I understand. Believe me, I do. The afro is majestic.
Mesmerizing. Intriguing. Royal. Defiant. Religious even. The higher my hair, standing the way it was intended to stand out of my head, brings me closer to whatever deity, God or spiritual and universe plateau I’ve subjected to idolatry and obsession.
It is my church. I certainly do worship the strands, the strength it takes for them to posture and repel the Euro-standard of beauty. This is my psalm; the shape, the texture, the satisfaction, the emancipation, the frustration it will undoubtedly give me when it decides to stick to the back of my head a la Christopher Reid in House Party.
It doesn’t hurt that I live in the afro capital of the nation, Brooklyn, NY, but my quest love to find my lovely hair started many years before in Washington D.C.
And it must be noted…there was no movement or trend back when the hot shit was Dominican blowouts.
It was not a trend when I was a little girl, watching my mother primp and grease her natural mane. And it was not just a “thing to do,” when black women around America liberated themselves from the straight and blonde in an act of solidarity to take back what was stripped away…and to anchor ourselves as black women in a non-black America.
This is my culture.
And when, on the off chance that I am flipping through a publication that rarely, if ever, exists to affirm my black femininity, I encounter the first attempt to address the stylish and culturally necessary ‘do that we’ve been rocking for decades, I take notice.
For starters, there’s a sense of excitement paired with a bit of anxiety. How well did you celebrate this part of my world that is so new to you?
But then I’m met with a sense of dread. And yes Vogue, this one is for you.
Just recently they highlighted DJ and singer Kilo Kish (see video above), an 18-year-old baby New Yorker who decided to go back to her roots as a result of living free in the city. And while I am uber proud of the young entertainer, I do think it irresponsible on Vogue’s end not to celebrate or acknowledge the black hair platforms before Kish.
Because to the dismay of many natural girls, the tips, the products, the portrayal (Kish calls her mane “unkempt”) of what we hold so dear were falsely represented or just plain wrong.
For whatever reason, they decided to highlight the ‘fro without taking into account the women who have bolstered the high-do’s into white culture’s spotlight, and they need to know one thing.
They did it wrong.
Outside of presenting our girls with the proper hair care tips (and a sense of insecurity that suggests that only women living in NYC can feel that sense of hair prison release), introducing the afro as novel will bring more detriment than good.
As I read in one publication as recent as two weeks ago, “natural hair is a perfect fit for a generation that shuns Styrofoam and loves composting, hybrid cars and eco-friendly yoga clothes.”
You see, that’s not what it’s about. Rocking a ‘fro transcends being a hipster or trendy, vegan, bikram yoga freak.
So while American culture tries to digest our curls and kinks by announcing its birth into mainstream…or rebirth from the ’70s…it’s really doing nothing more than diminishing what’s so simple, yet so special about it.
It’s just our hair. And it always has been.
Christina Coleman is the News and Politics Editor at GlobalGrind and a Howard University Alumna. Prior to this she was a science writer. That explains her NASA obsession. She crushes on Anthony Bourdain. Nothing explains that. Follow her on Twitter @ChrissyCole for all things news & politics. Oh. And afros.