Don’t Forget Each Other: Thoughts on Changes in the Natural Hair Movement

by Cherekana F.

The Natural Hair Movement is changing. We feel it, we sense it, and we’re angry about some of the changes taking place. As we should. In a lot of ways, the Natural Hair Movement is becoming more mainstream and whitewashed and Black women are becoming a less visible image of the movement.

But perusing and reading through numerous comment sections and some articles and videos on the matter, I get a sense that we are blaming each other for the mainstream takeover, citing among other reasons,  that it’s because Black women do not love ourselves enough, as if we somehow do not deserve to keep the movement that we created.

(Self)-love has nothing to do with it. It’s about money, racism, colorism and our history in the USA. Whenever we produce something that becomes popular and profitable, there WILL be an attempt to take it, repackage it, remove us from the equation and make it more palatable for the mainstream. Do not kid yourselves into thinking that this mainstream takeover is happening because some wanted to rock twist outs while others wanted “curl definition”. Nah. The takeover attempt was going to happen regardless. It’s been done over and over and over again with or without our permission. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. And it is always painful and upsetting to watch. The Natural Hair Movement is no different. But as we process the pain we’ve started looking for reasons to explain why it happened and that reason has become Black women. And as a result, it seems like we’re putting a magnifying glass up to and scrutinizing our every flaw and insecurity. And we do not deserve that. The white-washing of the movement is a reflection of a problem that Black women did not create but have fought tirelessly against for centuries. The last thing we need to do is blame each other for it.

Do not forget each other. Black women were the ones making the natural hair products in our kitchens, writing the hair articles, doing mini science experiments on our own hair and sharing the results. Some of us even took the textbook scientific approach to researching Black haircare. We were the ones who created the blogs and held space for each other to discuss, debate, vent, and encourage. We recorded, edited, and posted the videos. We formed the meet-ups, and discussed how to raise our daughters to love their hair and ensure that our men did the same. And some of us even fought the military ban on natural hair. Ya’ll? We went up against the military. The. Military.  So if they want to (try) to remove us from the movement, just know that it wasn’t because we didn’t love ourselves enough.

This crossroads could be a good time to recall our intentions for becoming part of the Natural Hair Movement (many of us were part of it before it was even called a “movement”) and reassess our cultural and aesthetic values. Don’t support businesses that you personally feel are in it for a buck.  Rather, support those who are committed to keeping this movement for Black women, especially some of the veterans, whether it’s a particular product line or YouTuber or blogger.

Let’s keep creating and expanding the movement on our own terms both here and abroad. And although corporations and mainstream culture will try to erase us and forget us, let’s not do that to each other.

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