The natural hair movement has been a breath of fresh air. It has awakened a spirit in people of color here in America that we have not seen rival since the 60's when the afros they were symbolized something important. They represented a disdain for the status quo that refused to accept them whether they assimilated or not. They symbolized a desire to regain an attachment to a land and a culture many of them could only recall from words and images in a book. Those afros were a step in the direction of rediscovering their “Blackness”.
Now I will not naively propose that our battle for natural hair freedom has been won, not yet, but in the last decade especially, we have come a long way in gaining respect for the hair our African roots have blessed us with. One of the largest contributing factors were those afros. They were groundbreaking and laid a foundation that allows our kinks, curls, waves and locs to flow freely. But as history dictates, we tend to forget the small things that aid us in our quests and it pains me to see many of us in the natural hair community turn our noses up at the good ol 'fashioned afro.
I see the twist outs, the coils and the rod outs and I watch as our society drools over them, clamoring with determination to mimic their style no matter what their personal hair texture. And then I see a sister or brother proudly wearing their afro and I hear well intentioned souls questioning what they plan to “do” with their hair.
Styles come and go, fashion comes and goes and tastes change, yet wearing an afro seems to have the same effect on people, be they White or Black as it did 50 years ago. We must remember that it was not only the mainstream, white controlled media and population that labeled the afro an untamed, unkept and militant hair style, we were guilty of doing it to ourselves. In an obvious case of self preservation, many of our people chastised those who said no to the Lying devil and chose to wear their hair as nature intended. The desire to conform is nothing new but can be dangerous if you begin losing touch with who you are. The same thing is beginning to transpire in the natural hair community today. We will accept your natural hair as long as it is curly, not nappy. We like your natural hair as long as it is tame, not wild. We love black people, as long as they're not TOO black …
This separation is as dangerous as rich black / poor black syndrome, light skinned vs dark skinned and house negro vs field negro. It is all designed to drive a wedge into something that can be so beautiful. The closer we get to realizing and accepting our natural god given beauty that has radiated from us since the dawn of time, the closer we get to our promise of greatness. Division is what held people of color back for hundreds of years. How fitting would it be if something as “simple” as an afro, could ignite us the same way it did another generation.
Love = Balance, Balance = Love
– Tony B