Late last year I was charged with conducting an ethnography on a cultural group. I choose to take a closer look at the lives of women who call themselves natural. Natural women are typically of the African diaspora. Naturals are women who choose to wear their hair in its natural state (chemical free).
IamChrisjtaylor.com: Why did you become a natural?
Anifowoshe: This answer is twofold: First, because I am a health coach and through my research discovered all the dangers associated with relaxing hair with chemicals.
Second, because I became conscious of my decision to relax and did not like what I saw in the mirror. It was more of a Becoming as opposed to a going.
I like how you phrased the question “Why did you “become” natural because too many people have it confused with “Going” natural and a person cannot go to something that they were born with. They can only return to or “Become” what, they were meant to be.
IamChrisjtaylor.com: Are there enough resources for women who have natural hair? What is the need you see among natural women for an organization of this kind?
Anifowoshe: In relation to Black women, because we are often underserved in any area in regards to proper information, then my answer is an unequivocal “NO!” How can there be enough resources when we have an entire World (not even nation) of women of African descent, who for the first time in their lives are getting acquainted with their natural born hair.
It is not uncommon for a Black woman in her 30’s 40’s even 50’s to walk into a salon and ask “How do I take care of my natural hair because I do not understand it?” So, if we have to undo what 100’s of years of slavery has done to us then of course there are not enough resources.
Furthermore, we are not just another “share the how to get curly hair tips” kind of organization. We are here to really live up to what our pledge has stated. We are here to respect and be respected. We will not tolerate bigotry, self-hate or any of that foolishness. We will share the God given abilities to all that want to receive them. We are here to share what the world needs and that is love of self and empowerment.
Let me further clarify. We did a Natural hair event last year and had a panel discussion. It was entitled “Why is our natural hair so foreign to us, getting to the root of the problem.” We discovered that there were many deep-rooted issues that surfaced and all because we started with the conversation of our hair. The conversation got so deep that we had to insist to the crowd that the Discussion was over. The people did not want to leave the auditorium as they were enamored by the discussion. Perhaps because it resonated with them to the core of their being; that’s natural.
Let’s not undermine the value and the power of Black folks’ hair. Our hair is unlike any hair in the entire world. There is no other hair that can grow in the shape of the earth. Look at our logo closely on Facebook. Inside the Afro you will see the Globe. It occurred to me in designing the logo that it was further confirmation that our hair is unique in that it takes on the shape of the earth if left in it’s natural state.
IamChrisjtaylor.com: Chris Rock’s documentary Good Hair asked natural women if they felt discriminated against or at greater odds for discrimination when looking for work. Will PiNK address issues of this sort?
Anifowoshe: Chris Rock did an excellent job in exposing the caveats of the black hair market as well as the deep-rooted issues black women have when it comes to our hair and the desire to wear other races hair to appear beautiful. However, he missed the mark by not offering solutions to the problem. You see we all know that there is some problem in all of this but what have been unresolved are the solutions. That is what PiNK will serve to address. We will teach women how to take care of their natural locs when in Corporate America.
There is nothing different about Institutions having dress code rules. They can suggest that a white male with a beard is not in their code of dress, or a Caucasian woman with a baldhead. Every area has standards. However, we will make it clear to Corporate America and the world that Natural is who we are and to conform may be a neat style but it does not mean a straight style. I further believe that as we accept ourselves the Corporate America part will be easy.
Many naturals will tell you that they have far greater problems from within the race than from the outside. Caucasians are often fascinated by natural hair. It is the Blacks who have yet to understand the beauty of their hair. So in short, absolutely PiNK will address dealing with biases not only in corporate America but in everyday life as well. The PiNK’s will be able to face the world with great pride and dignity. That is my goal.