Does rocking a fro make us more socially conscious than others?

25 Nov 2009


I recently watched a natural-haired sista vlog about how annoyed she is with the myth that having natural hair makes one more socially conscious than those who opt out of this. She made this video after perusing websites that she felt were unnecessarily critical of women that chemically altered their natural hair texture. Aside from the comedic delivery of her argument, she was truly on to something: does rocking a fro make us more socially conscious than others?

It was quite a challenge to find a standard definition of what it means to be socially conscious; however Wikipedia defines social consciousness as “consciousness shared within a society.  To be aware of the problems that different societies and communities face on a day-to-day basis.”  Simplified, we can infer that individuals concerned with the societal implications of their actions are deemed socially conscious.  So let’s dissect this term as it relates to natural hair.  To satisfy this definition, persons with natural hair would opt to use certain products (i.e. they may use fair trade, vegan and/or organic products) and their hair care choices would add some value to the community to which they belong.

While I cannot speak for others, I do not think that wearing my hair natural has increased my level of social consciousness in comparison to when I chemically straightened my hair.  Let’s face it; I did not stop relaxing my hair because I thought the chemicals used were harmful to the environment.  And if my hair and scalp were strong enough to withstand the effects of sodium hydroxide, I would probably still be relaxing.  Since going natural, I do not necessarily seek out products that are organic or vegan and regrettably I am not always successful in my quest for fair trade products.  In the future, I hope that my life moves in a more socially conscious direction, however I cannot say that this desire was borne out of me wearing my hair natural.

Another statement that the vlogging sista made was that rocking natural hair “is not that serious” and that it does not make one “more black” than the next sista/brotha.  I totally agree that wearing my hair kinky does not make me more black than my relaxed kin, however I’m somewhat on the fence about it not being that serious.  Personally, wearing my hair in its natural state does not make me want to go out and join the Black Panther movement (or its modern day equivalent).  Yet given the historical context of Afro textured hair, I can sympathize and even empathize with naturals that are attempting to make a statement.  We’ve all been guilty of delighting ourselves in a nappy joke or two, thus perpetuating the idea that Afro textured hair is not acceptable.  So it’s understandable that some natural haired sistas/brothas are adamant when it comes to educating others on the beauty of our hair.

As I’ve stated in a previous article, I did not go natural because I was trying to start or join a movement.  Moreover, I have chosen to remain natural because I have become comfortable with this standard of beauty.  The life of a relaxed individual simply did not work for me, but I do not think I’m above individuals that choose to chemically alter their hair texture.  That said, we should all do what we do, let others do what they do and let’s all just keep it moving.

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