4C or 3B. Co-washing or the LOC method. These terms may sound like technobabble but have made their way into black women’s zeitgeist around the world following what has been coined as the ‘Natural Hair Revolution.’ Political for some, personal for others – and both for many more – around the world, more and more women of African descent are beginning to find ways to appreciate, celebrate and educate themselves further on their natural hair textures, or, at the very least, are becoming more and more aware of their styling choices and the motivations – conscious or subconscious – behind them.
Hair Freedom, a 10-minute documentary by English filmmaker Zindzi Rocque Drayton joins a growing family of films that explore the dynamics of this movement.
It was interesting to see the black British perspective as North Americans have been dominating this discussion so far. The movement seems to be gaining more traction in our diasporic communities than on our continent ironically; I hope in the future we get more in depth analysis of the various socio-economic and geo-political factors that account for this disparity.
Solidly nuanced, the documentary takes the form of candid Q&A sessions amongst various individuals, to address issues ranging from terminology to identity politics. It showcases different black women of all shades with various hair textures, styles and lengths, an effective choice in my opinion considering the diversity we have in our community.
A recurring thread in the documentary was the evolution of this revolution. As it is somewhat a resurgence of the Black Power movement in the 70s, it is interesting to see the discussion moving past the reactionary stage into normalization. This does not mean that the celebration of our blackness is ill placed – our cultures have been denigrated then co-opted hence the necessity for us to reaffirm ourselves not out of superiority but to regain the humanity and dignity that has been denied to us for so long. I for one cannot wait till our hair is just hair, unqualified and not an extension of some mystical negro womaness.
Originally published on Dynamic Africa