Are Afro’s Still a Political Statement in 2013?

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Angela Davis Afro

This question was asked in a Huffington Post article that I read a few days ago and it surprised me. I suppose I was surprised because most of us know that in the 1960’s and 1970’s Afro’s were a form of political protest because of the racial injustices of the times. One of the most popular faces of that movement was Angela Davis and her beautiful Afros. I also think of Pam Grier and her Afro in her blaxploitation film “Coffy.” It never crossed my mind that in this day and age people still equated Afro’s with taking some type of “fight the power” political stance, but then again it also shows you the power of the Afro.

Apparently Afros to some, especially in the corporate world, are a sign of resistance. You’re viewed as a radical and therefore your Afro is inappropriate or even unprofessional for the corporate work place. The thought of Afros being intimidating to some in 2013 makes me laugh. I laugh because for one Afros didn’t suddenly come on the scene in the 1960’s or 1970’s. They’ve been around since the beginning of time. Yes it was used as a form of protest during a tumultuous time in American history, but times have changed. Not everyone who wears an Afro is making a political statement today.

If anything the statement that’s being made now is “My natural hair may be kinky, it may be nappy and full of tight curls, but you know what? My natural hair is BEAUTIFUL!” The statement being made today is “Having chemically straightened hair is not the definition of beauty. Embracing the hair we were born with is what’s beautiful regardless of what media or society says.”

I have friends and family members who have natural hair and work in the corporate world and have experienced dirty looks or insensitive, ignorant comments from their workmates or bosses regarding their hair. There are some who are discouraged from going natural for fear of the company looking too “ethnic.” It’s quite sad and disheartening that in 2013 we’re still dealing with this kind of ignorance because of wearing our natural hair.

Education is the only thing that can help with misconceptions about African American hair. Not everyone has the same reasons for going natural, not everyone has the same reasons for rocking an Afro. Me personally, I’m rocking my Afro because I’ve always loved them. I think they are a crown of beauty. Afros come in all shapes, sizes, colors and textures. It takes confidence to wear an Afro, and for me the bigger my Afro gets the more confident I feel. As my hair grows longer I definitely plan on experimenting with other styles, but for now I’m very content with my Afro and big hoop earrings. There’s nothing political about loving what God gave me.

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2 responses »

  1. Love this. Great points in this post. I have a friend who wears a short afro, and since she recently lost her job, she’s had several interviews. She has worn a wig to her interviews so as not to “scare away” any employment possibilities. This makes me sad. If an Indian person or a Caucasian can wear their hair natural, why can’t I? It may not be smoothly textured, but it’s still my hair. It’s who I am. If you want to employ me, you want to employ ME. I know that’s easier said than done, however. I applaud this post. Thanks for it. I’d like to see people become more educated and let go of the “straight hair is the standard of beauty” mentality. My husband said to me once that my hair has so much more ‘character’ than the average straight ‘wrap’ so many beautiful sisters have worn for so long. It’s nice to think of it that way: our hair has character!! 🙂

  2. You summed up my feelings Muhala. It makes me very sad to hear some of the stories that I hear from natural friends and family members about what they go through at work or when trying to land a job. How horrible that your friend has to go to those extremes just to land a job! This is the society we live in unfortunately. Who knew one’s natural hair could invoke such fear in people? “It’s too ethnic. We want to present a certain image for our company, a more clean cut image.” WOW. Just wow. I’m so thankful that I work for an advertising agency that is very free thinking and encourages individuality from all of it’s employees. My natural hair journey has gotten a lot of compliments and support across the board and it seems the bigger my fro gets the more my fellow workmates love it! I wish this could be the case for everyone. Like you said, their not hiring your HAIR to work, they’re hiring the PERSON and the skills you can bring to that company. It’s funny you mentioned what your husband said about your natural hair having character – he’s so right! African American natural hair stands out on it’s own – it always have. The things we can do with our hair, the various styles we can put it in is endless and that makes us tap into our creative side on a regular basis. I think that’s beautiful!!!!!

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