For the past sixteen years of my life I have alternated between wearing my hair in its natural state and spending long hours in a beauty shop getting my hair chemically processed. When I first made the decision to go natural, my life was chaotic: I had gotten struck by two cars (true story) and was in the hospital recuperating when I received a phone call telling my brother had died from a drug overdose in my bed.
My hair immediately started shedding from neglect and stress. One day while watching an Oprah episode about updating your look and how to stop dressing and living in the past, I looked in the mirror, picked up a pair of shears and rid myself of the few strands of chemically processed hair I had left attached to my head. I was finally free! Or was I?
This was back in the 1994 when very few Black women in Chicago were wearing their hair in its natural status. I enduured dirty looks, sniggers from women whose chemically processed hair was unkempt and raggedly, and generally a lot of negativity from my brainwashed Negro brethren.
By the summer of 1995, I foolishly relaxed my hair on top of the blond dye I had put in my hair to camouflage my hereditary bald spots on the sides and guess what? My hair fell out on a nightly basis and pretty soon, I had patches of hair. I had to go the local beauty supply shop to get a wig to cover up the mess that was my hair and start anew.
By the spring of 1996, I had gotten rid of the wig and was proudly sporting my ‘fro. I was a queen and my ‘fro was my crown. Not the raggedly head women who gave me funny looks everytime I stepped on the bus. I pitied those women so brainwashed into believing their natural hair was so ugly that they would rather hang on to damaged, dry hair the texture of straw. Or wear cheap, tacky looking weave jobs so obviously fake that only a fool would be bamboozled.
I pitied the men who did not understand why I was wearing my hair natural and who tried to convince me to join the indoctrinated masses of Black women by relaxing my hair or wearing a weave.
However, by the spring of 1997, my attitude drastically changed. I had just completed a word processing class at the Chicago Urban League and was turned down for a receptionist position at that same prestigous organization by a light-skinned, long flowing hair older harridan because she stated that I needed to do something with my hair (Get rid of the afro because it makes me feel uncomfortable and I am a sell out).
That attitude really hurt. Years of brainwashing had destroyed the mentality of some Blacks and to be turned down for a job by my own people because of my hair, my own hair, my crown was a total kick in the ass. By the summertime, I decided to relax my hair once again because I needed a job and guess what? I received a job, not at the Chicago Urban League but somewhere else.
I kept this look for four years. From 1997 to 2001, I was at the beauty shop every Saturday from 7am unti 5pm. I felt as though I was going to work. My children would look depressed because they knew they would not see their mother until later in the day and would call the shop to talk to me.
I have been thinking a lot about my hair and the issues I have dealt with because of some funky ass hair because last Monday I wore a wig ( a hot wig during a Chicago heatwave) to a job interview and I feel totally like manure considering I have not heard anything from the people I interviewed with. Thirty dollars down the drain to impress some people I will probably never meet again in this lifetime. Its enough that I have to put on my Happy Negro face and answer a bunch of stupid ass questions about my job experience and why would I be the best the person for the job.
One of these days, the next time I am asked this question on a job interview, I am going to reply,”Because I really need a fucking job. I have bills to pay, children to support, and I would be a great asset to your company because I have managed to keep all my bills paid without anything getting cut-off, paid for my son’s graduation expenses and accomplished all of these without any financial assistance from anyone other than the unemployment benefits some people believe are being used to buy drugs and alcohol”.Of course I am not going to say that (maybe) but I am waiting for the day Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about so eloquently: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”. Hopefully, hair texture equates into this also. Hopefully one day soon, my poor brainwashed Negroes will come from under the cloud of unawareness and learn to worship everything that comes with being Black. Any society that placed a skinny drug addict (Kate Moss) on the pedestal of beauty and femininity that all American women should aspire to is a society that is really fucked up.