Racist hair rules at Pretoria Girls High School are suspended pending an investigation, according to BBC World News.
"There will be no learner that will be victimized purely because of their hairstyle until the School Governing Body have finalized a new code of conduct that deals specifically with this issue,” said Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi in an article for Eye Witness News.
Over the weekend, girls at Pretoria High School gained national attention posting testimonials, photos and videos of their protest. #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh trended as girls as young as 13 dared to take a stand.
The victory in Pretoria is a victory not only for girls in South Africa, but for every black person, because the policing of black hair is never just about hair. It’s a whitewashing of blackness in professional and educational environments. Policing our hair is a type of racism that hides in company handbooks and school codes of conduct.
Vanessa VanDyke, Ashley Davis and Jessica Sims are just a few of the black women and girls who made headlines over the past few years who faced suspension or being fired over their natural hair in the U.S. The problem is widespread and systemic, and a threat to black women and girls anywhere. These black students in South Africa remind us to keep going as we continue to navigate spaces where our full identities are not welcome.
We can look to the victory at Pretoria Girls High as inspiration to continue disrupting spaces until we are accepted, fully and completely, baby hair and afros and all.
Have you ever faced a similar situation regarding your natural hair? What did you do? Share in the comments below!
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Mayvenn, a beauty company that allows stylists to cut out the beauty supply store and sell directly to their clients, created a video taking men at the company and asking them to style black women's hair. Although a few of the men demonstrated great confidence in the beginning of the video, they soon realized all the work that goes into getting our edges laid, space buns perfect and cornrows in formation.
The men watched a video on how to do the style they were assigned one time and then had to try to replicate it. The results were... well, just watch the video above and see for yourself. But they all realized the hard work that stylists put in.
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I remember those evenings sitting on a stack of pillows while my mom combed through my hair with a wide-toothed comb. As I slowly inched my head in the direction of the television, she would take the comb and scratch vigorously at my scalp in the hopes of removing the layer of dandruff that had formed...again. I winced at the pain as the comb reached my crown, the part of my head that hurt the most whenever she scratched at it or tied the hair bows too tight. Once she was done scraping away the flakes she coated her finger with blue grease and rubbed it into my scalp. By then I had managed to inch my head far enough to where I was finally able to watch Rugrats, but my mom put her hands on either side of my face and whipped my head back around with me facing forward once again..
Then I heard the words pass between her lips, “tender-headed.”
She said them with a lot of frustration. I annoyed my hairdressers, too, because I wouldn't let them manhandle my head in order to achieve the style my mom wanted for me. Surprise, surprise, they also called me tender-headed.
There's this idea that us tender heads are faking the severity of our pain because people assume we don't want to get our hair done, or that we are the type who like to whine (which is ridiculous). Why would I fake something that seriously hurts? Luckily, I didn't have many scalp problems throughout my teenage years or my early college days because, for some reason, my then-relaxed and straightened hair had alleviated my issues.
But four years and two big chops later, I abandoned the curly crack and the alluring heat of the flat iron and went natural.
I thought I had it all figured out, but as my hair got longer, my scalp health seemed to worsen. All the coconut, shea and olive oils I piled onto my scalp did nothing to ease the recurring pain, and styling my own hair soon became a nightmare. The dandruff returned along with intense itching and pain so bad I couldn't so much as touch certain parts of my head. I had no idea what was going on, but I realized that I was tender-headed once more. I had a feeling that my tender head was a result of something more serious, something worthy of a visit to the doctor.
So I finally made an appointment with my local dermatologist because enough was enough.
I explained to her what was going on with my scalp, then nervously parted my hair for her. She chuckled and waived it off like it was the easiest diagnosis in the world. “Oh, that?” She smiled, “You just have seborrheic dermatitis.”
For those of you who don't know, seborrheic dermatitis is a condition that produces oily flakes and red patches, itching, burning and stinging despite having good hygiene. Though the cause is unknown, it's said to be related to a yeast that lies in the oil secretion of the skin, or an inflammatory response related to psoriasis. It's a lifelong condition that flares up and calms down, and can only be treated because there isn't a cure. Simply put, it explained a lot.
So all it took was a doctor consultation that lasted two minutes.
You best believe that once I left the dermatologist's office I raided my local Walgreens and bought all the weird-smelling dandruff shampoo I could carry. My already-too-long hair routine was going to go through a massive overhaul and I wasn’t too enthused about having to use medication for my scalp condition; but whatever would keep my head from hurting I vowed to suck up and do.
In the wake of the growing natural hair movement, I feel that we need to address all aspects of black hair health, including our scalps. The term “tender-headed” is very dismissive of underlying issues that might need to be addressed, such as eczema, psoriasis or even alopecia. It's a stigma that we need to re-evaluate in order to promote optimal hair health as well as our overall health. Those of us with sensitive scalps should be treated with care, not disdain, because we all want that slay-the-game goddess hair, too.
What are your opinions about the term and how it affects those with sensitive scalps? Were you tender-headed but later realized they had a scalp condition? Leave your comments below! Press that share button and tag a friend who needs to read this!
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When I recently complemented a friend on her full, shiny, natural tresses, she responded with two words, Blue Magic. Hold up...hair grease? I flashed back to my childhood ritual of sitting perfectly still on a chair next to the stove and getting my scalp oiled with Blue Magic before having a hot comb run through my hair. Long since that time, I abandoned hair grease as I transitioned through a number of phases, from relaxed, wrapped, braided and back to natural.
When it comes to hair grease, the prevailing school of thought has maintained that the density of the heavy compound clogs pores and actually stunts hair growth and weighs hair down. In my transition back to natural, I've leaned heavily on organic hair dressings, smoothies and oils. It never once occurred to me to revisit the old staple of hair grease.
With a bit of research, I quickly found that I am actually late to the party, there's a whole hair grease movement happening with brands such as Blue Magic adding new lines to their classic formula and natural hair vloggers such as @AfricanExport singing their praises to the hair grease gawds in product reviews like the one below:
Obviously, preferences and outcomes will vary. But with this reawakening of the classic black household staple, good old fashioned hair grease might be worth a second look.
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Author and health and wellness expert Orjanette Bryant wants to ensure that women are approaching their hair care the right way. Her book, Nubia’s Guide to Going Natural: A Holistic Approach to Transitioning Your Natural Hair, shares some of her best secrets and uniquely engages the conversation from a health perspective.
Drawing on her background as a registered nurse, she provides a thorough examination of hair care products, their ingredients and health ramifications, in addition to what regimens are most effective for certain hair types.
“It is very important for women to be educated about their own hair,” Bryant said, "Even when you are at the salon, you need to be able to ask questions. Stylists may be talented, but they have general training and are not specialized in all hair types. Learn about what kind of hair you have and the regimen that works best you.”
Also, Bryant stresses the need for women to abandon perms and other harmful chemicals. Her motto: “If you can eat it, then it is safe for your hair,” underscores her belief that organic products are the way to go.
Several years ago, Bryant started mixing her own organic ingredients from her garden and kitchen. She adopted this health-conscious approach after a series of deaths and illnesses in her family. Her stepfather died from prostate cancer, and her grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Years later, Bryant herself had to undergo a hysterectomy after developing fibroids.
It was then that she decided to take her health more seriously.
She committed to maintaining a more active lifestyle and monitoring what she ate. Those changes not only made her feel better, but they also improved her hair.
“If you are not healthy, your hair is not going to be healthy. If you are stressed, your hair will be stressed,” Bryant said, “We tend to get complacent. We neglect our bodies and then by age 60 we end up on medication for hypertension or for diabetes. If you are not healthy internally, your hair will reflect that. Start with taking care of yourself now.”
To assist those looking to transition and improve the overall quality of their hair, Bryant offers the following tips:
Get rid of the perm and chemicals. Once you leave them behind, never return.
Always read the labels and learn about the ingredients and the effects they can have on your hair and your body in general.
Identify what type of hair you have. For example, high porosity hair requires a different hair care regimen than low porosity hair.
Understand your medical history. If you have dry hair, it could be a result of your diet, the medication you are taking or genetics.
If you get your hair done at a salon, make sure to ask questions and talk to your beautician.
Consider using only organic products. Not only is it better for your hair, but it will save you a lot of money.
Nubia’s Guide to Going Natural is currently available on Amazon, Author House and Barnes and Noble, and is also available via e-book. To learn more about Orjanette Bryant and her products, visit www.nubianenterprise.biz.
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I remember as a child feeling very uncomfortable with my dark skin and kinky short hair. I wished to be someone else. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I embraced my natural beauty and I made it my life’s mission to love myself unapologetically.
Now that I'm raising three beautiful brown curly cuties, I make it a point to be very active in helping them build their self-confidence and to cultivate their appreciation for their natural beauty. I truly believe and follow the motto, "Lead by example." I can't expect words to be the only tool with which I teach. I have to show them.
Here are 5 tips that I've used to help my children love, embrace and appreciate the skin they’re in.
Lead by example
The best way I've learned to teach my children anything is by being a positive role model. I try my best to be the best me I can be so they can be the best them they can be. This includes loving and taking care of myself.
Provide other positive role models
As an active member of the natural hair community, an educator and an author, I attend a lot of events. I bring my 9-year-old twins to 90 percent of the events I attend, which gives them the opportunity to watch, talk to and learn from other beautiful naturalistas. This has made a huge impact on their view of their natural hair. Instead of my twins viewing straight hair as holiday and special occasion hair, they view their afros as such. The bigger the afro, the better for them.
Books, books and more books
I have a plethora of books about natural hair. My 9-year-old twins have full access to my books, and boy oh boy do they use them. They use them when they are practicing braiding and twisting their dolls hair and they read the books about children celebrating their natural hair. Find some kid-friendly books here.
Refer to their hair and skin in positive ways
Remove any negative words about our hair and skin from your vocabulary. It can be very easy to accidentally have a slip of words, especially when you are frustrated. Many of us were raised hearing how 'nappy' and 'bad' our hair was and how our dark skin was not as pretty as light skin. Be very diligent in not allowing the past to resurface when dealing with your children. Use positive words to describe their natural attributes, and be genuine – they can sense the difference.
Let them watch an episode of Soul Train
Yup the Soul Train. They might not appreciate the fashion, but they will appreciate seeing beautiful people of all shades with their afros and afro puffs dance down the soul train line.
Visit my Natural Hair Care for Children on Facebook for great styling ideas, tutorials, DIY hair care recipes and more.
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I was days away from a weekend trip to New Orleans when I decided to make an appointment at the barbershop. Yes, I’m one of those guys who will not go to the barbershop without an appointment. Time is just too precious to me, and I'd rather not spend all evening in the barbershop.
It had been a while since I'd gotten my hair cut by my longtime barber, as I've recently started cutting my own hair. I arrived at the shop where I was greeted with the 'How you doings?' and 'What’s Ups?' I sat in the chair, and as it raised, I knew I was going to be fresh for the weekend. I told my barber that I wanted a shape-up and a line-up with the straight razor, which is a little out of the ordinary for me. I usually go against the grain and opt out of the straight razor for fear of being cut, but I’ll come back to this later. My barber and I had a brief conversation about everything from life, travel and what’s on TV.
A few minutes into the haircut, some guys came into the shop and my barber struck up a conversation with them. Just as the words began to leave his mouth, he picked up the straight razor. I tilted my head back, believing everything was going to be okay. He gently glided the razor along the line of my beard. Just when I though he had finished, I saw that he pulled out this white chalky substance and smeared it around the left side of my face. I thought nothing of it at the time. He dusted off the excess hair and gave me a hand mirror. I examined it; I gave him the nod of assurance, and I proceeded to pay. I dapped him up and headed out the door.
When I got home, I went to the restroom. Just before heading out, I noticed something. Above my lips was a cut about a half inch in size. He had cut me with the straight razor and had proceeded to cover it up! I was immediately annoyed and grew angry with myself because I knew I should have just cut it myself or not asked for the straight razor.
After this ordeal, I was reminded of why I decided to start cutting my own hair in the first place.
Learn from my mistakes: Here’s why you should cut your own hair:
It saves money
If you go to the barbershop every week, you could be spending upwards of $100 a month, which equals $1,200 a year. Think about it — that equals out to a lot of happy hour drinks or money you could be saving to buy a home or add to your emergency fund.
It saves time
No more sitting in rush hour traffic attempting to make it to the barbershop or waiting around the shop while your barber talks, watches TV or engages in any other time-wasting activity.
You know you
Who buys your clothes? You, right? No one can understand exactly how you want to look better than you. If you learn how to cut your own hair, you'll be a master of your appearance and be filled with pride knowing you did it yourself.
We live in a world of information that can be accessed within seconds. If there’s something you want to learn, you can Google it or find a YouTube tutorial. YouTube came in handy when you needed to assemble your IKEA furniture, right? I'm confident you can find instructional videos that will show you how to cut and or style your hair. Just ask any woman who went natural within the past five years, she’ll be singing the praises of YouTube, too.
To accomplish this, you'll need to have to right tools. If you can, scope out the tools that your barber uses, because your skin is already happy with them. I highly recommend Wahl Senior to get an even cut all over, but these are also perfect for fades. For the lineup, I use the Andis T-Outliner, which can give you the sharpest lines, making your haircut look like it was done by a professional.
After a bit of practice and watching a few videos, you’ll be glad you took the leap and cut your own hair. Other than the cost- and time-saving benefits, you’ll walk away with a newfound confidence knowing that you mastered something that will make you look and feel better.
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The unconditional faith we place in the hands of our barbers exemplifies the secret love that we have for our hair, even if we aren't always willing to admit it. Our hair is so important to us that a fresh cut can completely transform the way we view ourselves. Talking about it from a purely aesthetic point of view is widely accepted, but I've found that discussing the health of our hair is much more taboo. So, let's talk.
As a kid, I knew nothing about my hair except that it was dark brown. To give you an example of how little I knew, I would condition first and then follow it up with shampoo because 'c' comes before 's' in the alphabet (don't laugh at me, I didn't know any better, man). Eventually I found out I had been doing it wrong all my life, so to make things simple, I started using Old Spice 3-in-1 shampoo/conditioner/body wash about twice each day. By the time I was a sophomore in high school, my hair was so thin and weak that it would constantly fall out all over my desk every time I moved my head. The thought of one day being bald petrified me, but I knew I was headed down that road if something didn't change. The only problem was that I had no idea what to change because I was convinced that my struggle was purely biological.
When I explained the situation to my girlfriend, she asked me about my hair care regimen. I wasn't sure how to respond. I didn't understand what that had to do with my dilemma. It wasn't until I started using some of the products she recommended that I realized how much I had been neglecting my hair. For the past few years now I've been practicing healthy hair habits and it has changed my life.
Taking care of your hair as a black man requires that you let go of your false sense of hypermasculinity, which is a journey within itself. For example, at first I ordered all my products online because I was too embarrassed to be seen buying things with pink labels (#MasculinitySoFragile). Although it might take some time, I promise your life will be much easier once you abandon that kind of mentality altogether.
Without further ado, here are some tips to keep your hair healthy:
1. Wash less
There's no need to wash your hair every day. It dries the hair out, making it more susceptible to breakage.
2. Avoid harsh chemicals
Sulfates, parabens, formaldehyde, phthalates and more can really damage our hair. Stay away at all costs.
The LOC method (leave-in conditioner, oil, cream) is a quick and effective way to keep your hair moisturized.
4. Protect your hair at night
Whether you have a fade or an afro, it's important to protect your hair at night because cotton pillowcases strip your hair of its moisture. Durags work for shorter hair, but not so much for long hair. Don't be ashamed to wear a bonnet (check out #BonnetBoyz on Twitter for inspiration). You could also buy a satin pillowcase.
5. Listen to your hair
Try new products, but don't hold onto something if it doesn't work. Everything doesn't work for everyone.
6. Be confident
Taking care of yourself doesn't make you any less of a man.
Disclaimer: The aforementioned tips are enough to get you thinking about the health of your hair, but as you become more conscientious, you'll find that there are thousands and thousands of articles written online by black women that will guide you through your journey.
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In 2014, I made the brave decision to take my talents across the pond and study abroad in London, England. I had an amazing time, but one night in particular always filters its way to the top of my mind. I was in a club one night and in a fit of drunken stupor, a random British savant rubbed his hands through my hair. Now, my first instinct was to box this fool. But as I dwelled on the situation further, I knew this wasn’t this man’s fault. This white man knows not what he can’t see. Therefore, I dedicate this post to him, and any other unaware savants.
Everyday I rise from my slumber at exactly 6:23 a.m. Not because I physically need to be up at 6:23AM, but because Black Twitter usually gets interesting past my bedtime, and I need time to catch up on what I missed.
At 7:15 a.m. I move from my bed and finally make it to the bathroom to get ready for work. I usually brush my teeth first. Gotta get the residue from those Swedish Fish I ate right before bed off my teeth and pray to every God I didn’t form a cavity. I apply deodorant to make sure I’m not adding to the New York City stench that already exists. I lather myself in only the finest of cocoa butter-based lotions because ain’t nobody got time to explain why I look like all of the hydrogen dioxide has been usurped from my body by a racist river nymph. But then, and only then, do i begin to tackle the true issue at hand. My hair.
I can’t just brush my hair and call it a morning, those days are long gone.
As a black male, growing the hair out of your head past brushing stage means I have to be open up an arsenal of products and tools to ensure that my hair is looking flyer than Michelle Obama at SoulCylce.
I begin by first taking an afro pick and actually picking out each of yesterday’s curl like formations in my hair. Afro picks can't simply be compared to most combs. They aren’t here for your comfort. They don’t care if you’re enjoying your experience. Are crying bruh? Are you mad that I’m yanking your soul from the top of your head? An afro pick is very much the first reminder of life not being fair that you’ll receive for the day.
Then I have to wet the pseudo afro on top of my head at this point by putting my head in the sink and praying I don’t pound my head on the faucet this time. Now, some might ask “Carrington, why don’t you just take a morning shower?” and to those people, I’d say: 1) Mind ya business, and 2) I work in New York City, night showers are very important here
After ensuring that the pseudo afro is damp, that the circumference of my head is properly lubricated with what I can only assume is water adequately filtered by the state of New Jersey, I then prepare to add the styling cream.
Now, this is no ordinary styling cream, oh no. I had to travel to the ends of the Earth (Target) for this styling cream. I had to fight suburban moms and angry kids who obviously need a nap to obtain this styling cream and hold it in my possession. It is infused with only the finest of oils, none of which i know how to pronounce. It is prepared and contained especially for me in by what I can only assume is a beautiful black woman in a lush Nubian paradise and shipped to my local trading outpost to be picked up at my convenience.
The bond between a black person and their choice of hair product is quite special.
I apply liquid gold commodity onto my head and listen as my hair lets out tiny shouts of complete and utter joy. “You did it," I silently say to myself as i put the final brushes into the masterpiece that is the top of my head. If I get nothing else right, if nothing else goes my way today, at least my hair game was on point.
So with all of that being said, dear reader, after all of the turmoil, the bloodshed, the greasy fingers and picked hairs, I ask you this question: Would you let someone that has touched an NYC subway pole, a Starbucks napkin dispenser and probably their junk, run their fingers through your luscious afro locks?
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Black women wearing their natural hair is officially a movement with it's own subculture and jargon. If you're anything like me, it can all feel very overwhelming. My transition from chemically-treated to natural tresses was fraught with uncertainty. With so much information floating around and so many products vying for my 4a dollar, I opted for the least complicated route, spending most of my transition in braids.
Now that I'm ready to unleash these kinky coils on the world, I've had to double back and get a whole education on products, routines and basic hair care needs. When I tell you I'm a beginner, I'm so serious. For instance, I had no clue I wasn't supposed to comb my hair. Who knew I was ruining my curl pattern? Melissa Denise has been my personal YouTube guru for these purposes. If you're a novice like me, her Relax Ya Tail #RYT YouTube series provides a nice, practical orientation to coach you through your new natural hair care routine.
In the video above, Melissa shares the 16 things she traded while transitioning from relaxed to natural hair. Let this video bless your curly roots.
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