Updated: Jun 2
Black Hair Stories are stories of Black women and how their hair journey has shaped them. For Black Girls Who Have A Lot to Say is invested in sharing our stories, for us...by us. We will roll out more pics and quotes on our Instagram, so make sure to follow and share.
As a Black girl, our relationship with hair begins early on in our lives. Hair plays a huge role in who we are, what we've been through, and how far we have left to go. From India Arie's"I Am Not My Hair" to Solange's, "Don't Touch My Hair," to policy on hair discrimination, and the myth of "acceptable" hairstyles and hair types. Black hair is always the topic of conversation. In all its coils and twists, it tells our stories. Black hair is free like that. It goes its own way, it stretches and curls, and bends and sometimes it breaks.
Black hair comes in many styles, shapes, and forms, as do locs. Locs have different patterns and shapes, they can be braided, twisted, rodded, and molded. Locs have always signified strength and beauty. We're happy to share Imani's Loc Lovestory.
I love washing my locs. Scrubbing my hair piece by piece with shampoo, watching the dirt mix with the water, and swirl down the drain is extremely satisfying. The catharsis of cleaning is unmatched in my mind. The dirt proves that I have been living, existing day to day, and trying my best. Its removal shows that I'm ready to manipulate my new growth and prepare for what's to come. My locs are a physical manifestation of my self-love journey. I have always had long, thick hair. When it wasn't up in the air trying to touch the sun it was down my back past my buttocks. It was healthy, it was mine and it was always a topic of conversation.
I was taught that your hair is your crown. For me, it wasn't a tool of expression, but some sort of example of self-love.
I took this idea a bit too literally, and as my hair fell on the ground so did my confidence. My ritual of my perm being touched up every 6-8 weeks had been changed to getting my hair twisted with every 1-2 weeks. It was a shock to my system. I wasn't used to understanding my texture, and the drastic change in my hair care. Even though my mother read me books as a child-like “Happy to be Nappy” by bell hooks and “Nappy Hair” by Carolivia Herron...I still felt ugly. I grew up being praised for my visible length, and more often than not the “straightness” of my hair. Natural hair wasn't seen as a positive thing until my later years of high school. My mother's hair texture is nothing like mine, and as a child, this was devastating because I wanted to be like my hero. She cried harder than me when my hair fell to the floor, “All of my hard work.” she said through her tears.
So I had to change my hair goals. I wanted to have a big afro like Chaka Khan or Lady of Rage. I wanted my hair to be so big people moved out the way when I walked down the street. I thought the social views on my hair were the most interesting part of it. I had an old woman one time tell me that I looked like a “pickaninny” as she asked for me to straighten my hair. Even with my locks in the early stage, I had another old woman ask me if I wanted her to pay for my hair to get a perm. I didn't understand why these ladies have a negative perception of my hair. However, I started to internalize these ideas.
I toyed with the idea of perming my hair again until I saw a thread on twitter with gorgeous black women with their hair in locks. I started to think that it would be interesting to do it to my own hair. I went to YouTube and got lost for three hours going from video to video. I made up my mind to just go for it. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. The spiritual journey has been just as fulfilling and exponential as the hair growth. The opinions of others haven't stopped, but the assurance and satisfaction I get from making this personal growth have turned the comments into background noise. I love the fact that my new growth coils around what exists prior to it until it becomes permanent. It has shown me the value at all points of my journey. That experiences past and future make up the whole sum of my existence and are just as important as the new growth. My locks have taught me how to love myself through all parts of the process, and to never be afraid of what's to come. I am enough as is, I am everchanging, and all of this is beautiful.
Imani ”J. Lyte” Williams is a writer and poet from Orlando, Fl. A recent graduate of The University of Alabama, she became involved in slam poetry through the student organization Alabama Student Association of Poetry “ASAP”. She also was a member of “Team Blackout” that won second place in the historic Rustbelt Poetry Slam (2019). J. Lyte’s life goal is to use poetry to encourage others to tell their story, whatever it may be.
With lots of #HairLove,