First things first: Happy Black History Month naturalistas! We’ve come a long way with our hair historically so why not give a quick shoutout to our black ancestors? Yaaassss to hair gawds!
We are blessed with curls that glisten the moment natural oils are dropped onto our scalps. We grow natural crowns that automatically make us ethereal queens. We are scalp queens and our hair is living proof of Black resilience. February ain’t over yet, so why not celebrate our HAIRstory? Whether you’re in the airport bathroom stall slicking your natural mane into a ponytail before boarding or riding the bus to a local tourist spot, this article is for you. Going Natural is taking us waaaaayyyy back to the beginning roots of black hair and black staples who shaped our global natural hair community today.
The Origin of Black Hair
The contemporary black hairstyles that we all know today isn’t new. Cornrows, Bantu knots, dreadlocks, freeform dreads, box braids, wigs, you name it! If anything, it’s an updated version of what our ancestors used to rock back in the day. These holistic hairstyles can be dated back to the ancient Egypt civilizations. A myriad of black hairstyles was discovered in ancient hieroglyphs, paintings, and drawings. Nefertiti was and still is an icon. Sis been buried for centuries and she still got clout!
And the Who wore it best? The award goes to: The Zulu Tribes from Southern Africa! The Zulu people from South Africa, who spoke a Bantu dialect, created this lovely protective hairstyle. Yes girl, the look we oh so love to whip up to achieve heatless curls hails from Mama Africa herself. More specifically, Bantu knots are also known as Zulu Knots or Nubian Knots.
Braids (cornows, intricate breads, box braids, etc)
I can remember my mother’s fingers splitting my hair into straight sections and braiding ferociously on my scalp while I cried in vain. I hated doing cornrows when I was younger. Little did I know at 7 years old, cornrows held deep ancestral meaning. I’m pretty sure you naturalistas can relate; avoiding your mother’s calls before finally sitting in between your mother’s legs to braid your hair. God forbid you start screaming or fidgeting around – mama gon’ jerk yo’ head!
Dreadlocks have a loooong history – it’s said that this famous hairstyle originated from Ancient Egypt and can be found on ancient artifacts. Yet, when we think about the origins of dreadlocks, most of us think back to the early days of the Rastafari movement in the 1930s and Bob Marley, but let’s take it back even further. The Rastafari Movement become well-known when Ras Tafari became Emperor of Ethiopia. His facial hair became a symbol for the early days of Rastafarianism. When the emperor was forced into exile during an invasion and Ethiopian warriors vowed to avoid cutting their hair until the emperor returned to his rightful throne. Res Tafari was the G.O.A.T.
The afro is THE iconic hairstyle in black communities today. Of course, our hairstyles have a history background attached, but in this particular case, the Afro is more recent. The Afro hairstyle rose during the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s/70s. This dominant hairstyle highly carried resistance and black power and influenced black folk to boycott damaging products that encouraged Eurocentric beauty standards. Icons such as Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill wore as if their life depended on it. What an incredible way to showcase Blackness – power to the people!
Black HAIRstory is black resistance and stands as a form of activism. But in today’s world, appropriating black hairstyles has become a “trend” and numerous non-POC often disregard the historical and cultural roots of Blackness. Although our hairstyles stem from an affluent historical background, we must never forget where we come from and what our ancestors have undergone.
Most importantly, our Black HAIRstory is just beginning.
What’s your favorite Black hairstyle?