When I was growing up I knew that I wasn’t, and could never be, the type of beautiful that was popular. My hair, more so than my dark skin, was the deciding factor. I was almost ten years old the first time my hair was permed. I remember the smell and sting when my scalp started to burn.
To be bombarded with images of Black women portrayed mostly one way – with long, straight hair, which is not natural – leaves a lasting effect on a little Black girl every time she sees her reflection. She doesn’t understand that she was born into a white supremacist society that devalues and underestimates Black women. Instead, she only knows that she doesn’t have “good hair.”
The natural hair movement, which has been on the rise since early 2000s, has scores of young Black women embracing their natural hair, or wearing styles inspired by our African sisters. Our guiding light is the realization that, as Black women, we can control our image. This healing journey towards self-love in the face of historical and prevailing hate, disrespect, and erasure is power. Our hair is power.
This photography series was the runner-up of the photography category of our eighth annual Writing in the Margins contest. Photography entries were judged by Jalani Morgan. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Regina Public Interest Research Group (RPIRG) to this year’s contest. Briarpatch will be accepting entries for the ninth Writing in the Margins contest in September 2019.
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