For centuries black people have been told that they’re not perfect, that they need to look a certain way in order to fit into the societal standards. Their own black hair has also been challenged. The structure of influence such as religion has been used to make black people feel inferior.
Early this year I came across an appalling post on Facebook titled professional hair vs unprofessional hair. The individual had posted that ‘we’ should Google the two. I expected wicked humorous results, after all, Google does have a funny bone. I thought that I would see some bizarre hairstyles, something unconventional that has made it to the professional spectrum.
Well, it wasn’t like that. I read through the comments first, every Facebook post is better through the comment than discovering something on your own. Truth be told we save a lot of data by reading through comments than having to click on the link or do as told. We all know someone in the comments section will post a screenshot of the topic (status message) at hand.
Everyone was livid by this
This triggered my interest why are my fellow black sister so angry. Curiously I went to Google searched for professional hair vs unprofessional hair. It’s said that we should laugh through every tragedy, and this indeed was a tragedy. Firstly; what makes my black hair unprofessional? Who said professional should be Eurocentric? How is my Afro consider not workplace appropriate? Why should I be subjected to societal expectations?
After all, this is my natural self, society constantly preach about being yourself. When it comes to my black hair I’m made to feel inferior and insecure. My black hair dates back to my ancestors who have fought against oppression and always having to define themselves. Why should my hair be called out as something wrong? Why suddenly 22 years of democracy black sisters still have to answer for their hair?
So being natural is unacceptable
Ironically the pictures on Google showed really stunning, neat, and rich black women hairstyles compared to what was considered professional. This seems like a race thing again. 2016 had been a year where racism is rife, through social media we have been exposed to this subject countless times and still no drastic action has been taken on the individuals accountable for these racist remarks.
It’s quite puzzling that in 2016 there are still schools that do not want to recognise black hair. How is the hair that grows on my head not appropriate? I’m forced to expose my black hair to chemicals that supposedly will straighten it and make me societal acceptable. Why should I support a Eurocentric market that removes me from myself, a market that tells me I’m not supposed to look the way I do. Why should I please the one who do not want me for me?
We have been told that our black hair is not neat, that it does not go well with formal.
Black sisters have been rocking their natural hair for ages and every time they are questioned about their choices. The “hair struggle” is real, it does not only stop at school but it is the beginning of a long journey which continues to the work environment. When you search online workplace or interview appropriate hairstyles you will see less African hairstyles.
I’ve got an afro and I love it “untamed”
I applaud every black girl from Pretoria High School for Girls for standing up for themselves. Refusing to fall into the Eurocentric standards of how one should look. It’s time Africans stop being ashamed of their hair because someone tells them that it is not neat. It is unacceptable, it doesn’t look professional.
(Authored by Thembekile Sibiya, student at Wits University, South Africa)