The Gift of Afro-Textured Hair
It sickens me to even repeat the hate speech parading as music in Nikki Minaj's song "Stupid H**" which includes the line "little nappy headed h*** need a perminator," but I do so in order to demonstrate the ubiquity of hair-bullying against women and girls of African descent. The bullying occurs in the media when Don Imus or hip hop artists use such abusive language. It occurs on television talk shows where straight hair is consistently presented as the beautiful, worthy, sexy and attractive hair, while curly, kinky, bushy and or frizzy hair is presented as the hair that needs fixing. Bushy hair is usually the "before" photo and rarely the "after" photo. We live in a society where racism is often subtle, consisting of such micro-aggressions that collectively attempt to kill black women's spirits.
But this type of hair-bullying is not just present in the media. It is present in our homes as learned self-hatred manifests in comments to little girls with looser textures that they have "pretty hair," while little girls with kinkier hair textures are told that they have "bad hair." Moreover, it manifests into physical abuse as mothers put toxic chemicals on the hair of children barely out of diapers in order to have their daughters avoid the scorn that Blue Ivy endured.
How Do We Overcome This Hair-Bullying?
My fable, Sunne's Gift: How Sunne Overcame Bullying to Reclaim God's Gift, is about overcoming bullying in order to step into one's true power to illuminate the world. In my new multi-media series entitled The Gift, I will speak to thought leaders about strategies for overcoming various types of bullying in order to reclaim "the gift."
My first topic is hair-bullying as it relates to afro-textured hair. I had the pleasure of speaking to Lurie Favors, the genius behind the book and blog Afro-State of Mind, and she provided a four step process to overcome hair-bullying with respect to afro-textured hair. Here is my summary of the steps outlined by Lurie Favors.
Step 1: Educate Yourself
The hair-bullying is not rooted in any inherent idea that afro-textured hair looks ugly. Clearly, afro-textured hair looks absolutely beautiful. Just check out Afros: A Celebration of Natural Hair. The hair-bullying is rooted in a white supremacist culture that aims at making anything and everything associated with Africans and black people bad in order to justify slavery, colonization and the economic/physical domination of people of African descent. How else would perfectly normal people engage in the horrors of slavery in the past or racist aggressions today? Propaganda had to be created to convince otherwise nice people that Africans were hardly people and that African skin and African hair were unworthy. Similarly, during Nazi Germany, wicked propaganda was spread about the Jews and anything associated with Jews. How else would perfectly normal German people murder their Jewish neighbors? Reading history will allow anyone to understand this ploy for what it is.This glorious afro is nothing but gorgeous! Courtesy of Michael July's AFROS: A Celebration of Natural Hair featuring Karen Tappin
Step 2: Paradigm Shift
Once you have realized the ploy, it is time to think back to what life was like prior to the birth of white supremacy. Pre-slavery and colonization, were black women in Africa bemoaning their hair? Were they looking for berries or chemicals to make their hair bone straight? Absolutely not! They used products and wide toothed combs to engage in styles such as afros, braids, cornrows, thread wraps, shaved designs and locs. They did not view their afro-textured hair through a straight-haired lens. It's time to get back to that celebration and the African-centered or Afro state of mind that enabled the celebration.
Step 3: Be Vigilant
The hair-bullying might still be present in the world unfortunately. That said, you must remain vigilant with respect to the images and words that you allow into your sacred mental and emotional space. You must surround yourself with support and affirmation of your beauty and the beauty of your hair through what you read and who you are around. Websites such as Afro State of Mind, Tribe Called Curl, My Natural Reality, NaturallyHappyHair.Com, Boston Naturals, 4C Hair Chick and Locs Revolution will help. Avoid mainstream magazines that do not respect your beauty. Avoid "hair porn" featuring looser textures of hair. Avoid media, music and individuals who denigrate you.
Step 4: Organize
The natural hair movement must go beyond hair tips. It must go beyond simply reacting to stories of hair-bullying such as the stories of Vanessa Van Dyke, Tiana Parker, Rhonda Lee, Tiffany Bryan and the army hair guidelines. The final step consists of forming effective organizations and coalitions that protect our social and economic interests. We must proactively teach mainstream culture and institutions that we have zero tolerance for hair-bullying.
Trust me, my time with Lurie was amazing. She is hilarious and we healed from our trauma through wonderful laugh therapy. See the video below. You will love it! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have an inherent gift for which you have been bullied and you would like to discuss it through my series. Check out my website at www.milestales.com to learn more about Sunne's Gift.