Living and Loving in Naptivity

“There are days when I wake up, look in the mirror and get so frustrated with my hair. Whenever he hears me in the bathroom fussing with my hair I’ll hear a ‘click!’…and when I turn around Mario is taking a picture of it. He loves everything about it: the texture, the curl, the coils. He just loves everything about my natural hair.”

Mario, my friend’s fiancé and natural hair lover is part of a growing minority – a small number of men who actually like “natural” or unrelaxed hair. (Permed hair isn’t imitation after all, is it?) As intriguing as this is, what fascinates me more about Mario is that he’s not some ‘down brotha from around the way’; he’s a white guy straight off the boat from Germany.

I – I just have never heard of such. Clearly I need to get out more.

I know white guys and black women pair up all the time, but it’s rare that that black woman has the qualities that my friend possesses…namely a PhD and a TWA (teenie weenie afro). I have two cousins that have married white men, but they’re light skinned and bear more resemblance to Beyonce than India Arie. My experience led me to the assumption that if White men DID date outside their race, they would naturally gravitate towards our caramel colored sisters and away from the chocolate chip batch; and therefore towards the ones with straighter hair. My generation and those before have been taught that our natural hair wasn’t good enough for the boardroom or the runway, and it certainly wasn’t sexy enough for the bedroom. ‘Sexy’ hair is long and shoulder length with barrel curls. ‘Professional’ hair is straight and side-parted, tucked behind the ears. So again, Mario fascinates me.

My friend recounted several stories of adversity and defeat that her hair has brought her in the past. Her coils coupled with her pursuit of higher education have run off many a potential paramour and vanquished relationships in their infancy. She told me of numerous occasions where she’d be out on a date after being fixed up by friends, only to have her companion looking past her at some blond dainty girl at the table behind her. On one occasion, another guy left her standing on the floor of a club into the waiting arms and gyrating hips of 2 white girls without so much as an ‘excuse me’!

“Why are Black men so scared of women with PhDs,” I asked with irritation.

“Oh, it’s not just them,” she replied. “There was a FINE white guy who  I started chatting with in a bar and the moment I said I was in school getting my PhD he let out a loud “WHOA!!!”, took a swig of his beer and walked off without another word.”

She laughed and continued.

“I even had one friend who said I must stop telling men I was getting my PhD because it was ruining my social life.”

Interestingly enough, I saw this Youtube video three nights ago that discussed this very topic. Sometimes I can’t believe this is STILL an issue, but I appreciated the honesty from a man’s perspective.

I’ve never really understood this whole thing with Black women’s hair, and I really, really want to. How is it that something that grows out of my scalp, if left untreated, is somehow a political statement? Or that if I don’t go for bi-monthly reapplications of Dark n’ Lovely I somehow disdain Black men who date white women? Indeed, that has been insinuated by many a brother whose first words to afro’d and twisted sisters is ‘Oh…you’re one of them natural girls, huh?’ If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of that utterance, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

I have always been an advocate for Black women dating outside the race, and Mario is exactly the reason why. There are gorgeous, intelligent Black women languishing and wasting their lives away waiting for their ‘Black love,’ when really they need to be looking for ‘pure love.’ Pure love values and respects the handiwork of God, regardless of the hue of our skin or the heft of our follicles. It certainly appreciates an expanded mind, rather than fearing it. Pure love certainly isn’t jealous. Now that my friend is engaged, she is approached by all kinds of Black guys who previously wouldn’t give her the time of day. The idea that a ‘natural sister’ would consort with a white man confounds them, apparently.

“ ‘Ey shawtey, ‘ey. What you doin’ with him?” they ask with swagger. “Why don’t you come home with me?”

Come home with you? What on earth for?

When oh when will my people break free of the bonds of naptivity!?