identities

The Natural Hair Movement Is For Black Women Only. Here’s Why

Drum roll please…

The answer is No. Hell No. Nope.

Credit: Giphy

Let’s be real here. It’s 2017 and Black women are still being shunned around the world because of a simple thing like hair.

Heck, I’m an Afro-Latina and have rocked natural hair for more than 12 years, and I still get snide comments from family members saying I need to “tame” my wild hair and “relax” it again so that it looks nice. I’m proud to say I can laugh those comments off now, but in the beginning of my natural hair journey I couldn’t.

The natural hair movement isn’t some new hair trend. It’s a journey that Black women are taking to reclaim who they are and take back what society stole from them. Afro-Latina’s like myself are so grateful for the Black women who fight to create a space where we can feel beautiful and not zero-in on our flaws.

Like Black women, Afro-Latinas are still fighting to embrace, encourage and normalize natural hair. So there is no room for White women when Black and Afro-Latina women are trying to unpack decades of self-hate, and reaccept what they truly look like.

Black women are pushing against the grain to make society understand that beauty comes in all different curls, coils, kinks, shapes and sizes. The natural hair movement isn’t just about hair either. It encourages people of color, including Afro-Latinas, to embrace their skin, their features, that Western society deems ugly and unworthy of being beautiful.

There is no room for whiteness in the natural hair movement because it is the source of so many Black & Afro-Latina women’s pain. Many of us may not want to admit it, but it’s true. Whiteness is glorified and anything else is made to feel “other.”

So to all the White women out there who want to join the movement, please don’t and understand that it’s about more than just hair. It’s about Black women building self-love and trying to heal as they embrace themselves.

Credit: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

How many times have Black women been told that their hair is unprofessional or ugly? That they’re nappy headed, or that their natural hair is just not good? The answer is thousands of times. How many times has a White woman walked into a hair supply store only to find a small ass product selection hidden in the beauty section?

My point is we’re already made to feel like others in almost every aspect of our lives, from the way we talk, walk, dress, the music we listen to, the books we read, etc. Black women are fighting in these spaces to show we exist. We use this movement to reclaim our time. So no, there is no room for our White sisters here.

Aren’t white women tired of stealing the shine from Black women yet? Or does it not get old? Y’all been winning for years! You can rock your hair straight, curly, frizzy, colored, however, and nobody will question its authenticity. Your hair is already normalized. For Black women we are trying to change the narrative and embrace our natural hair, which Western society tells us we should hate.

Don’t get it twisted though. In no way am I claiming that White women can’t go natural.

If you’re white and you want to rock your natural hair, that’s great! The more the merrier! But please don’t try to piggyback on to a movement that means so much more. Can we live, please?


Editor’s Note: The original headline of the story mentioned Black and Afro-Latina women as two separate people. The intention was to honor what the author wrote, and to make clear an understanding of the different experiences of Black women in American and Latin America. However, it’s come to our attention that the headline implied a stripping of Afro-Latina’s identity as Black women, and that’s something we would never want to do, and we see the problematic nature of it. We deeply apologize for that. The distinction still appears in some parts of the piece to honor the author’s story. 


READ: It Wasn’t Until My Tia Put Relaxer In My Hair That I Learned To Love My Hair – And Not Because It Changed My Texture

What do you think about white women joining the natural hair movement? Tell us in the comments and share this story with friends!

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The Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Education Fired An Educator For Speaking Positively About Black Hair

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The Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Education Fired An Educator For Speaking Positively About Black Hair

On Tuesday, the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Education released a campaign video directed at youth that shattered harmful attitudes surrounding “pelo bueno, pelo malo” — the idea that thin, straight hair is beautiful and afro-textured coils aren’t.

“In the Ministry of Education, no little girl, little boy or grown adult should be discriminated because of their physical appearance. We are committed to guaranteeing the equality in identity,” Marianela Pinales, then director of Gender Equality and Development at the Ministry of Education on the island, said in the video, as young Black and brown boys and girls send similar messages about loving their hair as it is.

The 52-second PSA is long-overdue in the Dominican Republic, one of many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that has held tightly to the white supremacist belief that skin and hair texture that aligns closer to European standards of beauty are both more attractive and deserving of better treatment than those with hues and locks that are darker and thicker.

For that, many on the island and diaspora celebrated the video, including Edith Febles, a respected journalist and natural hair advocate, who aired it on her show, La cosa como es. However, just after the video debut, Febles said Pinales was discharged.

While the Ministry of Education said that Pinales was fired because she missed several recent events — a claim the educator denies — and not because of the video, which some have considered controversial, many find the timing around her termination questionable.

“The timing is very *very* suspicious to say the least,” Amanda Alcántara, the digital media editor at Futuro Media Group, wrote in an article for Latino Rebels.  “Much like the roots of anti-blackness in the country itself, the people in power seem to stop at no cost to maintain white supremacy. This confirms that even as consciousness grows, the problem is systemic.”

On social media, many others have shared similar sentiments.

The campaign, however, is reaching audiences in and outside of the Dominican Republic, where it has the power to challenge beauty ideals and young people’s relationships with their hair.

Read: 6 Afro-Latinas Open Up About What Headwraps Mean To Them

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10 Empowering Songs By Afro-Latinas About Loving Yourself

Entertainment

10 Empowering Songs By Afro-Latinas About Loving Yourself

It’s Black History Month, a time to uplift and celebrate the historic events and people of African descent who have contributed to culture, achieved excellence and sparked social and political change. But it’s also a moment for reflection, of honestly evaluating how much — and how little — has changed for the African diaspora throughout the US, Latin America and beyond.

Confronting the everyday violence, discrimination, disadvantages and inequality Black individuals have and continue to endure, while necessary, could be enraging and upsetting, and makes self-care practices all the more necessary.

This year, whether you’re celebrating the beauty, resilience and magia of blackness with a Black History Month party or well-deserved care day, music can always add to the occasion. Here, a mix of Spanish and English songs by Afro-Latinas and for Black women that unapologetically declare self-love and engage in self-worship to add to any Black joy playlist for the month of February and all the days that follow it.

1. Celebrate being a daughter of “La Diaspora” with Nitty Scott.

When the Afro-Boricua rapper dropped Creature in 2017, she gifted Black women, particularly Black Latinx femmes, with a full project that saw, understood and exalted their existence. None of the bangers on the LP did this as intentionally as the song and short film “La Diaspora.”

2. Make your voice and joy heard with Christina Milian’s “Say I”

When the cubana teamed with Young Jeezy to drop this 2009 bop, she encouraged women to “do what you want to do. Don’t let nobody tell you what you’re supposed to do.” And that’s some pretty liberating ishh.

3. Some might call you “CRZY,” but Kehlani wants you to embrace the term.

Confidently dancing to the beat of your own drum, especially as a woman of color, is neither expected nor welcomed, largely because it makes it more difficult for white supremacy to thrive. With “CRZY,” the part-Mexican R&B songstress encourages femmes to embrace and reclaim the slights people throw at you for being a radiant, go-getting mami.

4. And Calma Carmona’s “I Got Life” shows that there is so much to be joyous about.

In her Spanglish rendition of Nina Simone’s “I Ain’t Got No … I Got Life,” the Puerto Rican soul singer declares all the beauty she has, from her voice, to her hair, to her smile to her life, in a world that told her she has nothing.

5. Something else you have: “Tumbao.”

In la reina de salsa’s multi-generational hit “La Negra Tiene Tumbao,” the late cubana Celia Cruz reminds Black women of that unfading, indescribable, swing and swag that Black women carry with them in every space they occupy.

6. Prefer an English joint? Cardi B will also remind you how “Bad” you are.

With “She Bad,” featuring YG, the Dominican-Trinidadian rapper engages in self-worship and encourages other Black women to feel themselves and own their sexuality without apprehension or apologies.

7. ‘Cause Like Maluca told you, you’re “la mami del block.”

In the Dominican singer-rapper’s mega bop “El Tigeraso,” Maluca makes the indisputable claim that Afro-Latinas have it all: “tengo fly, tengo party, tengo una sabrosura.”

8. And like Farina says, not everyone is deserving of your greatness.

In “la nena fina’s” urbano-pop jam “Mucho Pa’ Ti,” the colombiana raps what everyone knows: She, and you, are too much — too poppin’, too powerful, too radiant — for the unworthy.

9. Now that you’re reminded of who you are, enter every space like Melii walked into the club in her music video for “Icey.”

With sparkly, high-heeled white boots, a laced v-neck bodysuit, some tiny red shades and confidence that entraps you, dominicana-cubana Melii knows her value — as a woman and an artist — and watching or listening to how self-assured she is will undoubtedly rub off on you.

10. ‘Cause at the end of the day, you’re a “Million Dollar Girl” like Trina.

Like the Dominican-Bahamian rapper, alongside Keri Hilson and Diddy, told you in 2010: “Baby if I want it, I got it / ‘Cause I’ll be gettin’ some more / ‘Cause I’m a million dollar girl, for sure.”

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