Hello, hi. Welcome back guys.
I really wanted to do a black history month special but I was stuck on what to speak on. I had already done the whole black platforms thing (find that here) and already wrote about my experience as a Black Brit for The Move Hub (find that here). Then, I just decided to get rid of the idea all together but soon realised I actually had the perfect topic. Something that all black girls can relate to and it hit right before the end of our dedicated month.
My hair has been a topic of conversation a lot recently, and that’s probably because I’m constantly in spaces where it’s new for the people around me. However, I am exhausted. I’m tired of having to constantly be the educator when my hair was never intended to be a lecture topic. I just switched up my look because I was bored. Simple, not because I wanted to draw attention or make some kind of political statement.
I didn’t mind in the past when my hair came up because it genuinely didn’t come up often. The one, two comments weren’t enough to shake my spirit. However, recently? It’s happening just enough to grind my gears and I cannot. I was speaking to my friends recently about black people infiltrating spaces that ordinarily weren’t designed for us. I was on the whole idea of “we block our blessings by not entering these spaces because we don’t want to be a spectacle, we don’t want to be the one that has to deal with these comments”. My friend had an entirely different perspective of “it’s not by force for you to be the first”. I feel that one now on a spiritual level because having to be the one to deal with all these comments? Yeah, I’m not here for it.
Our first little incident was in my lecture and my lecturer (yes, my lecturer) felt the need to question me about how the braids on my head were done, how much it costs and if it hurts my head. All during the middle of a class. Ordinarily, this would have annoyed me but not too much. The issue here is that it just wasn’t the time nor the place. The lecturer put me in such an awkward place where I was in front of about 30-40 students educating a grown man with a PhD about black hair in a lecture hall. It was embarrassing and not my job.
I think it’s even more so a shock for me because I’ve always been surround by black power vibes. My secondary school was predominantly black, my sixth form was the same as well my university for undergrad. Being a minority minority isn’t something I’ve experienced before and adjusting is proving to be difficult. I could have a wig on Monday, cornrows on Tuesday, a cheeky head wrap on Wednesday and then a wig to finish off the week with no one batting an eyelash. Now, I want to switch up my braids to a wig and I know it’s going to cause a commotion.
Moving on to the second incident. This one was actually in the workplace and has happened several times. I’ve probably seen it all and I haven’t been there long so this isn’t look too great for the kid. I’ve had a situation where I’ve turned around to a coworker holding one of my braids in her hand, inspecting it. I had to have a whole conversation about how she can’t do that without permission and now I’m thinking to myself…why should I have had to tell her that? My hair is in my personal space so why would doing that be ok in any circumstance without asking the person first?
Yes, yes she was.
I’ve also had a coworker say “I have to ask, is that all your real hair?” to which I do my rehearsed “teehee” and say “no, they’re braids”. The issue with this one? You don’t have to ask. This is not a burning question that requires an answer and your life will be perfectly fine without knowing for sure. My hair and I can exist cohesively without any questions but ultimately, I know this statement here is incorrect. In an ideal world, of course. I’d love it. However, I have to be realistic and this just isn’t the way the cookie crumbles. I’m going to constantly meet people who feel entitled to an explanation on the history and flexibility of my hair. To make it worse, I’m going to constantly feel like they require an answer when in actuality? They don’t. I can happily cut the conversation short and say “google is free” but you never want to be that “angry black woman” so here I am.
Back at square one
The one bittersweet thing about all of this, is just how many black girls around the world can relate. Despite the situation being absolutely trash, it’s definitely a bonding factor for a lot of us. I went to a postgraduate mixer night and the number of black girls that had stories similar to mine was terrible, but in that safe space, among people you knew could relate? It was a story you told your mates and then laugh about later. We don’t think about how trash it feels in that moment, and instead the episode is rewritten as just that, a story to tell your friends.
Black people always find a way to flip a bad situation into a good one. I think that’s a great skill to have in life and most definitely one of many things I love about being a black queen. So yeah, in conclusion, I’m tired of my hair generating conversation but I also wouldn’t change it for anything. I had originally titled this post “I Am Not My Hair” (word to India Arie) but I’m happy to be my hair. My hair and I are one and it’s something I’m proud can represent me and my personality so vividly. Not many races have that and for that I’m grateful.
Happy black history month lads! In spite of it all, I’m not trading this blackness for anything. We lit baby!
with all my love,