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Natural Hair to Be or Not to Be -The response

26 Nov 2005

I feel for you sista I really do, but instead of painting yourself as a victim you might like to stand in my size 8's for a minute.

I love being black and you won't find a person alive who can say otherwise. It manifests itself in the way I walk proud and distinguished but with that unmistakable sashay when I'm really feeling empowered. It would be impossible to think I was any other nationality but Black when you hear the content of my words and the passion that comes with them. I volunteer in Black associations, I support Black charities and yet hair seems to take some crazy precedence over any of these accomplishments. You see, it''s not natural hairstyles that are so vilified by the community it's the dreaded relaxer.

I am aware of all the historical reasons why relaxers have been shunned in the past and of Madam C.J. Walker's place in history. There have, are, and always will be some Blacks who equate straight hair with professionalism, looking "put-together", and being closer to and/or acceptable to white people. Then there are those who simply liken it to the woman''s ability to choose.

Some find our hair easier to manage when relaxed as though our hair is a special chore that needs to be straightened into submission and others want to celebrate it's kinks and coils as nature intended. Me? Sometimes I just like to play it straight once in a while. Just like I can go for months on end wearing only jeans. I can get into hair moods.

Kudos to you for never having had your hair permed and getting a lot of compliments for it. I've had my hair fried died and laid to the side, weaved up, corn-rowed down, I-Dream-of-Jeannie'd and beyond and I don't feel any less of a Black woman for it.

Frankly I'm tired of natural sista's acting like they are so superior to me because they've chosen to keep their hair in it's original state. I am not brainwashed by the media. I realize the significance of the Black-is-beautiful movement and yet when I get my druthers I still choose to relax my hair every couple of years/blue moon, whatever.

I do not relax because I aspire to whiteness, hate myself/my heritage, or find it inappropriate for my ascent to the corporate world. I've thought long and hard about the political issues surrounding my hair and decided that at the end of the day it's just a hairstyle. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

In 2005 I can acknowledge and come-correct about my politics and blackness without proving it through my hair. I can love myself and pump my fist in the air for the cause and not be wearing my natural hair—without irony.

I can't imagine that you chronically have Black women in shock and "awe" over your hair. I can see White people giving you the touch test and praising you for having the kind of hair that they always (insert sarcasm here) aspire to. But in a metropolitan and urban setting you say that only Black males are appreciative? Aww hell no! Where do you live/work/hangout? Where are these repressed sistas who glare at you for daring to wear natural hair? Where are these sexually stifled people that need to be unshackled from colonialism by washing the nap back into their hair? Sure natural hair has been shunned by the White media, but if you're saying that I cannot be truly free until I let my hair grow curly then you''re wrong. Maybe I'm just well adjusted, but I enjoy sexual liberation during all my various hair exploits.

I don't believe that the way I choose to wear my hair on any given day means they've won me over to the white side. I'm smarter and educated to know better than that. This is an old way of thinking and frankly one that's be retread so many times it''s bald and we all know what Black people think of baldness…

- Quinci Best, Toronto

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