Going back to my roots, literally


The following was written over two years ago when I first decided to go natural. This doesn't mean I relinquished all my clothing. It means I stopped slathering what many of us black ladies call "creamy crack" on my skull so that I could have straight hair. It took me ALMOST as long to even begin to appreciate the natural texture God intended. I hated it at first. I wasn't big on afros -- on me anyway. I loved how they looked on everyone else! I just never felt mine did what I wanted which added to my frustration.

Fast forward to now and where I am living. Many things come to view for me here on the Rez. The people here take so much pride in who they are and they hold on to it tightly. I've never seen that kind of thing at this level. I am now a lot more aware of my own ancestry. Not so much that I even know what all the different bloodlines live beneath my skin but rather I've learned to embrace being a black woman even more because it IS who I am. The crazy thing is how people really like to misappropriate Native culture. While at the same time living here, I've had on more than one occasion equal fascination with being black! All the way down to people wanting to touch my hair!

Since being here I've decided to stop even combing out my tresses into an afro. For the first time I'm getting really acquainted with my texture. I say acquainted instead of reacquainted because it's almost like I'm being introduced to it. I was so quick to comb it out that I didn't take a whole lot of time seeing what this texture was REALLY like. I also hadn't taken the time to moisturize and care for it the way I should in order to bring that texture out until I was nudged by a friend who is also living natural. In fact, I'm quite sure my increasing annoyance with my hair as an afro was because I didn't treat it well and didn't even know it! The photo above was my in-between stage of growing out my straightened hair and the natural hair coming through.

So below I give you the moment I first decided to take this journey. It may seem silly to be so enveloped in such a thing as hair, but I see now it means more than that.

Going back to my roots, literally

As a black woman, I would like to think that I've got a lot of pride in my heritage. Black is most prominent of course, but like everyone else, so many other races beat in my veins too -- Asian, Native American, Irish...and who knows what else.

But I'm a black woman so therefore I have the black woman's plight of having to choose between getting rid of my roots with chemical relaxers so I can have straight hair, or going natural. I'm not one for weaves and wigs are fun within reason. I've been relaxing my hair more than 20 years. A few months of being a fifth-grader was the first time I had ever gone natural, without even a heat comb, with a short afro and I never liked how I looked. I craved that "good hair" as they say...

Here at almost 32 in a few weeks, I've decided to go natural. Illnesses caused some hair loss so the chemicals I was using didn't help the condition of my hair. It has been a difficult decision. And an emotional one. It seems silly to be emotional about hair but to me it's about trying to accept what The Creator has given me and not altering it so much anymore. My mother cut most of my relaxed hair off last night and I'm left with a half and half look for now. It's looking more like an afro but it's not quite there yet and I'm starting to get really nervous about it.

Do I look manly? Do I look not as pretty? I'm asking these questions and they are the result of insecurities I've obviously been harboring. Dare I even call this a struggle, it's just hair -- right?

me and my hair