Natural Hair and What I didn't Know I was Missing

Racialicious has a post up about throwback commercials from the soultrain days. ( Before you even say it, I am too young to remember soultrain Sparky)  I found myself replaying them a few times this morning.  Check them out.

I loved the eagle messing with her hair.  To me, it very much represents the oppression of Blackness by White supremacy.  And then there was:


That’s right, Frederick Douglas asserting that the natural is an outward expression of pride.

To be honest, even then, Black hair in its natural state was still considered a political statement by many. Natural hair, which was considered a huge part of the Black is beautiful campaign, quickly faded as Blacks went on to embrace the soul glo days (yeah, I went there, and the unhusband actually accidentally set my hair on fire as well.)

As I was watching the Afro Sheen commercials, it dawned on me that this is the first time I have seen a television ad for a product for natural hair.  I have seen the billboards for Caroll’s Daughter and watched as they shifted from dark skinned women, to light bright and damn near White women, but never have I seen television commercials with dark skinned people, actively celebrating their natural hair. That is a sad state of affairs really. In fact, were it not for the fact that I read African-American blogs, I wouldn’t even know about Caroll’s Daughter, or the shift in their advertising.  I suppose some of that can be explained by the fact that I am Canadian.  But since Black people are very much a part of this country, it really does not make sense that there are no ads specifically targeted to us when it comes to hair care.

Over time, I have become used to seeing black people selling everything from cars to diapers to McDonald’s and KFC (cause as well know chicken soothes the savage beast) When the ads are not outright racist, Black people are cast as the every person, with nothing to differentiate themselves from White people.  I suppose some would see this as progress, but what it really is, is a denial that White supremacy is still in full force. 

If seeing natural hair commercials could effect me so deeply, what would it mean to little Black girls who are continually judged regarding the state of their hair?  I remember as a young girl constantly being asked about my hair care rituals, and the looks of disgust I received,  as I would detail the oiling of my scalp, and the fact that I washed my hair once a week. I remember believing that relaxed hair was a sign that I had reached a certain level of maturity, and I solidly embraced the idea that to be beautiful one needed relaxed hair.  In time of course, I have let this go, but I know that natural hair continues to be seen as problematic by many.

I am tired of seeing White women orgasm in the shower from their shampoo and swinging their hair around like it’s God/dess’s gift to the universe.  I am tired of the absolute erasure period.  I am tired of having to struggle to find products that are good for my natural hair.  I am tired of these products costing an exorbitant amount.  In short, I AM TIRED.  People can claim we are post racial to the end of time, but the truth of the matter is that racial differences exist and probably always will exist.  If this didn’t continue to make White supremacy uncomfortable, Black hair would not be considered taboo or controversial today. Post racial my ass.

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