For decades, many black people have tried to make society embrace their natural hair. Back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, black activists including the Black Panthers used their natural hair as a symbol of being politically aware, or “being woke.”
When I decided to go natural, I found out that the discrimination of kinky hair came from slave culture. Slave owners were seen as superior. Their skin color was the right skin color. Their hair was the right hair. Color has always been what divided African-Americans. Light skinned black people with “good” hair were in the house, while dark skin black people with “nappy” hair were outside. The term nappy was a derogatory term which separated our kinky hair from their straight hair. African-Americans were taught since the beginning of time that their hair was not good hair.
Now, natural hair is making a comeback. Jessie Hutley, a Roxbury resident, says, “Natural hair is making a comeback, so I had to go back to my roots.” Black women are wearing their natural hair more than ever. Singer Solange Knowles cut her hair and went natural in 2009, making her one of the first prominent figures in the natural hair movement. Viola Davis, the only black woman to be nominated for three Academy Awards, wore her natural hair to the 2012 Academy Awards rather than a wig, which is usually the norm for any red carpet event.
According to the global market research firm Mintel, hair relaxer sales have decreased $206 million, or 26 percent in the past five years, and they are still decreasing. Even with fewer hair relaxers being bought, there are still people in the black community who use hot combs and other straightening products.
With more people wearing their natural hair, there are more salons and events that specialize in natural hair. “Return to your Roots” is an annual event that advertises and admires natural hair, and in 2012, Boston hosted “Curls Gone Wild: Natural Hair and Health Expo” to feature natural hair care services and products. These events teach you how to maintain and love your natural hair.
There are also lot of YouTubers who post videos on maintaining natural hair. There are videos from daily routines to wash-and-gos to haircutting and hair styling. There are also Facebook pages that promote natural hair products and include tutorials on daily moisturizing routines.
Yvonne Dunkley, a 17-year-old senior at John D. O’Bryant High School, says, “Even though going natural is a whole process, you have to do a lot of moisturizing and protein treatments. It's really a lot, but at the end of the day my natural hair is bomb, and as a black female I need to embrace my hair in its natural state.”