To my surprise, I received daily inquiries about my hair. The first question was always, "How do you get your hair like that?" And my response was a long run down of my co-wash conditioner and regimen, followed by my leave-in moisturizer, castor oil, and the best darn gel in the world - Eco Styler. Much to my chagrin, instead of nods and note-taking, what ensued was almost always an "ugly" twisted face followed by, "Oh, so you just have curly hair?" Reluctant to respond, I would eventually acquiesce and say, "Yes." To this, I would receive a spectrum of responses - anywhere from shoulder shrugs and ambivalence to downright hostile eye-rolling.
My experiences over the last decade and half with natural hair are reaffirming rather than contradicting my theories about race and identity. As much as India Arie and others proclaim proudly that "they are not their hair," there is so much evidence to the contrary. Women's hair (regardless of race) has been a symbol of beauty, femininity, piety, reverence, patriarchy, sexuality, and the list goes on. In our contemporary world, we cannot trivialize black women's hair and what it symbolizes.