Black hair and acceptable standards

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diversity issues / identity

screenshot_2017-01-08-03-53-29-1-2Black hair is a sensitive subject given the way non-black people respond to our hair. The negatives about cornrows, afros, extensions and natural hair on black people; as well as the positives of the same hairstyles on non-black people has certainly entertained many on social media and caused some upset to others.  

In the past, and in a small number of cases currently; black people had a difficult time embracing their beauty whilst wearing their natural hair. Nowadays, being black and beautiful encompasses ditching the extensions and hair attachments and flaunting natural black beauty. This is all great, until the white boss says something about your afro or your locks; or in the worst-case scenario, you get fired over your choice of hairstyle- then you are left feeling like it’s not so beautiful being black, or looking black after all.

My whole family wears natural, unprocessed hair. We wear afros, bantu knots and other African hairstyles done with cotton. My son wears locks because he is rooted in Afrocentric nature. It has everything to do with how he identifies himself and surely, we all have the right to wear our hair in honour of how we identify ourselves. Yet, as we have seen on the media, issues of hair rules and policies in schools and workplaces set up by white people, who want to tell black people, about how their hair is unsuitable for the environment and therefore unacceptable. The bloody cheek! Should anyone even get to have a say in how black people should wear their hair?

There is an understanding amongst white people that natural hair is untamed and or dirty.  Black children go through this type of ignorance in schools here in the UK, as I am sure that these issues are quite common elsewhere too. Our children go through this and the concerns of black families around these issues are not taken seriously. As a parent to black children in the UK, I have had to address hair issues at my children’s schools and some of the ignorance displayed by white members of staff has been quite surprising. The way I see it; the policing around what an appropriate hairstyle is, or how it must be maintained (must be tied back, must be tame, blah blah blah) is rooted in being anti-black and showing no respect for diversity. Policing black children in schools on their natural hair, whilst their white counterparts can wear their hair natural results in education inequalities. These children become uncomfortable, lose their confidence, have body confidence issues, may not enjoy school, underachieve or dropout of school. Schools should not make children liable for the natural state of their hair just because it’s different.

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