Most of us women who wear our natural hair proudly today are the generation that transitioned from being shamed for having 'nappy' hair, to being celebrated for our kinks and curls on movie screens and beauty magazines.
We saw Lupita Nyong’o being elected 'Most Beautiful Person' in 2014 with her short natural hair and melanin-rich skin. That means progress, right? We are aware of the change that we went through and so the victory of natural hairitage we are walking in today has a special place in our hearts.
However, as much as we wish that those natural discriminating years were completely behind us, unfortunately, there is still evidence of it around us!
So, the question is, how will the next generation experience finding their identity? How much of the burden we carried, will they have to endure? This blog explores how we can tackle this.
Natural hairitage discrimination
Only 5 years ago, students were banned from their high school in South Africa for wearing an afro. The Black hair community was in rage and protests broke out all over South Africa and in the Diaspora. The fact that girls could be expelled, banned from their school, and refused their right to education because of their hair was just unbelievable. The power of social media turned the story around and the local education authorities gave the Highschool 21 days to change its rules. So, did we win? Yes, we won but the fact that there had to be a fight in the first place is the actual problem.
Transitioning from being chained to freedom is exhilarating for the one being set free. However, is wearing our hair in its natural state a right, or does it feel like it’s a privilege and that we should be thankful for being able to wear our hair the way it grows out of our scalp?
The next generation
It's our job to teach our children the importance of understanding and learning to love their hair against all odds. It's our responsibility to install a sense of ‘humble’ pride that acknowledges our own individuality without thinking less of others.
It also doesn’t need to be political. It starts with pain-free washdays and age-appropriate hairstyles for school. We need to teach them how to manipulate their hair, take care of it and protect it.
Rejoicing over natural hair on a beauty cover or on the main character of a blockbuster is not enough anymore. We have celebrated those wins; we have gained that territory.
Now it is time to make natural hair awareness part of the education we provide our children. Repeat affirmations to your children, until it becomes part of who they are.
We often hear the phrase ‘it’s just hair’. Yes, it is hair. However, until every hair texture and every hair type are interchangeably beautiful, we still have quite a way to go.
The hairitage we pass down unto our children will determine how easy that walk will be for them. The only footsteps they will be able to follow are ours.
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