Monday, August 12, 2013

More Papers for The Journey: Hair Story - the inside look!

In my search for answers about why I'm so in love with my fabulous kinky tresses, I read a book entitled: The Hair Story (Untangling the roots of black hair in America) by Ayana D. Byrd and Lori L. Tharps. I LOVED this book! It really grounded me to why the emphasis on hair is so pronounced in black culture.  Head hair is a HUGE part of how we identify ourselves and can expose so many interesting things about who we are as human beings.

Ayana D. Byrd and Lori L. Tharps Hair Story
Come with me as I share the origin of MY hair love.  Let's start in a West African village where hair can tell the marital status, mourning stage, age, level of wealth, religion, rank and ethnic identity of a person.  You thought Patti LaBelle's towering razor blade styles of the eighties was intricate! Pah! Patti didn't have nothing on those women in the village! Braids, twists, beads, dyes, decorating with woven fabric..... the creativity in those hairdresser's fingertips was never ending.  Any of these techniques sound familiar? Single source oils were used such as shea butter and coconut oils.  Combs were fashioned out of wood and it would take hours or days to complete certain styles.  Sound familiar?  The role of the village hairdresser was one of honor.  Because most tribes believed a person's spirit resided in their hair, these women held a special place in society. They were considered to be the most trustworthy.  Sound familiar?

Once on the slave ship, all identity was stripped by cutting off the captive's hair.  The occupation as a slave determined how the hair was worn. Women and men who worked in the field had unkempt hair and would only think about "fixing" it when Sunday rolled around. Most days it was covered with a rag.  Slaves that worked in the house as maids, cooks, barbers, etc had styles more like their White owners.  Styles at this time were a combination of African traditions, European influence and Native American practices.  This is when the brainwashing began.  Kinks and coils were considered ugly and black people began to use means to change their hair texture to be more like the mainstream.  Sound familiar? 

A certain level of brainwashing is still going on today!  The good part is that we are more empowered to release our natural curls into the atmosphere.  By relishing in the kinks and capitalizing on the versatility of styles we can express our freedom and love for who we are!!

I have more to share because the story is no where near being over! I hope you are as enlightened as I was! My hair roots are intricate.  My hair speaks for who I am as an individual and represents my community.  My hair routines originate from my African roots.  I am astounded that even though my ancestor's identities were compromised and traditions were lost, the hair roots stayed in the ground.

Stay tuned for the rest of the Story!


Peace and love,