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Race and Hair: Do You Wear Your Hair Natural?

June 3, 2011

Appreciating Our Natural Hair

I am so happy to soon be witnessing a beautiful example of unity in diversity as demonstrated in my niece’s upcoming nuptials.   I was heartened by the unique respect for diversity that she and her fiance both live and breathe.  He is Indian and Hindu; she is Christian and African-American.  Yes, this is the same couple that is donating their wedding gifts to charity.  So it’s not their diversity alone that make them special, but their character.  I sat in awe at a recent dinner as my niece’s fiance expressed his knowledge of the plight of African American’s in history, his love for the natural texture of my niece’s hair, and his love and respect for both my niece and sister.

He was the one she explained that encouraged her to “go back natural.” She commented that while “going natural” that she had more challenges with people from within our own culture than from the outside.

What Does Hair Mean to You?

Last month I spoke to an audience in Florida at an event organized by 100 Concerned Black Women and the topic of hair came up.  My co-presenter Iris Cooper had cut off her hair and a lady in the audience who self reportedly had worn wigs most of her life challenged why she did it.  The next day the older lady came to a followup session dawning her own hair.  She recounted how freeing it was.  She somehow had felt she needed validation, permission, and acceptance to free herself.  She explained how all her life she was called ugly because of her short hair.  And, now there is another trend, cutting off our hair that we’ve taken so long to grow and  letting go of what “long hair” means.  How do you feel about cutting your hair off?   It appears that we’ve still got a lot of work to do before we get to the point that we realize that we don’t all have to look the same and can see our own naturalness as beautiful.  What does your hair mean to you? Does it represent beauty, culture, image, or identity.  Is it your crown or crowning glory?  Please comment and share “your hair story.”

I’m Barbara Talley, the poet who speaks and inspires.  To find out more about me check out: What Does Barbara Do? or visit  my website.

One Comment leave one →
  1. TheBlackTwig permalink
    June 3, 2011 9:51 pm

    I saw from Aljazeera news a docu about Hindus shaving their hair at temples and offering them to their gods. On the other hand, this is quite a business as movie stars and those who can afford are into hair extensions. I was thinking of writing about it: materialism, faith, sacrifice, beauty, all important aspects/values attached to it. Your post reminded me about this interesting topic. Thanks!

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