It’s not Black and White: Lets hair about it!

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Photo Illustration by Maddy Truka

Looking at black hair, there is more value and meaning than what the eye may see.

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Before we begin, we would like to share a small disclaimer with you. Just because we are primarily discussing race relations between Black and white, does not mean we don’t believe that other race oppression exists. We are coming at this from a personal perspective, but our hope is that as we grow, we can widen the conversation. Our hope is not to offend, but to educate and we are still learning ourselves. Anyone story shared in today’s episode was asked with permission and was given the option of anonymity. Any music played in this episode is from Pixabay.com or Anchor.

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Alrighty guys before we get into our Q&A, I would just like to mention that today’s recording is going to be just me and the next episode will be just Zoe so stay tuned for that in the upcoming months. 

Our first question today of the Q&A is, “What different kinds of hair types are there? Like how white people have curly or straight, is it the same for people of color?” 

So, there are a lot of different hair types for Black hair and it goes by numbers, 3C 4A, 4C and so on. Personally I have 4C hair which is like this short/straight/curly puffy hair, it’s hard to explain but I would say that’s just the main difference. There are so many different types of hair types for people of color but that’s what makes it so unique because you have so much to learn and you’re using all these different products to learn what really works for your hair.

Moving on, “Does hair grow the same?”

I am going to say yes just because all hair obviously grows, but I guess it really does depend on how well you take care of your hair. Typically with Black hair, you do have to do more to it for it to be the way that you want it, or to be as healthy as a person would like it, so that really does have a huge part in it, taking care of it. I did not take care of my hair at all and I straightened it constantly and constantly and that caused heat damage and I lost my edges, lost my hair and my hair stopped growing so you know it’s all on how you take care of your hair. It’s different for every person.

“At what age do kids start adding extensions and such to their hair?”

There’s not really an age that kids start adding extensions or getting hair added to their hair. I believe that it depends on the family, the parents like the mother and the daughter specifically just because with the way the world is today, you tend to see little girls under the age of 10 getting hairstyles already, not extensions but getting the braids or the feed in braids and so on.  So, there’s not really an age where kids start to do it. I have a four-year-old cousin and she already has gotten hair added to her but it’s what her mom wants so it just depends on the parent.

“How much money do you spend on hair each month? Is there an age where parents feel it’s more acceptable?”

The second question is almost the same thing as the last one. There really is not an age. I know every parent is different. My dad never liked me getting hair added to my hair, but my mom didn’t care. She didn’t care and she thought it was a great way to grow my hair, so once again it depends on how they feel. And as far as how much money you spend on hair month, I personally do not get my hair done every month just because it’s not something that I want to do every month. I don’t mind doing my hair sometimes because I can learn more about my hair by doing it myself, and also giving it a break from adding things to my hair. But I have my hair done now and it’s been three to four weeks and I spent $145 on the hairstyle that I have now. The price for the hair itself is $130, but there is a $15 traveling fee, so that was the total, but I do know that I have friends that get their hair done every month, or every couple of weeks. But that’s their preference. It depends on the person and how often you really want to get your hair done. Once again, I personally don’t like getting my hair done all the time because getting your hair done, depending on what hairstyle you want,takes a while and you have to make sure that the person doesn’t cancel at the last minute, and if you don’t have a constant hair person. So it all depends on the person once again. 

I like this question! “Is hair as important for males as it is for females?”

I hope it is. I hope it is, I want it to be because you know you can look good with your clothes and your shoes and your personality, but taking care of yourself, is just as important and that includes your hair. So, I want to believe that hair is as important as it is to females because I’m sure they care about their appearance, just like we do, so they want to make sure that they look good when they leave the house, or when they’re going somewhere. That will be a good question to ask my friends, and I’m curious myself because I can’t answer that since I am a female and not a boy.

“Do the braids hurt because of the weight?”

I would say at the beginning. I want to say the beginning when you first get your hair done. So when I got my hair first done, and once again 3 to 4 weeks ago, she was doing my hair and she was adding it [the hair] in and personally, I didn’t feel anything. I was just sitting there, I was chilling, but when she left and she was done and I was trying to put it in a ponytail and I was trying to get it out of my face, I could feel the weight. I could feel the tension against my scalp and I was like, ‘Oh whoa. I can’t do this right now’ because when your hair is just freshly done, you honestly have to give it a minute for your head to get used to it and get comfortable with it but it can hurt. A time where it also hurt and caused a headache because of the weight, it was when I got it wet while swimming. You can get your hair wet when you have braids in and everything but I personally say don’t do it just because it is a lot of weight once you get it wet and they take a while to dry so it’s just a lot to deal with if you get it wet. 

This is a personal question, I like it. “Do you prefer your hair or braids?”

As of right now, I prefer braids. Even though I don’t get them often, when I do get them, I do enjoy it because I don’t have to do my hair for a while. Of course I have to oil my scalp to make sure that my actual hair is growing and staying healthy and things like that, but I don’t have to do anything with my hair. I wrap my hair up and go to sleep and then when I get up in the morning, I take it off, like my scarf and my hair is done and I can just go wherever. I can put it in a ponytail, I can put it in a bun, or put on a headband, it’s that simple. But when I don’t have braids, I still love my hair.

The last question is, “What would you want people to know about your hair?”

Honestly, there’s a lot that I want people to know about my hair. I can say a lot, but if I had to pick one, I would say I would want people to know that my hair is a part of me and I love it so much. I used to not like my hair, I used to not want to deal with it. I actually used to not deal with it some days, I would just leave it and walk around the house looking all crazy because I was just that frustrated with my hair, but when I actually started taking care of my hair the way that I wanted to and I did the big chop and I was looking at all these new hairstyles, it was like it was becoming a part of me. I felt so powerful. I felt so beautiful all over. So hair, for me, it has a huge impact on me and that’s something that I would want people to know. I mean, it is just hair but personally it means a lot more than what you may see. And with that being said, that is the end of our Q&A session and now we will get into our next session where we share the stories given by others and really get into the definitions of different types of hair styles, both male and female and just have some fun with it. I’ll see you in the next session!

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Now let’s jump into our stories, guys. The stories are going to be broken up into three sections: the first section will be all about perms, the second session will be all the boys’ stories and then the third story will be all about braids.

Now to start off, our first story is from Lyza West. She’s a senior at Parkway West. And her story is, she used to get perms all the time to the point where it damaged her scalp and her head would bleed and she would have scars. Ouch. She stopped doing perms because of that reason and now has a head full of hair that she started protecting every day.

Now Lyza is a really great friend of mine, and I can also say that yes, she does have a head full of hair, and it’s so fluffy and it’s really pretty and beautiful and I love her hair now. Before we get into anything else, although a perm is simply a relaxer, and it is a chemical treatment that just straightens the curliness out of your hair. By breaking down the bonds and the hair shaft. So it just gets rid of all curls and makes your hair straight, all flowy and wavy things like that.  

And so, now the reason why her scalp became damaged and her head would bleed is because it’s chemicals. It’s chemicals that we’re putting into our hair to force our hair to straighten, not naturally straighten it. And in those chemicals––I don’t even know the chemicals myself but you have to put it really close to your scalp––you have to make sure you get every inch of your hair so that nothing curly stands out. and so that it can get all of your hair, to make it straight and look evened out. But what people don’t know is that it’s just, it’s not good to do. But I’m very proud of Lyza because she has, once again, beautiful hair to this day and I love seeing her hair, and I love it when she wears it all out. Out of ponytails with headbands and things like that, because it’s just, she came from using such bad things to doing the good things for her hair.

Another story in relation to perms is Nakailah. Nakailah is a sophomore in college, another great friend of mine, and her story is [that] she used to have thick hair back in elementary school that was hard to tame. She went to a primarily white school which led to the envy of her classmates’ hair, and she believed that her hair was ugly. Because of that her grandma began to give her perms to make styling easier, but it would burn an itch to the point where it led to her hair in edges falling out.

Finally in middle school she got away from her grandma and didn’t get perms as much, but when she finally got into high school she never did a perm again. Instead of doing the big chop, which is basically just chopping all of your hair off and starting from scratch, she let her damaged hair grow out. She did protective styles, ignored the heat and used good products. And Nakailah says that she enjoys the journey of her natural hair. She loves her own hair and sees herself teaching her future daughters and sons the importance of their hair. I think that’s such an amazing thing that her own experience is leading her to give her future children a better experience, you know, and as I know Nakailah, Nakailah is a very strong, independent woman, and with the way that her hair is now, she genuinely does love it.  She’s beautiful, whatever she does to it. And she’s very educated on her hair and I admire her for that. And so, specifically in the Black female community getting perms is actually quite common, just because it’s nice to have that silky straight hair. And personally, I have gotten like a relaxer aka a perm before, but I never did it as extensively, as bad as Nakailah and Lyza did. My mom didn’t really believe in that stuff. But what I did, instead, was I straightened my hair, but like with heat instead of chemicals and both are bad, either way. Same thing with Nakailah, how the perms led to her hair falling out and edges falling out, same thing happened to me with the heat damage. My hair stopped growing, edges falling out and it was, it was bad. 

But another thing about something being common is that as a young child, as females, we just, we tend to believe that our hair is not beautiful. And we tend to believe that we need to have the hair that everyone else has, which is, once again, that silky and soft and long and straight and wavy hair and it’s just something that I feel like every Black female goes through. We just tend to admire the white girl’s hair more than our own and we believe that something is wrong with our hair and there’s nothing wrong with their hair. And with every Black female, it takes for us to go through that, to get to where we want to be in life and to get to the point where we can say “Yes, I did that, yes I remember that” but now and say that they are a completely different person. Clearly, there are a lot more negatives than positives when it comes to a perm. But, you know, for those who do it, you know, that’s their preference and then for those who don’t do it once again, their preference, and I just personally, I don’t like perms anymore. I never liked them really once again, my mom never really did them. But instead of me doing that, I used heat, which I do not recommend for anyone. 

As we move into our next section, like I mentioned earlier with the boys story now. This section is so important to me because it reminds me of the q&a question that we got where it was asked, “Is hair important to males as it is to females?” And, yes, I use that I want to believe that it is. And so I’m really glad that I was able to get some stories from boys.

This first story is from an anonymous person. His story is that throughout his freshman year of high school he would wear a durag to school, due to his hair being deplorable aka bad looking, and he had a whitewashed Black homeroom teacher. And the teacher would always give him a sideways glance, the silent treatment and silently call him a thug when he was not in the room. He was the only Black kid in that grade until sophomore/junior year, and eventually the teacher got fired because he had so many complaints. First off, I just want to apologize that you had to go through that. I’m so sorry that that happened to you. Those are the types of stories that you don’t hear often, and people don’t know about it. But this is a story that shows that this actually happens, whether people want to believe it or not. For those who don’t know,he said he would wear a durag. A durag is simply just a common piece of accessory, almost a hairpiece, that many guys wear to either be fashionable, or just to protect their hair and to get waves, as many of us would call it.

And I think durags are actually really nice. I think they add some pizzazz to outfits to whatever it is. So I think they’re a really nice thing. I know my dad, he wears them. When he just got done moisturizing his hair, when he just is brushing it and then I have friends who want to get waves. So, the durag adds pressure to keep the style of the waves in their hair after they’re done brushing it to create that wave-like look.

But durags are also just like bonnets and scarves that girls use when we get our hair done, or just to protect our hair because we can’t necessarily go to sleep with our hair laying out like that. We need that extra protection to keep in the moisture, to keep the style the way that it is, and really make sure that we’re not damaging our hair, in any way, shape or form. I use a bonnet. I use scarves. My mom uses a scarf. But with guys you know, I don’t see, at least my brothers, I don’t see them going to sleep with the durags on their hair so it really is used for everyday wear, rather than sleep wear. But it can be worn as sleepwear.

So, moving on to the next story that is somewhat similar, except it doesn’t have much to do with the durags, but it has to do with the hairstyles you know like hair pieces and hairstyles coming together.

This next story is from Jailyn Jones, he is a senior at Parkway West, and his story is that he used to have dreads and his dreads were his crown and he loved them greatly. But like being a king, having his dreads took a lot of responsibility, and he upheld those responsibilities for about a year and two months, but then it began to interfere with the things he loved like working out and just living life. He couldn’t see, and they were a hassle at times. And then finally he made the decision to cut them. But when he did that he was not confident at all, and was really insecure, but once he saw his natural curly hair, he knew it was the right move, and that he was going to be OK. He says it was scary for him because his hair is a huge part of him. Now, I really liked that story because it really does show that guys do care about their hair as much as females do. I know there’s that typical thought that ‘guys don’t care,’ but like Jailyn some guys do. And as I’m a friend of Jailyn’s, I can admit his dreads were really nice; they were different colors and it worked really nice with his skin tone. I think it was a good fit for him. When he cut them out, I remember I was actually shocked, I was like ‘Wait what, why did you do that?’ But at the same time, I didn’t completely bother him about it or get on him about it because I was thinking in the back of my head. “There’s a reason why he did that. He did it for a reason and didn’t just cut it to be cutting it.” And I’m really proud that he grew to like his hair after he cut his dreads because like he said, once he saw his natural curly hair, he knew it was the right move, meaning he doubted it at first, but then he understood and realized that what I did wasn’t so bad, it was actually a really good thing. And I’m glad that he was able to see that. Because as he said, his hair is a huge part of him, and he only wants what’s best for his hair. So, his story says, he had dreads. Dreads are basically just these rope like clumps of matted or braided hair. There’re many different names for it like jata, sanskrit, locs or dreads, dreadlocks. And it’s basically done by back combing, rolling or braiding with a comb or some type of brush.

My mom actually, she had locs and so dreads are something that anybody can get whether you’re a female or a male. And I think it’s a really nice style because it grows your hair, and it’s protective and you can keep it in for a lot longer than you would be able to with a sew-in or with braids. My mom had her dreads for a really long time and no matter what, her hair looked so good. And when her hair would actually start showing as it does with braids, she would just simply go get them rebraided, rematted and once again, her hair was nice, as it was before. So I think it’s a really good way to get your hair done, and to get that protectiveness that you need for your hair. And this also comes in with hair pieces once again as I mentioned before, this would be a time where you would wear a hairpiece to protect your hair. Because you don’t want to possibly mess it up or have one of them fall out. So I know my mom, she wore some stuff. Jailyn, I don’t know if he does but I feel like this is a time where you would because your hair is in this style and you want to keep it protected and keep it nice for as long as possible, but with dreadlocks, you don’t have to worry as much about that because it’s a hairstyle that can stay in a lot longer than other hairstyles.

I really want to emphasize the difference between men and women, and care for their hair. And the reason why is because, yes, there are men who do not care but then there are men that do care. And I want all the guys out there to know that it’s OK to want to take care of your hair, and it’s OK to want to care for yourself. It’s OK to want to really take the time out and be like, oh, ‘What do I want to do with my hair today? ‘What do I want to do with my face today?’ ‘What I want to do is any of this?’ So it’s just really important to know that taking care of yourself, taking care of your hair, it’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s a beautiful thing actually, so take care of your hair guys. And finally, we’re going to move into section three about braids then. I’m excited for this one because I actually have braids right now in my hair, which I love, and they are just pretty. They’re very pretty.

So this is an anonymous story. And she says that one time she was taking down her braids and she cut them too short and cut her actual hair. Now, this may sound weird like ‘You’re cutting the hair? What are you doing? No!”’ So, we cut out the braids, so it will be easier to take out. You can start from the bottom and work your way up with a comb. But, cutting it makes them shorter so you won’t have to unbraid as much, but there is that worry that you’re going to cut your actual hair, depending on how long your hair is. And so you really have to be cautious of that. I think I’m pretty sure I’ve done that, at least once. And in that moment, you’re like ‘Oh my god, no! I cut my hair.’ But you then realize that, ‘Oh, I have to make sure I cut a little bit lower for the rest of them.”’And I’m pretty sure a lot of people know what braids are but just to give a small little definition there’s simply just three stranded plats, three strand pieces of hair being braided together. They’re not really different from standard braids, but they’re really much more defined since the tension that is applied to the braids while being braided is enough to prevent your hair from coming out, from flyaways, from stray hairs. And so, your hair is basically just sectioned off into shapes, squares or boxes all throughout your scalp and it gets braided to however long you want it, and you know you can shake your hair and run through the wind with them. It’s a nice hairstyle because you treat it like it’s just normal hair once you’re done. 

I think I mentioned earlier, I prefer braids, once again because it’s a protective style and I don’t have to worry about doing my own hair. And I really want to point out that your hair is growing while you have this hairstyle. Your hair is growing, it’s becoming healthy, because as you have the braids in, you’re moisturizing your scalp and still taking care of the hair like you can’t just get braids and not do anything to it. That’s not how that works. You have to still put the necessary oils in it that you would naturally put in your actual hair. And so another thing about braids is that they can stay in your hair for a good month or so, depending on how well that you take care of them. I know some people won’t keep them in for that long, but personally I try to keep them in for as long as I will allow myself. I don’t really care about people being able to see my hair when my hair is starting to come out. Because that’s also a sign that your hair is growing, so it’s growing out of the braids and it’s like, “Oh, your hair is growing, time to take them down, or your hairs coming out of the braid. So some things come out, one way or another. Your hair is growing and your hair is being healthy, while it’s in these braids which is why it’s typically called a protective style, people typically do get braids for their protectiveness, and to allow their hair to grow without them having to do too much to it. 

Now, there are so many different types of braids that you can get. The options are endless which is why I love it because you can get braids with curls on them, braids with waves in them short, long, medium, big, small; it’s just endless. You can add color to it, it’s all on your preference, and I love that there’s so many options. The braids that I have now have curls with them. So not only do you see that braid, but you see that curl and it gets it gets all wavy sometimes, and it really just makes me feel so pretty inside, and it’s just it’s a great thing to get sometimes because I’m pretty sure we’ve all had that moment where we’re like, ‘I don’t want to do my hair, I don’t feel like doing it,’ so we get this hairstyle, so you don’t have to worry about her hair for a while, besides having to moisturize it every now and then. 

As people know about braids, I’m pretty sure people know about extensions which are just synthetic slash human hair that is attached to the hair on someone’s head to give the appearance of longer hair and that’s the difference between the two. Box braids, you can clearly tell that there’s added hair. You can clearly tell that it’s not my hair. But with extensions, you might not be able to tell because it’s supposed to be the same color, and it’s just embedded in your hair so people won’t really be able to tell, unless you tell them or you take them out in front of people. And with braids. I’m pretty sure everyone knows but it’s not our hair, it’s clearly fake hair, and I’ve had people ask me that question like “Is that your real hair?” And they will pull, literally, they will pull my hair and be like, “Is this your hair, this isn’t your hair, it should hurt when I pull” and things like that and I’m like, “why are you pulling my hair?” That’s an experience that I have way too often, especially in middle school when I started getting my hair braided. A lot of people would just touch it and they pull it and I’m like, “Can you not pull my hair?” And I feel like this experience is one that a lot of people go through, not necessarily the question of, “Is it your real hair?” but the touching and the pulling and we don’t appreciate it. It’s not fun at all. I know some people will ask, and I sometimes will be like, “Oh, yeah, totally go ahead” but then other people will just do it without permission and that’s what makes it really awkward and makes it really uncomfortable. Braids are a good thing, you guys should get them. 

And that is the end of our section with the stories and now we have one more story to get into, and I’m so excited for you guys to hear it.

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All right, all right, as we get into our last story of the episode, I want to thank everyone for listening. And this story is from Mrs. Smith. She is the sophomore principal at Parkway West. And I saved her story for last because she is an adult, and I really wanted to emphasize the growth from being a child to going into your adulthood with your hair experiences.

Now Mrs. Smith moved from New Orleans, La. to Yuma, Ariz. which led to the change of being in an environment where no one looked like her. And in elementary school, she was one of four Black children. Her hair was permed, short and didn’t grow as quickly and she believed that this was her reason for not being popular and not making many friends. She began to braid her hair, and her confidence was uplifted and she realized that her hair was really unique. Especially when she became a teacher. The little Black girls looked up to her, they dressed like her. But one time she had an encounter with a little girl who was in tears because others were making fun of her hair and it brought back memories of her that she thought she had overcome but had not.

She has a daughter now, and her daughter now wants to add hair to her natural kinks because she hates her puffs. She felt like she needed those enhancements to fit in, so Mrs. Smith, then wanted to become an example. And by doing this, she cut up all of her hair and started from scratch.

She made the decision to accept her natural beauty and she felt free to learn to accept her for all she was because she knew that she was not meant to be like anyone else. That was amazing. That’s really shocking, one out of four Black children in elementary school. I mean obviously things were different back then but that’s still very shocking to me. But at the same time it’s not because if you look into today’s world, the amount of Black kids in schools is still very small.

My favorite part was the part where she talked about the little Black girls looking up to her and confiding in her. And then when she brought up the encounter she had with a little girl who was getting made fun of because of her hair. It’s sad that things like that happen but they really do happen. And I feel like, those are the stories that really need to be known. Because ‘Why would you bully someone about their hair?’ Maybe, back at home, they don’t have the necessary tools. They don’t know how to do their hair, no one’s helping them do their hair and then they leave their home to go and get made fun of for it. I don’t think that’s fair at all. But I’m really glad that Mrs Smith was able to become an example. One thing that is such a strong example was cutting off all of her hair and starting from scratch.

I did that also, to tie into Mrs.Smith’s story. I did that myself recently. July 2020, I cut all of my hair off. It was such an exhilarating moment for me, it was the start of something new. What’s funny is how with Mrs Smith, she cut off all of her hair immediately. But with me, I didn’t do that. It took me three times to actually cut all my hair off. I have thought about the big chop constantly and constantly.

But I ignored it and I let people change my mind. First time, I only got a little bit cut off. Second time I went back and I was like ‘I’m cutting it. I’m cutting it,’ because my hair was still damaged at that point and I just thought it would be a smart thing to do.” Talked me out of it, once again I went home and barely had any hair cut off.  Third time, the same thing happened. She [my hair stylist] comes over and she’s like, ‘Alright, let’s get to it,’ She’s like, ‘You know, you don’t actually have to cut off all your hair,’  and I was like, ‘Oh really,’  And I ended up not cutting my hair once again. I cut it a little bit lower, but not as low as I had originally planned. Fourth time, I finally did it. Wow, three times it took to cut off my hair. And it took a lot of talking with my mom, a lot of talking to myself and understanding, ‘Do you really want to do this? Why are you doing this, how are you going to do this, how are you going to take care of your hair once it’s all gone.

I remember sitting in the chair, getting ready to get my hair cut off and I swear, time stopped. I froze and I was second-guessing myself in the chair, as my hair was about to get cut off. I didn’t get a warning, because the person who does our hair was a family friend. I didn’t get a warning and my hair went off. You could hear the snips, you could hear the buzzing of the razor. It was just happening and I couldn’t do anything about it. But as I mentioned before, it was exhilarating, because deep down I felt good about what I was doing, because I knew it was the start of something new. And when he was done and we went home and I looked at myself in the mirror, I couldn’t stop touching my hair. I couldn’t stop playing with my hair, I couldn’t stop taking pictures and smiling, I was so happy. It was so short, I couldn’t really run my fingers through it; it was that short. And I thought to myself, ‘Why didn’t I do this before? Why didn’t I do this sooner?’

As I mentioned earlier in the episode. I messed up my hair really bad by straightening it all the time  and I damaged it and gave it heat damage. My hair stopped growing and I lost my edges. At one point I messed up my hair so badly because I put ponytails in the same spot in my head and I didn’t know that by doing that, you could kill the hair in that spot. So I basically had a small bald spot in the middle of my head, because I kept putting my ponytail in the same spot every day and I left it in there all day, every day. Don’t do that guys, I don’t recommend it. But chopping off your hair and doing the big chop, as me and Mrs Smith did, it really is a personal choice, and you cannot think about what other people will think. And that was one of my problems which is why the first three times I didn’t do it. And as I think back to it, it’s funny to me because my mom would get mad at me. She would get mad because she would say, ‘Why are you caring about what other people are thinking? It’s your hair, it’s going to grow back, you shouldn’t care’ but all I thought about was other people’s opinions. But I think what really got to me was my mom, she finally stopped, helping me. She stopped trying to change my mind, she stopped trying to aid me in the right direction. She just said, Do what you want to do. Whatever you want to do, I’ll do it for you. I’ll help you with it but I will not help you make this decision.’

I think it was at that moment where I matured a little bit. I realized that I was letting other people’s opinions, I was so worried about it, that it could possibly alter any decision that I make, worrying about other people’s opinions so much. And that’s when I just said ‘forget about it!’ I really said forget about it and just did it. We made the appointment and I did everything in my power to not look back because it was about time that I stopped caring about what other people wanted or what other people thought, it was me and my hair, no one else, no one else is cutting off their hair, it’s just me. Who’s really going to care about you cutting your hair? You and only you. And that was when I really needed to understand. And I thank my mom for doing that because I probably wouldn’t have done it if she wouldn’t have said something like that.

Speaking of mothers and parents, you know, grandparents, they really do have an effect on your hair, and the reason why I say that is because my mom, has done a lot with her hair. She’s gotten hair added. She’s cut her hair. She’s gotten locs before. She’s dyed her hair. She’s straightened her hair. She’s done all the above. And the thing about my mom that I admire so much is, she told me that when she was a child, she actually did not care about what other people thought. She didn’t care about that, she didn’t care about hair, she was just living life as a child and it’s amazing to know that there are people like her out there that are just doing their life, living their life without caring about hair. Whereas in today’s generation, we’re automatically thinking about it and we’re like, ‘I don’t like it and I don’t want it, I want that hair.’ So, I admire my mom so much because she’s such a strong individual and throughout my hair journey, from me being a child till now at eighteen years old, she has really had a huge impact on my hair. She has helped me make the right decisions. And if I made a wrong decision, she would talk to me about it and help me not make that mistake again, even if I did make that mistake again because I thought I knew what I was doing when really I didn’t. It is my mom who really has helped me love my hair the way that I do now. And I want to emphasize that it’s OK to listen to people close to you about your hair. But don’t let it get to you to the point where you’re second-guessing yourself all the time, and you’re worried about their opinion, all the time.

Advice is always good to get. But when it comes to you and your hair, don’t take too much of it. Take just enough to where it will lead you in the right direction as it did with me and my mom. And as I move further into life, as I’m about to go into college this fall, I’m thinking, I really have to start doing my hair on my own. I really have to start taking care of my own hair. I won’t have my mom, I won’t have my grandma, I won’t have my friends because we’re all going in different ways in life and we have to start living on our own. Of course, they’ll all be a phone call away, a text away, but it will really be just you and just me. And it’s really important to know where you stand with your hair, and how you want to move forward with it. 

That’s why I want to say that hair means a lot to me. And it should mean a lot to you. I want it to mean a lot to anyone out there who has Black hair, or just any type of hair. I really want to emphasize that you should love your hair, your hair should mean a lot to you. But then, you know, there are some people out there that are just like, ‘Oh, it’s just hair’  and they’ll shave off their entire head to be bald or have little to no hair and that’s OK too. But for those people who really have their hair as a trophy to them as something that is so dear in their heart, keep that feeling, keep loving your hair, keep treating your hair, keep being you, with your hair. Now your hair, it’s not you. Some people might say that it is and there’s nothing wrong with that, but your hair is just another part of you that helps you love yourself, that helps you become who you want to be. And I want people to know that whatever you decide to do with your hair is your choice, nobody else’s. You can do whatever you want to do to your hair. You can dye it, you can braid it, cut it, you can shave it, whatever it is you want to do with your hair. As long as it makes you feel beautiful at the end of the day, as long as it makes you feel empowered. That’s all that matters.

Do not let anybody, and I mean anybody tell you different about your hair. Because it’s your hair, no one else’s.

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As we are getting closer to the end of the episode, I really want to talk about how hair can create a community, or how it builds community, specifically in the Black community. There are four main points that I would like to share. One it helps us come closer together as a whole community. Two, it helps us find our worth in ourselves and in each other. Three, it helps us learn about the beauty of our hair that we find unbearable at times. It makes us stand out and be our own community rather than trying to follow another. Now all of those points are really, really important, but I want to point out two of them that I feel like we need to pay more attention to. One, it helps us find our worth in ourselves and in each other. And two, it makes us stand out and be our own community rather than trying to follow another. Now with the first one, In today’s world, it is already hard to find our worth and to love ourselves in the way that social media impacts our self-worth, our self-image. But, when you have a thing like hair and you see other people with the same hair as you or you see other people having the same struggle as you, it makes you want to be more open about it, it makes you want to learn more and it really makes you want to find out ‘what else can I do.’ And so with hair, we can confide in each other to really understand how we want to do our hair, how we wanna have it, how we can learn to love it and become one with it because it’s a part of us and trying to love it and trying to find things to do with it all the time and not listen to what other people are saying, can be really hard at times. 

But hair can bring us together in so many ways because we can all relate to it, one way or another. No matter what it is, we all relate to each other and to hair in some way. And with the other point, it makes us stand out, it really does. The Black community, we stand out in so many ways and we just don’t know it. Of course, there are the obvious ones, but then there are the little ones and I feel like hair is slowly starting to become a bigger one which makes me so excited because you know that’s the first thing that people may notice about us sometimes, it’s our hair because either it’s out in this big Afro, or it’s cut down really low, or it’s in the braided hairstyle, it’s in this curly hairstyle, this straight hair style, this wavy hairstyle, this jewelry hairstyle, all these different types of hairstyles and that’s what people notice and automatically, eyes are all on us. Eyes are all on our hair and it causes us to stand out. And that’s such a great thing, it’s such a beautiful thing because that means we’re different, we’re not like anybody else. We are building our own community, we’re building our own platform for ourselves that doesn’t have anybody else but us. it’s such an empowering thing, it’s such an amazing thing because we’re our own people, we’re our own community, we’re our own group and that’s how it should be. Of course, we are welcoming always but it’s really important to have people who look like you, who sound like you, who do things like you, to really make you feel loved, to make you feel like yourself, to make you feel like you’re wanted, to make you feel like you are capable of doing anything in this world. Especially with our hair, once again, that is the one thing we can all relate to. It is the one thing that we’re all trying to do, every single day of our lives. 

So standing out, because of our hair, it’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen [and] I’ve ever heard. I’ve seen hairstyles that are so exotic, it’s so crazy, I’m just like ‘that’s amazing! I wish I could do that with my hair’ but then I also think ’That means I can do a lot with my hair.’ It’s an encouraging thing, it gives you ideas, it makes you want to do better. So with our hair, it brings us together more than we know and I’m really glad that sometimes we are able to share with others and we are really able to express it to others to let people know that this is us, this is our community, this is our culture and this is who we are.

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As I end today’s episode, I really want to leave you guys with a quote that I felt was really beautiful and really attacked that topic of Black hair being something great rather than not being great. This quote says “Standing out because of the texture length, or style African-American hair is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a blessing. Be dissimilar, be different, be unmatched and sit in your beauty.” Now that quote, I grabbed from Mrs. Smith, one of the people who shared her story with us today because as I asked her a question to share a story with me and she said everything in her story, those lines just stuck out to me and I couldn’t help but see myself following that for the rest of my life because everything in there is true. Sit in your beauty, standing out, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You are beautiful with your hair forever and ever.  Don’t ever think differently. I want to thank all you guys for taking the time to listen to today’s episode and once again I really want to thank those who shared their stories with me to be told to others. I am really glad that you guys feel comfortable being able to share your stories with me, it makes me so happy. I hope that this episode leaves you guys with a good feeling in your heart and it really helps you have a better understanding of what black hair is all about. I thank you guys once more and I’ll see you next time on It’s Not Black and White.

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