Does Natural Hair Make You Blacker?

by Kristian Richards via NaturallyCurly.com

Trending topics on Twitter can sometimes be humorous, crass or just plain dumb. But they can also serve as an insight into what a large group of people is buzzing about. Recently, a lively conversation began about whether or not having natural hair makes you “blacker.”

Can you be “blacker” if you’re already black — and “blacker” than who? We decided to get to the bottom of the controversy and add our own opinion to the conversation.

Does Natural Hair Make You “Blacker?”

Over the last few weeks, more and more articles and responses have popped up on the Internet regarding natural hair and “blackness.” Sister 2 Sister posted an article that asked this same question: does having natural hair somehow make you “blacker?”

The question spurred a frenzy of comments on Twitter, and the author shared her thoughts on the issue as a woman with a perm. She revealed that she “never believed in the silly notion that Black women who straighten their hair are trying to resemble their White female counterparts with long, silky smooth tresses.”

A look through the comments on the article shows that most women agree with her, and that hair does not define a woman, nor can it be used as a measurement of “blackness.”

Blackness and Natural Hair

Trying to define blackness is like trying to define love; it’s different for every single person and produces unique experiences that can rarely be duplicated. Of course, like love, blackness means something different depending on who you ask.

For some, blackness reflects someone’s interests, clothing or the way they talk. For others, it may have more to do with deeper qualities, such as a knowledge of black history or having and displaying cultural pride.

Historically, natural hair has been used as a source of black pride and resistance to assimilation. The Afro in particular had social and political connotations that reflected the “black and proud” sentiment of the time. Since then, however, the decision to go natural has become popular for all kinds of reasons and has even become a national trend devoid of political implications.

Natural Hair is a Personal Choice

Wearing your hair naturally may make your more confident or more conscious of your native texture, but does natural hair make you “blacker?” The short answer is no.

Sometimes harsh words fly back and forth between the natural hair community and those who wear weaves or get their hair chemically-straightened. But one thing everyone has to remember is that our hair does not define us — it simply reveals our sense in style and fashion much the same those killer heels do!

26 Weigh in!:
Unknown said...

I think wearing your hair natural does kind of make you more 'blacker' in a sense... you are reflecting your hair in its natural state, but then again you can't define that as being black because natural hair comes in different types..

but...

I do think it depends on the mentality of the person who has their hair straightened/permed/ or wearing a straight weave... if they are doing it to deny their 'blackness' then that is the problem, because they are not accepting who they are.

I would love to see more black women wear their hair natural as it is very inspirational for me and also growing up, I hardly saw any, so it did help with understanding a part of what being black is, but also gave me a certain level of acceptance.

I do feel it comes down to the individual's opinion and definition of what 'being black' is, but it also comes down to self- acceptance...

(I know that was all over the place,but I hope it made sense..I was kind of carried away typing)

@UKnaturals -Rachy

Anonymous said...

Wearing your hair in its natural state most definitely does not make you "blacker". And just as the author stated, women who choose to straighten their hair are not trying to be White. ALL women or at least majority of women have some sort beef with their hair. We tend to want the opposite of what we have. All people of ethnic background straighten, perm, fry, dye their hair all in the name of doing something different. Its not always that deep when it comes to hair. Some people just like what they like.

Jas

LM said...

these topics are really annoying to me..i mean, seriously? Ur black if that is your ethnicity. period

Unknown said...

I agree with LM. And I'm tired of people saying to me (yes, someone has said this to my face) that I look "afro-centric". I just thought that I looked like me.

Anonymous said...

I'll be really interested in seeing where this goes...

To answer the question: It didn't make ME blacker because I didn't need any help in that area.

That said, for better or worse, I don't believe in assigning degrees of blackness to styles, things, places, or behaviors in general. If this is the only life I get, then I'm going to take in as much of it as I possibly can. I feel I owe it to my ancestors who didn't have the access -- to freedom, to technology, to education -- that I have now.

The notion that something as superficial as hair texture can determine where you are on a sliding scale of blackness is a 60s notion that may have worked politically back then but doesn't work now. I am existentially black because I descend from black people. Any qualification or classification beyond that implies external limitations that I reject.

Anonymous said...

If you identify as Black, then you are Black there is no rating scale to determine just how Black you are. That being said, we all judge and have notions of what being Black means and many of us consider some people more Black than others. We're people and we do that. I would argue that all racial ethnic groups do. Which is why you may experience conflict of some sort if you fall outside of the accepted stereotypes for your group.

I get the argument presented here HOWEVER, for some people wearing their hair in its unrelaxed state does make them feel more connected to their ancestry and heritage. For others that may not be true. The truth is that at least this point wearing your hair natural does have political implications whether that is your intention or not.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't make you blacker, but it does indicate that you are more accepting of your blackness.

Anonymous said...

WTF is "blacker"? That word is dumb and incorrect anyway.

Anonymous said...

It definitely doesn't make you "blacker"... You can't act a race. But I will say...being natural has made me more confident. And I wasn't expecting that.

Anonymous said...

No. If you self-identify as Black and your region perceives you as Black-then you are so-called "Black". This being Blacker is pure BS- no one would have confused me for anything else accept Black no matter what the state of my hair. If anything, natural hair states: I'm comfortable with myself and my ancestry. I could care less what feeble minded people think as I am no longer brainwashed.

We need to understand that the Earth's population is filled with so many diverse looks-supposed "afro-textured" hair is one of these looks and I have seen "afro-textured" hair on a large array of Middle Easterner's, Pacific Islanders, and other nationalities/ethnic groups. I'm also fed up with the descriptions of straight hair on "Whites" that include "long and silky or flowing" as if "Whites" are the only one's with this hair texture and that it must be just like the adjectives stated previously. I've known plenty of white folks with straight hair but it's coarse, rough, ragged, short, w/ bald spots etc.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it makes you blacker, I just think it means that you have accepted your texture in the face of the overwhelming attitude against it. As a matter of fact, I've seen many naturals act stereotypically "white": "good" speech, listen to alternative music, hang out with lots of non-blacks, marry non-black men. And I've seen many naturals that are overtly "black" to the point of black militancy.

But I've have noticed that many weaved and permed black women may like "good hair" (nonblack textured hair), but they are unmistakably black: love black music, have black friends, date and marry blacks exclusively, etc. Seems like more "ghetto" types never have natural hair, but learned black women have natural hair.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a great article and I agree that it does not for me anyway. My reason for having natural hair is simply because I had a fight with a perm and lost and have always been sensitive to them so I let it go. I am the "whitest" natural chick I know, based on certain stereoypes but my point is my taste in music, fashion, hobbies, and attitude do not resemble any norm "black natural girl" right on (with a fist pump) stigma. I am a black female because of my color Im me because of my persona and identity, that represents only my interests. ppl put natural hair on a pedastal that implies you have to be a certain type person with certain values, while for what I have experienced about those cultural stigmas, I do not fit in but I love me despite adverse beliefs...lol, sorry about the long post. TW

Anonymous said...

I Think it depends on what the definition of blackness is. When i think of blackness I think of black women in the media like Mrs. Obama, Nikki Minaj, or Rihanna ect. Allot of women on tv don't wear their hair natural. In Africa allot of people have weave or perms. Having natural hair (wearing it out) i do not consider myself being blacker than someone who does not. I kind of feel less black maybe just different.

Anonymous said...

I hate the fact that this is even a question. "Blackness" cannot be defined by statistics or any portrayals of the media. I would never ask anyone to prove their "whiteness" or "asian-ness,etc. so why is it that this question is always being posed to black people? Are black people allowed to be multi-faceted? If I straighten my hair, I'm "acting white" while wearing my hair in its natural state is militant and "black". The way a person wears their hair is about personal style, not their race, ethnicity, etc.
There is irony in the fact that a century ago there was the "one drop rule" and now there's the notion that people aren't "black enough". This world is screwed up and so are the people in it.

moonchyldcrab82 said...

I don't think you can really be "blacker". If you identify yourself as black then that's what you are. Natural hair may make people feel more in touch with their ancestry but that's personal. If being in touch with your ancestry is not important to you then that's not going to draw you in.

I agree that black women that straighten their hair aren't necessarily trying to be white, but I find that Americans aren't very introspective. I know VERY few people that take the time to explore why they feel the way they feel about varying topics. People that take a STRONG stance against natural hair have some level of self hatred or unexplored bias. Anybody that feels that negative about something as trivial as hair has some psychological issues they should look into. Now if you're the weave queen but you can look at a woman with natural hair and give her props and see the beauty in her hair that you see in weaves then maybe you don't have these hang ups but I think a lot of other people do.

The things that you hate say a lot more about you than the things that you love...

Anonymous said...

I would have to disagree with some of the ladies; going natural did not make me more connected to my heritage or my ancestors. And it doesn't make me "more black" than my relaxed sisters. I went natural because relaxers were thinning out my hair. There was no profound reason, no reflextive journey, no need to be close to my ancestors over on the motherland. I just want thicker hair.

Prinie said...

I haven't really thought about it as being "blacker". I'm not one to think about race too much. I know that some people think of it this way but for me, I just want my natural hair back. I've been at a point in my life for some time now where all I want is to be my happy, natural physical, spiritual, emotional, mental self and to be loved and accepted for it instead of all of the "complexities".

I really feel that at the end of the day, we just have to be really honest with ourselves about who we are, what we want, why we're doing what we're doing and who we want to be. For me, I just want a simple, happy, life pursuing the things that make my spirit say, "Amen". That's the only way for me to find my joy.

Anonymous said...

Interesting topic. Nope, natural hair doesn't make you "blacker." I wear my hair in dreadlocs and that doesn't make me a rasta. It's a choice, like it's a choice to color your hair. --KalleyC

Anonymous said...

yes because the reality of being black is that flimsy and easily redefined....

Anonymous said...

"Does Natural Hair Make You Blacker?" No it does not. It's an absurd question, imo. Rather like asking "Does Speaking Correct English Make You Less Black?" My hair is locd, but I am not Rasta. When it was fried, dyed, and laid to the side I was not white. It will be one fine day when people can just do as they please with their hair without some people feeling as if they have to attach some sort of deeper significance to it.

Anonymous said...

Actually, in my experience with having natural hair black people associate kinky-curly hair with being mixed. So I definitely don't think the majority of black people would think it makes you "blacker" whatever that is suppose to mean to them.

Since many black women don't know how to or don't wish to wear their hair curly, in general black people associate "going natural" with your level of "whiteness" because they will say stuff like you must have white ancestors and that's why it is easy for you to go natural or they will say black people can't go natural because they "need" relaxers.

I use to associate relaxed hair with "nappy" hair because that it what I was taught by my family. If you had natural hair to my family that meant that you had "good hair" and so you were not "as black" as someone with a relaxer.

But that was back in the day and of course now I know that "blacker" or "blackness" in itself means nothing and hair does not define people.

Anonymous said...

This is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. How can being yourself make you "blacker"? Further more how does one become "blacker". I wear my hair in its natural state because I am content with what grows out of my head and not to be seen as more in tune with my race. Why then is this question not posed to white ppl who choose to wear their hair straight and not get a perm to make their hair curly. Are they "whiter"? This discussion is absurd and a little disturbing.

Anonymous said...

I'm black because my parents are black. My hair, where I gre up, where I live or how I speak has nothing to do with my "blackness." I went natural because I have 2 daughters with the most beautiful curls I have ever seen and mommy wanted to be like them. They inspired my transition not the notion of being "blacker" or identifing with my "blackness." I make the hair, the hair doesn't make me.

Anonymous said...

I don't get why people think having natural hair makes them "blacker".
Did Bo Derek having cornrows make her less white?

J'Saniyah said...

First of all define what being "blacker" means??? Thats like the dumbest statement I have ever heard...and I'm actually offended by that. I'm black. End of story. You mean to tell me just because I want to wear my hair in its NATURAL state I want to become "blacker" and again what in the hell does that even mean???

NikNak said...

I'm sorry but the fact that the vast majority of Black women (well Black people, generally) prefer hair that is less kinky and therefore straighten it, is evidence in itself that Black women have a problem w/ their "Blackness." It's more than fashion. Not wearing a relaxer is trend. Wearing a relaxer is like a rite of passege into Black womanhood. I've never met a White curly haired woman who has even encountered a hot comb or attempted to use a relaxer.

But just like an addict, people make up excuses to justify their habit.

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