Natural Hair and Black-on-Black Shame

She Matters: The story of a girl's locks is a reminder that sometimes we hate ourselves more than others do.

Tiana Parker (screenshot from Fox 23)
Tiana Parker (screenshot from Fox 23)

To be fair, some black folks like natural hair just fine; others are indifferent. I’m not talking about all black people here, just as I was not speaking of all white people before. I am talking about the black people — similar to my grandmother — who go out of their way to put down natural hair, as if a similar version of fluff did not also grow from their own heads until it was permed into submission or covered in a protective style.

I am talking about the people who question whether I’ll ever get a job. (Check.) Or if men will date me. (Check.) Or if I’m going to [insert special event here] with my hair “like that?!” (Yup.) I mean the Wendy Williams of the world who feel it necessary to call out Viola Davis for wearing her natural hair during the Oscars. I mean the Sheryl Underwoods who will describe white hair as “beautiful” while dissing the hair that grows out of most black women’s heads.

Luckily for little Tiana, a whole bunch of locked women stepped up to provide her with words of encouragement in the form of personal letters and images of themselves that reflect her beauty back to her, which Yaba Blay, co-director and assistant teaching professor of Africana studies at Drexel University, compiled into an e-book. It was a beautiful gesture of support and love. If only all natural black women could expect that feeling from their sisters instead of the negativity that’s become too common, we’d really be getting somewhere. 

Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor to The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life.