The mane debate

Dear sisters,

I respect the newly resurrected natural hair movement where many girls have ditched the perms and the relaxers in favour of their naturally curly hair. I celebrate your decision. Congratulations, more grease to your hair elbow, you rock.  Now, I wish you would stop using your decision to go natural as a reason to question the authenticity of the ethnicity of girls like me who love to perm their hair. No, long flowing hair is not part of an illusion of being white. And, no, the fact that I perm my hair does not mean I hate my heritage. It means I want a quicker, less painful way of managing my tresses.


Over the years, I have patiently listened to the various reasons for going natural. Some are suspicious of the long term effects of the chemicals used to straighten hair. Some cannot bear the financial burden of hairdressers. Others go natural as a political/cultural statement to liberate themselves from post slavery inferiority complexes.  Ironically, they cut the chains of bondage only to be imprisoned by the notion that hair texture is linked to ethnic pride. Why do we continue to ignore the fact that  there is not a homogenous texture that your hair must be in order to qualify as a proud black woman. I am a proud African woman. The aroma of our cuisines turns me on, the diversity of our people makes me proud, the intonations of our languages makes me smile and the variety of hair from Tunisia to Tanzania makes me know that I love my hair.


In its natural state, my hair is thick, curly, and particularly responsive to weather patterns. I have witnessed my hair transform from its combed out 6 inches of soft, kinky, glory into a hard, shrivelled patch of hair. Except for dreadlocks, I have worn my natural hair in every imaginable fashion to inject versatility and manageability to it. I have done the cornrows, the threading, the braids, the stretching comb etc. and frankly, I do not have the time or patience to sit through another session. This is why I bless the soul of Garrett Morgan who created hair relaxers. Thanks to him I have found a another way of loving my hair. So please save me the sharp tongue, and the judgement.


Just as you cannot measure the veracity of someone's ethnicity by the shade of their complexion, or how fluently they speak Ebonics, Swahili or Hausa, you also cannot judge me by how I chose to keep my hair texture. 

Peace out

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  1. No comment this time. I certainly Agree.
    I love your hair too you have beautiful Hair and I will not cut it if that was my hair.

  2. u kno i hve felt d guilt of goin all natural cos it seems cool n ye goin bak 2 our roots etc etc! im not cuttin my hair..not jus yet! i dnt think dis head will look nice bald! yes its more manageable.sum1 tol me i shud strt texturizin cos its less damagin, das proli tru..mite try it sme time!until den perm it is! o u shud do 1 of weaves! gud 1 amma as usual

  3. Are people seriously starting to judge others by hair Amma? Because I would find that ridiculous! I am one of those who went natural - for many reasons. First, my hair was damaged from a bad touch up that I hated it most of the time. Then it was summer and I needed to go swimming everyday and short natural hair is perfect. Then (yes guilty….) it was kind of cool as I liked the look on the other women that I had seen the afro with. But my hair is really thick and it is so hard to manage it so guess what….am turning back to the perm:) Back to the judgment issue, I think people who judge others in ways like these have not found their own inner peace and satisfaction. I have always been resentful to the "holier than thou" attitude…

  4. Thank you! I don't think anyone can really deny this - alot of natural hair sisters feel it is a testament to their heritage, culture and ethnicity. It's what makes them black and beautiful. My rebuttal is always this - then don't use, wear or promote ANYTHING western. And I mean anything. Don't even wear nail polish, or eat burgers, or use a credit card, those aren't traditionally African activities. Just because you wear your hair natural and wear african print and beads doesn't make you blacker than me.
    I relax my hair because it's easy, and i've seen the time energy and effort that goes into maintaining natural hair. Also I don't want to braid my hair and undoubtedly if I have natural hair, i'd have to braid at some point. For me, like you, Amma, it's about convenience.
    So bottom line, whatever your decisions in life may be, don't judge others who don't tow the same line. On that note, I guess I shouldn't questions those who wear weaves 365 days of the year. I'm working on it.

  5. Not all "sisters" feel this way. I don't assume that all black women who perm their hair hate natural hair or are self-loathing negro's, and not all women with natural hair feel this way about those who choose to perm. It's unfortunate that you had to encounter such self righteous attitudes about how you wear your hair but it is equally unfortunate that your article makes it seem like the natural hair movement as a whole is this judgmental or frankly even cares that much about what you do with your hair as this is certainly not the case for every natural woman.

  6. Nissa, I wish more people are like you. I love and support the natural hair movement. I just don’t enjoy the self-righteous judegement that is directed at people who insist on perming their hair. I do not like it when people also scorn natural sisters, and pressure them to perm their hair. I love people to wear their hair any way which makes them feel comfortable. But like I said in the article we should all stop judging each other’s ethnic pride based on the shade of their complexion or the texture of their hair.

  7. Boakyewaa, 2 thumbs up to you. My article was a rejection of ridiculous benchmarks like complexion, hair or dialects to determine how Black you are

  8. Kim your hair is beautiful and I know you will work it irrespective of how straight or curly it is.

  9. The way a person chooses to wear their hair should be their personal choice. I prefer to wear my hair natural. One of my sisters has relaxed hair. We are both as African as ever .  I don't intend to influence her to ever wear her hair natural. I refuse! We all do what makes us happy and what works for us. Hair is nothing but hair and as long as the style pleases you, that is all that matters.  And by the way, wearing natural hair that is coarse and super dubba tightly coiled also takes a lot of time, patience and commitment . You have to want it that badly to get it. It is not fair to judge someone by how they choose to wear their hair.

  10. Interesting, but I do not believe you will find ''a lot'' of Black women who oppose Permed hair, I think it's the other way round. You are very likely to be sort of critiqued for having a natural hair than a permed hair. I remember the first time I chopped my hair, after having had perm for like 5years and the kind of buzzing I got, somebody even called my Mum to complain, It was almost unimaginable to some folks, that I had the guts to cut ( as they put it ) my lovely long hair, as if with a natural hair, it will look less desiring. There are those who instruct their hair stylist to wear their weaves for it to look natural on them, not because it looks better that way, but because they will lie that it's their own hair, ( don't get me wrong, It's yours because you bought it ,but God did not give it to you.) and there are those who look at any Black woman with natural hair, like it's a sin to have your kinky locks out for the whole world to see and there are those who will never allow even their spouse to see their natural hair, and my guess is they must have very good reasons.

    For me, I'm a chameleon when it comes to my hair. I change the look of my hair at least every 2 years, And why wouldn't I? There is so much to choose from…… weave, perm, braids, twist etc The bigger problem is not with our selves, It's with our establishments. where ever your stand is on this topic lovely ladies, I'm sure you will agree with me that It's ridiculous to know that in 2010, an Afro on a black woman is interpreted, called or perceived to be ''a frightening look'' ''angry black woman they call it''. That is what is serious and problematic, that we are not allowed to ''wear our hair'', which ever way we like and at which ever place we choose.

    Some people also claim that the perm is slowly but surely giving us cancer, well maybe, but what isn't these days??? I guess when you think about it, all die be die!!!

  11. Obaa. you raise a good point another friend blogged about. some people respond agressively against natural hair. they think it is an unrefined way of presenting ourselves. I resent that sentiment. Like Lauren said, hair is a personal choice. we should not use it as a means to tear each other down.

  12. I love that you and your sister both wear your hair differently yet nobody, and i mean nobody can doubt how African you both are. Our natural hair is tough to manage, I wish more people will understand that some of us run from that committment and that is why we straighten our hair

  13. Hair is very important to sistahs, sometimes I think a little too much. I personally were headwraps most of the time. Why? Because I can and because it looks good on me. It has become my signature of sorts. It has illicited remarks…bigoted and stupid ones but it doesn't bother me. How I wear my hair, whether it be natural, processed, or wrapped is a personal decision. I do not dress to please others so it stands to reason that I don't choose my hairstyle to please others. Political statements are for the political arena therefore I try not to impose any style at my place of work. I could surely wear headwraps indicative of a more afrocentric nature but do not. The style of wrap I choose for work can be worn by any ethnic group and I get lots of compliments from all. To each his or her reach. I am my hair, with emphasis on I and MY.

  14. I have to disagree with all y'all.  Straightening your hair says something about your willingness to accept yourself and be accepted for who and what you truly are.

  15. I LOVE this. My hair was meant for no-lye relaxers! I love my permed hair and have decided to go natural just for a change. Nothing political. I like variety, and will probably be permed again in a few years. Hooray to you!

  16. I have never commented to a relaxed woman about her chemical choice but… and without exaggeration… I have had DOZENS of permies question & deride me about my natural choice.  Complete strangers have somehow felt the need to let me know "how much prettier" or more attractive my hair would be if only I "straighten that mess out".   This door swings both ways - we ALL need to move on.

  17. What Nissa Said.

  18. the door swings both ways, I love that

  19. Thank you for commenting. I have to visit your website too.

  20. Oju it’s another way of loving yourself

  21. @ Nancy Love a girl who struts her confidence in her own way

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