Dear Young women growing up in today's society:
As I was walking through the halls of the job today, I was approached by several different students with regard to my hair. My hair has been braided since the beginning of the schoolyear so many students don't know/forgot that I do not chemically relax my hair. The conversation went something like this...
Child: Ms. Strong, why don't you let me perm your hair?
Me: Because I have no desire to chemically straighten my hair.
Child: Do you know how long and pretty your hair would be if you would straighten it; why you gotta wear all those naps on the top of your head.
Me: Because this is how God made me.
Child: If God had really wanted you to look like that, he would not have invented perm. I don't understand how you can walk around looking like that..
I am an adult, and I must admit that the conversation got to me a little bit. I can only imagine what it is like for my children (like mine) who have made the decision to grow up chemical free,in an age where the chemcial relaxer, weave and wig are billion dollar businesses. India Irie wrote a song called, "I am not my hair," in it she talks about the different phases that she has gone through with her hair as a woman of color. I understand her trials, hell, I have been through her trials, but from there, our ideas become divergent because unlike India, I AM my hair. It is the crown upon my head and I feel obligated to treat it as such. I also feel obligated to speak out when I witness young ladies being bullied because they choose not to subscribe to the dominant paradigm of chemical relaxers, weaves, and wigs. Everyone has a right to their opinion, but as I have always argued, you do not have a right to force those opionons on others, nor do you have the right to make anyone feel like less than a person because their beliefs are not necessarily the same as yours. Especially with regard to hair. I am as God made me, I have chosen not to drastically alter that which he has created, this is a choice by which I stand; this is a choice that I argue all African American young ladies have. Please stop taking their power away by making them feel as if they have done something wrong by choosing to be natural. Allow them to make their own choices and when they do, don't malign or ostricize them for them.
Bullying comes in many forms, just because this not one of the most dominant forms, doesn't make it any less bullying.
Be conscious, be aware, and have those courageous conversations...
Carolyn Strong, BulliesStink Founder & Author
Carolyn Strong, MAT MEd