The misunderstood nap

This morning while doing my usual tour through the blogosphere, I stopped at blog that had a You Tube clip of Paul Mooney talking to a young woman about a wide array of issues. At the beginning of the piece Mooney makes mention to the young Black woman interviewing him that he knew she had a gig because she was employed and her hair was relaxed. (sorry, gotta grab mini-me from daycare so I am rushing and paraphrasing) It was a cute Mooney moment but for some reason its been on my mind all day.

Now I have been an unrelaxed aka no chemicals in the hair sista going on 9 years now, for the past 4.5 years I have been growing locs (dreadlocks) and for 3.5 of those years I have been free-forming (just wash, separate, oil and go, no other manipulation). My initial decision to stop relaxing was partially because I knew I might move to Maine and figured there would be few places to get my coif done on a regular basis; I was also tired of being a slave to the hair shop. See back in the day, I had a standing Friday afternoon date with my old beautician, every week for a wash/dry and curl and every 6 weeks for a touch-up. My hair care was written into the budget like the light bill and back then I was paying with tip damn near $50 a week to keep my hair bouncing and behaving. I pretty much just got tired and wanted to be free.

Now it took some time for me to make the leap, I did the weave thing for a while, tried braids but one day just got tired of it all and went to the shop and told ole girl to cut it all off, so I walked out with at best 2 inches on my head. When I got home, I could tell that the spousal unit was trying not to cry and when my Pops saw me he was so disgusted at my bald head he stopped talking to me for 2 weeks. Thankfully my Mom loved it so much that a couple of months later she too went natural though she later went back to relaxing because she got tired of my Pops bitching.

I learned early on that fear of the naps is real as hell and was reminded of that when Paul Mooney in his piece spoke of white folks fearing naps, yet I would add that I think more than white folks fearing nappy hair, Black folks are even more afraid of naps.

So today I found myself thinking back on my hair journey, early on in my nappy state, I became a militant nappy.. you know the type. The sista that judges everyone who is relaxed, thankfully that stage has long past and these days I got no issues with relaxed sistas, other than if you are going to be relaxed, take care of your hair. Now I admit when I see relaxed sistas with missing edges who want to look at me with a greasy look, I do get pissed. I also admit I don’t understand if you are going to be relaxed and only rock that one sad ponytail with the dirty pony tail holder, frankly that’s a tad gross. On the other hand if your hair is healthy and your style is fierce, you get a big smile from me.

However the loc journey has been a fascinating one since initially I had no idea where it would go, it was a month after my Mom died and I was having a JOB moment and just needed to do something, honestly I always thought I would have groomed locs since deep down I think I was scared of naps- what would folks think if I walked around with a heavy of openly nappy hair? Yet as the process went on and I got stronger, I started to care a lot less what anyone thought about my head. Shit, when you are a cocoa-complexioned sista, it ain’t like anyone is ever going to confuse me for being white. Back when I had straight hair, I would occasionally get mistaken for being Puerto Rican or Dominican and when I was young and still silly enough to not realize that there are folks from the African diaspora in both places, I used to think it was nice since maybe it meant I was less Black. (yeah, I know like I said silly thinking).

No, I no longer fear the naps but I do notice that folks both Black and white seem to think that a nappy haired especially a dread-locked wearing Black woman is a tad militant, and while I have militant moments truth is I am not militant. I sometimes encounter young Black women who express a desire to go nappy but are worried about how their naps will be perceived in the work world, to that I say yes you might put off some folks but truthfully someone who cares about what’s on your head rather than what’s in it is probably not someone you want to work for.

Nappy hair is misunderstood by most but for me I embrace it. Gotta run..

Get your hands away from hair, fascination with Black hair

In living in Maine for the past 6 years, there is still one thing that pisses me off and while I know it may seem petty and small of me but the fact is it just pisses me off. I hate when people attempt to touch my hair, when I first landed here I had about 4 inches of hair on my head, in my years here I have grown out my hair and 4 years ago decided to loc my hair aka dreadlocks.

My decision to dread/loc my hair was prompted by the untimely death of my beloved Mama, I pretty much had a JOB moment and well, locing my hair to mark my true transition to womanhood seemed timely. Initially when I started the process I was going into Boston for maintenance/retwisting every 6 weeks but after 6-7 months of going over 4 hours rountrip to maintain the locs decided to give it up and start freeforming and I have been freeforming for about 3.5 years.

I won’t wax poetic about my loc journey but I will say its been a journey to self, I have been natural 8 years and loced half that time and its been a time of deep and personal growth. I have often marveled at how each stage in the loc journey seemed to remind me of the stages of my grief, early on the locs looked at times ugly and unstable which pretty much for the first year after my Mom’s death was how I felt.

Anyway over the past year as my locs have gotten longer and I have started wearing them uncovered more often, I find myself often accosted by well meaning but annoying white folks who ply me with questions, “How do you do that to your hair?” being the most common question. However one day when wearing my hair up in a sloppy ponytail, I had a woman reach for my hair and ask how did I get my hair up like that? Well I guess the look on my face must have seemed a bit slow because she then proceeded to ask me if my hair was my hair??? Come again? Duh, yes this is my hair and I grew it.

Now I know a white reader may be thinking but “Black girl you do live in Maine?” Yes, I do, but damn that does not give you the right to just walk up to me and ask stupid ass questions, hello I don’t even know you… Plus I want to know in what universe is it ok to ask a stranger if their hair is real or not, shit back in Chicago I would never dare to ask another sista if that was fine Yak she was wearing unless I wanted a foot up my ass.

No, I know there are not a Black folks in Maine but please for the love of all that is good, stop asking dumb ass questions about my hair. We cannot ever achieve racial harmony if you don’t even exercise common sense.