A Boston charter school student, a student at a South African private school trying to take exams, a high schooler in Texas named Deandre Arnold, an elementary student in Seattle, and a New Jersey high school wrestler.
What do all of these young people have in common? All these young people have experience some form of texturism.
Before we can discuss the political matters behind black hair, I think it’s important that we define it. According to an article found on HuffPost titled, “The Missing Education On Black Hair”, Afro-textured hair is classified into five areas, all of which are different variations of curly hair. From looser curl patterns, to tight and kinky curl patterns.
In many cases it is implied that your hair texture is an inherent indicator of your overall superiority. In laymen’s terms, the looser (or straighter) the hair texture the more attractive, texturism.
In 2019, New York and California ban discrimination based on natural hairstyles. “The New York commission on Human Rights issued new guidance in February that banned discrimination on the basis of hair or hairstyle in work places, schools and public places.”, ( NYC Commission on Human Rights Legal Enforcement Guidance on Race Discrimination on the Basis of Hair)
Natural has been political since the beginning of time. From different tribes using natural hairstyles, braids, clay and beads as identifiers for rank, to enslaved mothers braiding rice into their children’s hair so that they wouldn’t go hungry, to braids that were maps to the Underground Rail Road.
The discrimination against Black-Hair has also been evident since the beginning of time and was seen as reasoning for enslavement of black and brown bodies. Europeans looked at black and brown people as animals who had wool for hair. Untamed and unfit the be people but more like live stock.
Even today we still see children, as well as adults being judged, or punished because they grow their natural black hair long. But why do so many people hate it? History shows us that America has always had an issue with black hair, but can we find the reasons in our lessons?
Black hair symbolizes life, nature and true love within self. Forcing black folks to cut their hair is just another way to suppress self-worth and self-love.
Never let society tell you how to love yourself. That’s only a job you can do.
Words by: Ericc Adkins