*Photography By Studio52 Clothing From Evans Clothing, Live Unlimited And Hotter Shoes
It seems that the entire planet is talking about America at the moment. They have just elected the new president, enjoyed the Superbowl Halftime show and black history month is in full swing. I’ve been watching a lot of American TV shows and news postings lately and even though the celebration of black history month doesn’t come to the UK until October, it got me thinking about the icons who have inspired me, important people in my family and of course my own blackness…
I come from a multi racial family as many of my readers know. My mother is half Irish and Trinidadian and my father is Jamaican. In both sides of my family the Caribbean influences have hints of Indian and Chinese. Having said all of that people are often interested to know where my family are from and having been exposed to all sides of my culture I have always identified as a mixed race person. I personally find that embracing a part of myself doesn’t have to mean ignoring the other and I try to merge the different areas of my background into the various areas as life such as my diet, the music I create and listen to and of course when it comes to my looks to name a few.
For the past few months I have been wearing my hair natural and it has been an interesting journey. I had no idea how much work and upkeep is required in taking care of my hair or how I would be perceived with the different styles I might wear. I’m still trying to get used to it to be honest with you and at times I find myself frustrated. I am finding that the most supportive people around me on my hair journey actually happen to be my white friends. I had expected in all truth that I would be bombarded with people asking questions about my hair and wanting to touch it out of a somewhat negative interest but, I was pleasantly surprised in that area and was received with positivity and enthusiasm. My friends seem to really love the “REAL” part of me and think that I should take my look to the next level with more experimental hair styles. In contrast to this I have found that some of my own family members have had some minor issues with my hair and how I have chosen to style it on occasion. I have been teased quite a lot recently and given the nickname Harriet Tubman. What’s awkward for me is that this has been given to me in a negative sense. I guess wearing my twists with scarfs or bandanas reminds some people of the kind of images we see from times past or what we see from documents surrounding slavery or something. In truth I am slightly saddened by this for several reasons. For one thing I have a lot to learn when it comes to taking care of my 4c hair but I find that using a woman like Ms Tubman as an insult is insane! For one thing she was a humanitarian, abolitionist, american spy and armed scout during the civil war, what an incredible women with an amazing legacy.
I will always enjoy a variety of different hair styles, wigs, natural and styles in between. One thing that is apparent though is that a black or brown woman wearing her hair natural to some people looks like a rebellious action or a political statement. I never would have thought that sporting the very hair that grows from my scalp would be viewed in such a way. The thing is, I will continue to use these situations as a talking point to raise awareness to things. Many of my friends and even some family members had no idea how time consuming, expensive and difficult wearing natural hair could be until they were witness to what I go through. Washing your hair can take between 3-5 hours sometimes, luckily stylists advise that women with hair like mine only wash their hair every 1-2 weeks!
I am enjoying embracing myself and learning more about influential and special people who play a huge role in black history. As a Londoner I can honestly say that what is taught in schools about black history is so minimal and it’s a shame because there are so many amazing things that can be shared. I don’t think of myself as a particularly political person but I do have a big opinion and the readiness to share it if asked or if the moment requires it.
*Photography By Studio52 Clothing From Evans Clothing And Live Unlimited
I simply think that with what’s going on in America at the moment and to a degree here in the UK; that it’s important for everyone in the world regardless of their ethnicity or their experience to speak out and share their stories. I really believe that the only way barriers are broken down, people come together and change is a possibility is through talking and sharing. People don’t understand or they can be fearful or what’s new or different and I find that even something as simple as one’s hair can be an interesting place to start and get the dialogue going. These are the things that brought for the civil rights movement, feminist movement and spawned the welcoming change to the LGBTQ community all of the world. We all have rights, we all want acceptance and love and I just think that people really need to listen to that old saying our parents told all of us “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. The thing is we have become able to experience different genres of music, various styles of cuisine and even adopt customs from our brothers and sisters. I really think a lot has been achieved but we need to take the time to look at the topic of skin colour and the areas around it, otherwise we stand still or even worse move backwards in our way of thinking.
I may see myself as a woman of mixed race but I have always embraced areas of my blackness and I’m proud that I can do more of this through something as small as wearing my hair the way God intended for me to have it!