I’m in hair heaven. I got my hair done last night by my new hairdresser. But seriously, “hairdresser,” doesn’t even begin to describe my new holistic, natural hair care expert. She looked at every single one of my locs, scrubbed my scalp with a homemade sugar-coconut-lemon-grapeseed scrub, and treated my hair and scalp with a delicious smelling balm of essential oils. Basically, she hooked me up. I’m floating in a cloud of geranium and lemon oil. Lovely.
And yes, I know: the story of my hair pales in comparison to issues of real import, such as voter suppression, reproductive justice, and shameful shenanigans in public education – all issues on which I am trying to collect my thoughts. Still, I won’t underestimate the significance of hair. As much as I blast India Arie’s “I Am Not My Hair,” we would not all have responded so strongly to that song if there wasn’t something there. Poems, Essays, Dissertations – tomes weighty and light – have been dedicated to Black women and our hair. The first American woman to be a self-made millionaire was entrepreneur Madame C.J. Walker, who built a black hair care empire.
I am not my hair. My hair is not my crowning glory. Yet there is something to be said for a beautiful head of hair. I am more confident when I think my hair looks good. I know that my stress, my diet, my general well-being, are all reflected in my locs. Biblical lore tells us that Samson took his strength from his hair. Maybe it’s just the care and attention that comes from the careful ministrations of having your hair done.
Whatever it is – today, my locs are glossy (kind of) and smooth. My scalp is calm. And I am prepared to take on the world. Thank you, Ahava.
And no celebration of Black women would be complete without a little bit of…
Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why)
by Nikki Giovanni
I was born in the congo
I walked to the fertile crescent and built
. the sphinx
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
. that only glows every one hundred years falls
. into the center giving divine perfect light
I am bad
I sat on the throne
. drinking nectar with allah
I got hot and sent an ice age to europe
. to cool my thirst
My oldest daughter is nefertiti
. the tears from my birth pains
. created the nile
I am a beautiful woman
I gazed on the forest and burned
. out the sahara desert
. with a packet of goat’s meat
. and a change of clothes
I crossed it in two hours
I am a gazelle so swift
. so swift you can’t catch me
. For a birthday present when he was three
I gave my son hannibal an elephant
. He gave me rome for mother’s day
My strength flows ever on
My son noah built new/ark and
I stood proudly at the helm
. as we sailed on a soft summer day
I turned myself into myself and was
. men intone my loving name
. All praises All praises
I am the one who would save
I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
. the filings from my fingernails are
. semi-precious jewels
. On a trip north
I caught a cold and blew
My nose giving oil to the arab world
I am so hip even my errors are correct
I sailed west to reach east and had to round off
. the earth as I went
. The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid
. across three continents
I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended
. except by my permission
I mean…I…can fly
. like a bird in the sky…
I am not nearly this bold, but maybe I’ll take some inspiration.
Homage To My Hips
By Lucille Clifton
these hips are big hips
they need space to
move around in.
they don’t fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don’t like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top!