The natural hair movement first began in the 60s and 70s as a form of rebellion and protest against the government. It is a symbol of pride in one’s roots, and during the Civil Rights Movement, it was used as a form of silent protest. However, in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s this natural hair pride began to disappear. What happened to the desire of expressing the freedom in one’s natural hair?
After the Civil Rights Movement, the natural hair expression declined due to the need to assimilate in the workplace. Many women often faced discrimination from employers telling them to “look professional”, giving women no option except to straighten their hair in order to “fit the mold”. This need to assimilate is what caused the decrease in the natural hair expression that we saw in the 70s.
Why is there a sudden rise in the natural hair movement right now? Self-acceptance is the cause of this. The desire to feel content with oneself has led many women to leave their natural hair. I leave my hair natural because I like it more in its natural state, but I also do this as a silent protest against the colorism that continues to take place in the Dominican Republic. This colorism is usually portrayed in very subliminal ways such as degrading natural hair as something inferior to straight hair. Using phrases such as “good hair” to describe straight hair and “bad hair” to describe curls is extremely discriminatory and offensive. What makes one type of hair better than another? Nothing, hair is just something superficial that might show traces of where your ancestors come from. Becoming aware of the small actions we take, like the way we speak about things, may seem minuscule. However, these small actions are what make all of the difference when educating others and voicing an opinion against discrimination.