The Politics of Black Hair – Part II

In our previous discussion on the politics of natural hair, we talkedMelissa Harris-Perry about politicians’ and their spouses’ hair. Today we look at the “natural hair movement,” as highlighted by MSNBC commentator Melissa Harris-Perry (love her!), who’s known for her long twists–not locks/dreads (as referred to by my Caribbean bredrens). The videos are included further below.

During the June 10th episode of her show, Harris-Perry interviewed a group of well-known and intelligent, natural haired women. The panel included actress and newly natural gal, Nicole Ari Parker, as well as blogger Nikki Walton of CurlyNikki. Hair-raising highlights and facts include:

  • Fact: Black hair care products have totaled $185M
  • Fact: In 2011, 36% of black women did not straighten their hair (via perms)
  • In regards to the “natural hair movement,” Nikki Walton says, “It’s about empowering textured women.”
  • A shout out to Hair Rules’ salon by Nicole Ari Parker (love her hair and applaud her for going natural). I can’t speak for the salon, but Hair Rules’ Quick Curls has been a life saver for my wash and gos thus far.
  • Fact: In 2006-2011, sales of hair relaxers dropped by 17%.
  • Anthea Butler of the University of Pennsylvania describes the “tumble weaves of hair in Harlem.”  I nearly died hearing her describe this. Having worked right by Harlem, I am familiar with the many beauty supply stores … and tumbling strands of “good hair!”
  • How our fathers’ (and men in general) acceptance of us has a lot to with our own acceptance of our hair. How many times have you second guessed a natural ‘do because you weren’t sure if your significant other or the powerful male figure in your life would approve of it?

I think the interview was spot on. Melissa Harris-Perry gave kudos to all the black women who proudly sported their majestic curly manes well before it was the hip thing to do. I second that emotion and give credit to Angela Davis, Diana Ross, Donna Summer, and all the trailblazing women in that category.

Perhaps next time Harris-Perry can conduct a follow-up in-depth analysis on why so many black women are currently choosing to embrace their natural hair (blame it on the recession, the influx of natural hair resources, or our new-found love of our hair?). It would be interesting if we compared and contrasted this with our Caucasian curly girls and their relationship with their textured hair. They have a journey as well.

That’s my two cents but what are your thoughts on this coverage? Check out the videos below.

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