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Hair Raising Experience – #TeachMeTuesdays

couple standing on gray floor

Melanated Gem, do you know that your hair is the only hair that grows upwards towards the sun. With gravity, most things grow down towards the ground, but our hair, having the most protein, needs the sun. Did you know that our hair mimics the trees, a cauliflower, and even broccoli? What I’m getting at is, we mimic nature, in our natural form. We respond to nature, as does our hair. I always see our hair as a representation of us, strong, sometimes needing a little extra effort to comb through, but always exceeding expectations. We are not easily breakable. Let me break it down; when I wash my hair, it is in it’s most natural form, tightly curled and ready to be loved. By the time I comb it, moisturize it, and stretch it out via twists or braids, it’s so much longer than anyone thinks. As Africana people, we are resilient, we are always able to be stretched beyond measure when we are loved, and when stretched, we produce much more than anyone thinks. As we comb through ourselves, there are so many layers, we find out so many different things. We have a plethora of different styles that our hair, and our being can transform to; our hair is strong enough to withstand a plethora of styles, and as a people, we have withstood a plethora of experiences and atmospheres. For example, we have created cultures as an extension of African cultures in the Caribbean, United States, Britain, Pakistan (Siddi), and anywhere else the wicked have placed us as a result of slavery. We have so much inside of us, even as one person, and that’s just as people whose presence is attacked daily. Imagine if we weren’t attacked daily, we’d literally be in every corner of the world as leaders. We already are leaders, having not been given the credit for our inventions and cultural influence daily, but with true freedom, we’d be unmatched. I encourage you all to see your hair a little differently today, what story does your hair tell you about you? Feel free to comment!

~Ndidi Love~

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Culture Tuesdays: Meaning of African Hair Braiding

CULTURE TUESDAYS

The bible says it best, there is nothing new under the sun. For women of African descent, hair braiding is nothing new. From the beginning of time, we’ve been wearing braids in our hair in so many styles that can’t even be counted in number. What has changed though is the meaning, hair styles have always been a significant part of Many African cultures. The same way a ring symbolizes marriage in American culture, hair styles signified marriage in some African cultures. Some styles we rock now have been around for centuries, although at times, we think we’re doing something new. I think although people may say “it’s just hair”, I think it’s important to understand the history of our hair to at least appreciate what it has always meant to us. The fact that we have so many thousands of styles is not something to take lightly, think of it as a God given gift that we share with the world through our cultural experiences. Although many traditions are similar throughout Africa and the Diaspora, I think it’s safe to say that hair braiding is one that unifies most Black people on this earth.

Africa is a big continent with 54 countries and over 1000 languages. These cultures in these ethnic groups vary, and the hairstyles uniquely identify each tribe. Braid patterns can indicate a person’s community, age, marital status, wealth, power, social position, and religion.

Historically, specific braid patterns have been done for special occasions like weddings, social ceremonies or war preparations. People belonging to certain ethnic groups can easily be identified by their fellow ethnic group member by their hairstyle or braid pattern. As one article puts it, “Immense importance is given to the custom of braiding. The person who braids hair performs it as both a ritual and a social service. It is an art form taught by the senior female member of the family to her daughters and close friends. The person who braids well is considered an expert. The man or woman who braids does it as a social duty. No rewards are expected”, and, “A well groomed person is considered healthy and well mannered, and the social customs encourage braids. Well done braids help in attracting a partner during ceremonies”, interesting.

My experience is Namibia, a country in Southwest Africa, showed me the importance of tradition. The Himba people are some of the only people that still practice their culture as it was before colonialism. The hair patterns of the women signified who they were and their importance in society. I found an article describing the hair patterns of other ethnic groups, check them out:

• The Mangbetu women plait their hair and arrange it around a cone-shaped basket frame. They decorate it with bone needles.

• The Miango women cover their braids with scarves and decorate with leaves.
• The Massai belong to South Kenya and Tanzania. They like red and use this color to dye their hair. The men usually braid their hair and stiffen it with animal dung. The boys who are entering the stage of youth spend hours or days to have their hair braided. Each design is innovative.
• Cornrow braids are the most popular. The braids indicate cultural traditions. The patterns are handed down through the generations.
• Himba women make an ointment from red ochre, butter, ash and herbs. The ointment is applied on braids. They are considered the most striking among all tribal women. (Brighthubeducation.com)

I say all this to say, even though we may wear hairstyles now that may not have any significant meaning other than looking beautiful and doing what our hair was created to do, recognize the strength and meaning behind why it has been done before. Let’s take pride in our hair and hairstyles, and realize that it is a representation of who we are!

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Blog Feature: Afrobella

BLOG FEATURE

“Trinidadian-born writer Patrice Grell Yursik created Afrobella.com to fill a void and to celebrate the inner and outer beauty of women all shades of beautiful. Her award-winning blog shines a loving light on natural hair and the wonderfully wide range of gorgeous skin tones and sizes women come in.”

I am featuring her blog today but I’m also featuring a particular post she wrote highlighting 350 Black owned businesses! Wow! There’s so much talent in the Diaspora, I’m
so glad she created this post. I also love how she uses her beauty blog to give a voice to issues in the Black community. I recommend browsing through her posts as they are very inspiring and insightful! Enjoy loves! ❤️

http://www.afrobella.com/2015/11/28/350-independent-black-owned-businesses-to-support/

350+ Independent Black Owned Businesses to Support This Holiday Season and BEYOND | Afrobella