A few years back I wrote a review of the movie “My Nappy Roots” and since that time, Comedian/Entrepreneur Chris Rock also released a Movie with a similar theme entitled, “Good Hair.” Looking at the two films, there is a common history and a few shared ideas between the two documentaries. However, the most important link is the dialogue around the politics, culture, economics, social power and positioning surrounding “Black Hair.” As we continue to dissect the relationship dynamics that have driven this conversation, I have found myself involved in a movement of sorts. A centuries old reality – steadily taking center stage in a global context, now crystallized into “Black HAIRitage Month.” As a Writer, African/African-American Woman, Marketing Consultant & Student of Culture, I cannot help but be drawn to this subject matter as the passion inspired by “Black Hair” in many ways define my very own reality.
Recently, a Channel 5 News Reporter, Rochelle Ritchie chose to share her story and journey to “Natural” hair or finding her “Nappy Roots” with her viewing audience. Why this story is so significant, is that it outlines and illustrates the struggle that so many are unaware of or share. Ms. Ritchie’s decision to document her experiences and later share the news report with her “Caucasian” co-workers and their effort to support her decision, seems to be unprecedented. As Ms. Ritchie describes her decision, connecting this need inspire positive self esteem within her own daughter, possible negative career ramifications, social implications and perhaps even relationship issues that might arise from her decision, I watched in amazement. I thought to myself, that this issue is really deeply rooted in a universal psyche. That in 21st Century – when people are searching for identity, saying “Do You” and the trend towards globalization becoming the “buzz word” of the day, does this reporter and a myriad of others still struggle with a decision to “rock” their “natural” hairstyle and be their authentic self?
For those that might not be able to relate, as well as those that share this “Black HAIRitage” globally, I offer the following information for review and consideration. According to Ethnic Hair, Beauty and Cosmetics Products in the U.S., 7th Edition, Black Hair or the Ethnic Hair Care Industry is gaining ground. “In 2010, there is a strong trend to position beauty products multiculturally. That is, not only to the three principal minorities consisting of Hispanics, African Americans, and Asians, but also to Arabs, Native Americans, South Asians, and others,” says Don Montuori, publisher of Packaged Facts. “A strength of using the term ‘multicultural’ is that products carrying the label can be marketed to everybody, including Caucasians.” That report further suggests that; “The vibrant market for ethnic-specific health and beauty care products has experienced steady growth-even during the worst economic times-with retails sales increasing to $3 billion during the period 2005-2009.” Thefinal piece to this report which I found quite interesting is this quote; “The ability to market multicultural health and beauty care products to Caucasians, in addition to consumers of other ethnic backgrounds, is important to marketers based in the U.S. who increasingly seek lucrative international involvements. The term “ethnic” does not have the same meaning in most of the rest of the world, where billions of people have skin tones that befit the use of ethnic products popular in America and where Whites are the minority. Even in the U.S., which is home to more than 100 million persons of color, the term is expected to become antiquated in the coming decades, as the ethnic nation expands to become the majority sometime around 2042.“
Enter Black HAIRitage Month, October 2011! The idea behind this month long celebration according to Founder Regina Kimbell, who also happens to be the visionary behind the film “My Nappy Roots;” Black HAIRitage Month will “get to the root of the matter by connecting people all over the world through dialogue surrounding Black hair. This will be a global conversation around cultural identity, empowerment, economics and the Ethnic hair care industry.” As momentum builds, Ms. Kimbell is partnering and teaming up with a network of Consumers, Entrepreneurs & Ethnic Haircare Professionals impacting this estimated $9 billion dollar industry world wide.
To get involved with the movement, share your ideas or simply learn more about this topic, please feel free to visit http://www.blackhairitagemonth.com.