I’m not here with questions today, M.O.M. Squad. Questions that I hope you will help me find the answers to.
When it comes to trends in pop culture and social events, I am usually the last person to find out. Mommy and parenting business though? Pshaw! I’m all over that. If there is a cartoon or a sippy cup involved, I know where it’s at, where it’s gonna be and how it’s going down. Grown folks business? Not so much. That can be the only explanation for the total mortification I experienced when I discovered that there is an anti-4C bias in the natural hair community. I have been out of the loop for waaaay too long.
If this post sounds like total nonsense to anyone outside of the Black-o-sphere and Natural Hair Movement, don’t worry. Your hearing is not flawed. It IS nonsense. Nevertheless, I think we must discuss this because I just don’t understand how/where/why it was allowed to happen!
A few weeks ago, a new acquaintance invited me to a hair show in Atlanta. I assumed she was referring to Taliah Waajid’s World Natural Health & Beauty Show, which I attend faithfully annually.
“No, this is a new show by 4C Hair Chicks. It’s the weekend before Taliah’s,” my acquaintance said. “I’m one of the volunteers. Are you on Instagram? It’s called Kinky Hair Unlocked. Here’s their page.”
I clicked on this link and was pleasantly surprised. It’s always nice to have options when it comes to hair care and events. I thanked her and went home to study the event in more detail.
The Kinky Hair Unlocked (KHU) event differs from Taliah Waajid’s (TW) in two very distinct ways. First, KHU is purely focused on hair education, set in a series of seminars for one evening. TW is completely consumer driven and is more like a market with lots of different vendors. While KHU says there will be some products for sale, selling hair potions and accessories is not their primary aim. Their primary aim is to educate women who have rejected the use of chemical relaxers in their hair. Second is the price point. The entry fee to Taliah Waajid’s even is $10. The price of general admission to Kinky Hair Unlocked will leave your pockets $45 lighter.
Each show has its merits and serves consumers with particular needs; but I have to confess I was troubled by the impetus for the KHU show, whose mission reads (in part) as follows:
Kinky Hair Unlocked is the solution for women with kinkier textures who have felt left out of the natural hair community when it comes to product development, imagery and education on how to care for their unique textures. It is a one-of-a-kind hair care symposium geared toward educating women on how to achieve maximum length and healthy hair from their scalp to their ends.
Hiehn? Warrenthis? Why would women who have kinkier textures feel “left out of the community”? I mean, isn’t the entire community made up of people with “kinky” hair anyway? The mission statement opened my eyes to certain trends I had ignored – or had been blind to, honestly – for a long time. Suddenly, I was seeing rejection of 4C hair everywhere.
Here is a visually aid of human hair types to help as we discuss this type of discrimination and the struggle.
People of European/Asian ancestry typically have hair types 1 & 2. Middle Eastern hair is typically between a 2 & 3. Folks of African descent usually fall somewhere between a 3 & 4. Then of course there are mixed race people who can experience all 4 hair types all at once. Now that we are all on one accord, let’s continue!
Someone posted this video on my friend’s wall without comment. I snickered when I watched it and kept my cynical feelings bottled up. Of course the dude didn’t have a problem with her hair. It’s gorgeous anyway! It turns out I was not alone in cynicism.
I went to Twitter to investigate. Black Twirra is like a well. It’s where people come to vomit all their painful truths and where the world can draw knowledge from. Here’s a sampling of what I found.
Again, how did this happen? Could it be that even in our “natural hair pride”, too many of us still harbor European standards for beauty? Like, you can be Black, but not THAT Black. Like no, really. Your frizzy hair is holding the race back. Can’t you do something about that? That doesn’t look “natural” enough. You know what? Maybe you’re one of the ones who should be getting a perm… or some locks. Put that 4C away in some locks and then it will look respectable. Because apparently, this is the WORST thing that could happen to a sistah:
Seriously, how did we allow discrimination against a certain type of natural hair become an actual “thing”? Jesus be a hot oil treatment and fix this!