair community is not a cult or an exclusive membership club where hair-care tips, styling and products are written in stone to achieve concrete solid hair outcomes. Our hair is diverse, and we should experiment to find what works best for our own tresses.
Let’s face it: Our hair texture is different from the standard by which hair is judged as normal; therefore, it will always stand out. It is bad enough society as a whole is struggling with accepting Black hair. However, I would not expect within the natural hair community to witness any form of judging, embarrassing, criticizing or attacking others based on of our personal definitions of kinky and curly hair mainstream.
As we move forward in our quest to learn Black hair, I know we can be confident, caring and conscious at the same time as we love our hair. Melissa Harris Perry, a professor, television host, and political commentator with a focus on African American politics, said it best: “Let’s pay attention to what is in our heads instead of what’s on our hair.”
Keep in mind that being pro-natural does not mean you are anti-relaxer. I like mine Fro Real No Lye!
Natural hair coach and enthusiast Kelley Eubanks welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.