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HHCB: Know your hair & Love your hair

How well do you know the history of African American hair? Just Madame CJ Walker? There is more to it.

When people ask you why you are going natural it can be impressive to have some more information to throw their way that highlights our history. Not everyone will appreciate it but I found this information interesting enough to share.

Among Afro-textured individuals there are differences in texture and thickness of hair. Some utilize typing systems to distinguish the differences while others just opt to use descriptive terms. However, there is a meaning behind the difference in textures. Historical research claims that the hair texture of African-Americans stems from the body's evolution and attempt to address the need of protecting the head from the sun's strong UV rays in Africa. Centuries ago hair was used as a way to define identity and status among Africans. Hair groomers, although not paid, during that time were held in high regard and the craft of styling hair was passed down from mothers to daughters. In the past black soap, shea butter, palm oil, and argan oil were common products used on hair. (Sound familiar?)

Sadly the birth of the slave trade also birthed the beginning of self hate. Slaves were made to feel that their hair was messy, ugly, and unacceptable. As a result, slaves began to look for new ways to make their hair more acceptable. Things such as engine oil, kerosene, and cook grease were used on the hair in an attempt to make it look more acceptable in the eyes of others. There was actually a time in history in which afro-textured hair was outlawed; in public women with afro-textured had to cover their hair with a scarf.

Years later (and many hair care practices later) Madame CJ Walker came along and saved the day - so to speak - with her sulfur based products. Many African-Americans were losing hair because of the unsafe hair care practices that were happening within the African-American communities. A few decades after Walker's death the black power movement came around and afros became a symbol of power and pride. Even some of our parents had afros :)

Trends change and those trends also involved preferred hairstyles:
Heat Straightening
Jherri Curls
and now our natural texture becoming more and more accepted.

The history of black hair is long and can fill a book. This post barely skims the surface, there is so much more. The part of our history that stuck out for me was the moment in time in which our natural texture was illegal. The things we take for granted....

I feel that I have to say: Having relaxed hair does not mean that you have turned your back on your culture. Times advance & change and it is unreasonable to expect people to stay the same.

Do Blacks Need to Relax Their Natural Hair to Get Promoted?
For many black women, hair tells the story of their roots

Have you learned anything about the history of afro-textured hair that stuck with you? 
Please share.