by Christabel Mintah of Chy’s Curlz
The African vs African American Hair Practices post I shared with the CurlyNikki.com community, engendered a lot of response beyond my expectations. I really wrote it from a special place in my heart because it was an experience I lived without really understanding the implications of the practice. There were varied responses – from those who made it a “we” vs. “them” thing and those who were the litmus test as to who had more “cultural baggage” than the other. It wasn’t intended as any of that but I do understand that there are as many perspectives as there are individuals.
I still thought I should clarify that it wasn’t meant to be divisive in the least neither was it meant to speak for the whole A or AA people. I couldn’t do that, after all, my viewpoints are only shaped by MY experiences and that of those around me. So, my experiences were:
- my hair was actually relaxed throughout primary school (picture above) until the secondary school (Junior high/HS) mandate to cut it off,
- in majority of schools (especially public schools), girls from Primary school onwards had to cut their hair and wear a TWA or else you were punished or your hair shaved in school,
- this practice was not enforced on those who were biracial,
- I did not become aware (as it were) of any problems with the aforementioned practice until I traveled to other countries, and
- we all have some “cultural baggage” in one way or another. Yes, even those who might be considered exempt i.e. white or biracial people. Side note: In Daniel Silva’s (my favorite writer of all time!) book The Rembrandt Affair, there is a character who is plagued by his father’s activities during the Nazi regime. He could never live it down because everyone judged him by his father’s actions. This is to say we all have things we have to contend with either out of choice or forced upon us.
This having been said, it is by having discussions like these are we able to delve into our differing experiences to determine that which unites us. If it is our new found/ renewed love for our hair in it’s natural state, then by all means let’s celebrate that!