My hair doesn’t define who I am! My hair doesn’t say I’m not qualified! My hair does not say I’m a rebel. My hair says I am who I am and that I am African American. I was raised to love who I am. I have always loved my hair. It was always long, thick and black. From a toddler, my mother has always told my sisters and me that we are beautiful. Not to sound conceited, but we are.
I can remember when I was probably between the ages of eight and ten. Someone was always making a comment about my hair. Those comments were never derogatory. The one thing I didn’t like about my hair was that when I got old enough to style it myself I couldn’t. From the sixth grade all the way through high school I had to rely on my oldest sister, Precious, or my younger sister, Lisa to style my hair every morning before getting on the bus to go to school. And if one of them were mad at me for some reason, I was going to have to tackle my head myself. I guess I was never really in tune with the needs of my hair. I was more concerned with how my big, crooked feet looked in my shoes more than anything else. At that age I had it backwards. I actually thought my feet defined who I was.
When I was in Abu Dhabi this past February, I came to the realization that my hair does define who I am. I saw many women, young and old, of color who were proud of their rich heritage. I don’t know what country they originated from, but they walked tall, heads held high and their hair was not Americanized. I am American and with all the “Natural Girls Rock” campaigns you would think we, as an American race, would not stereotype or define a person by the way their hair is naturally. LET ME SAY THAT AGAIN….. “N.A.T.U.R.A.L.L.Y”! It is who we are. It is who I am.
Why does some of white America define who we, me, or should I say, I am before getting to know WHO I AM first? You like who I am on paper. (My resume) But wait until I walk through the door. Look at her hair…..”She’s too Black! Maybe we can find someone the customer can connect with.” My hair, natural hair, closed many doors for me. I was very qualified for the job, but my natural hair was not getting me the job. I wanted to see exactly what would happen if I gave in to the “creamy crack”. (Sodium hydroxide hair relaxers) So I relaxed my hair and on another interview, with the same person, I was hired. Yes, hired just like that. I’m not saying that this is the case for all African American women. All I’m saying is this how it happened to me and for me.
Twenty days in the United Arab Emirates was very enlightening. I am on a new journey with my hair and I am so excited to see what lies ahead. I am inspired by my baby sister, Lisa. She had been natural for six plus years and has no problem cutting it off and starting all over again. I admire her for that. I want to tell you that my hair does define who I am. My hair says I am qualified! My hair says I am as beautiful as the day my mother told me I was. My hair is who I am. I love my hair and always have.
The look that got me the job (relaxed hair)