A Response – Why #TeamNatural is for Everyone, Not Just Black Women


BGLH writer Jc presents a different point of view about who deserves to be represented in the natural hair movement. Check it out;

Show of hands – Do you agree and advocate that there should be spaces reserved for black people to discuss thoughts and ideas central to our culture and that these spaces should be to the exclusion of other races? Yes, no, maybe? Now, substitute the word black with white in that first sentence and read it again, seriously do it now! Do you realise that we are discussing apartheid? If you believe that the principles of apartheid were racist, then when black people do it, it is also racist.

Now let me explain to why it is that I believe that we as the natural community should be inclusive and not exclusive:

1. We are individuals not a collective, a white girl could relate to your experience
It is absolutely not true that every black woman can identify with a journey to self love, some of us can’t. Some of us actually grew up being told that we were beautiful as we are and our hair was beautiful as it is. It is a very myopic point of view to think that black people as a collective have the same journey, we don’t, we are individuals.

Some white women would actually be able to identify with that journey to self love because, ‘Curly hair is generally not cute past the age of 10.’ These words came from my white friend who beat her curls into submission with daily blowouts and flat ironing for 20 years. Some black people are conditioned to think a type 3 curl is the ultimate aka good hair, while some white girls are taught that poker straight hair is the ultimate good hair and their type 3 curls are ugly.

The reason why some #teamnatural stories resonate across the board is because it is not about race. It is about the ability to empathise as human beings to see how damaging it can be to be pounded down with a message that you are not good enough as you are.

2. Those who can teach!
Ultimately the nucleus of the natural community is hair. We celebrate and advocate for the beauty of natural hair Do you recall posts such as these white dads who really can do hair – here and here or the white mom who doesn’t want her black daughters hair touched – here . Many white moms and dads who have black or mixed race children will be right here trying to learn and do what is best for their children.

I have an elephant’s memory and I can recall on the old blogspot version of this blog where curly girl YSheena was originally featured and a white mom asked how she could get her daughter’s frizzy hair that she was considering chemically straightening to look like Ysheena’s which was ‘pretty and curly’. Commenters tore this lady to pieces and she of course disappeared. This predatory knee jerk reaction fails to educate and if you ever have the opportunity to, you should educate first, condemn last. How many black mothers have done the same?

I want an inclusive space because I advocate for children. Children with non-black parents who are keen on learning deserve a welcoming space both for parent and child. Exclusion is a disservice to the parents and the children.

3. Practice what you preach
If you find a natural site, you will almost always find articles about lack of acceptance of natural hair by others in the community, white and non white for example:
Case of the doctor perpetually insulting the patient’s natural hair
Case of the guy with locs who dislikes his girlfriend’s natural hair
Case of the boss who said her natural hair looked like a troll doll

It would surprise some of you but many of these comments are said not in blatant racism but usually in ignorance. Ignorance that natural hair is actually the default and most ‘normal’ version of your hair. My husband who is white actually thought that black people mostly had straight hair. If you grew up in his home town where there was exactly 1 black girl, and the imagery you received from TV was all relaxed hair and weaves, what would you think?

Natural hair is not mainstream despite the explosion of the natural world and in all honesty it is not going to be unless we begin to tell our stories to the mainstream which happens to be white if you live in North America and Europe. If you want acceptance, you need to start accepting others into your clique otherwise why should they care about your stories, how would they see their poignancy and relevance?

The Conclusion : Since I started this piece with an apartheid reference, I will end it with some wise words that I liberated from the eternal sage Nelson Mandela, ‘ To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.’