28 October 2006

I AM NOT MY HAIR.....

Why I Am Not My Hair
Inspiration: “I am not my hair” India Aire

One day this week, I thought very hard about my reason for purchasing India Aires, latest CD. There was something about one of the songs that she has on there that really appealed to me because I could relate.

Being a man in my late twenties, when I celebrated this last birthday the nostalgia that I had this year was different from that of many other years. It was this year that I decided to focus on how I have worn my hair in the last fifteen or so years and how it had a dramatic impact on whom I was.

While in high school, the big thing for men in the gospel choir who wanted to be apart of the popular crowd found new and exciting things to do with there hair. Of course as an incoming sophomore I did not understand the concept of adding hair (weaving) to ones head to achieve a desired style, being an acceptable thing for men to do. However, I did go to an art school and for anyone that knows an artist we can be quite eccentric. So, I never actually added hair to my, already REVLON lye processed hair, I decided to style my hair in different ways.

Through the different styles I became very talented in doing my own hair and others for that matter. You could always find me, during the week with a regular high-top fade, the style of the early nineties. During the weekends you would see a wet, wave nuveau style, set with push waves, finger waves or and pin curls. All of which at a time I learned to do myself.

There was a point when that realm of my high school experiance branded me too much with being apart of the flamboyantly gay crowd in the school, which I sought to render myself away from. So, senior year nineteen ninety-five, I cut my relaxed hair down to a curly fade. Just recently as I looked at those pictures, I noticed that my whole style during that change was very poignant. I wore preppy clothing, and hung with all of the popular brothers in the school. I looked real good at that time and discovered I didn’t need a perm to identify my flair any longer.

Attending school in Baltimore for undergrad became a funny experience. As I searched to find my niche among the freshman class of that time, I also saw that I blended in as a student with all of the other students on the yard. So for a brief moment, I went back to a cropped fade and then I returned back to the curly fade. About my sophomore or junior year, I learned a trend in Baltimore that I had not adhered to in New York, brothers get shape ups at least once a week. It was at that time that I solidified a specific barber in town that would crop my mane every week for a price of about seven to ten bucks.

In about early 1999, it became an extreme fad to walk around with the longest locs and profess that you were so conscious and spiritually aware of your heritage. I didn’t do it for that reason, but I had been fascinated with the wearing of locs which in my family had only been worn by my elder aunts. I knew that I had to go through many transition to achieve this style, so I started getting my hair done in gel twists, something that I begged my mother to do when I seen them in Ebony Male magazine when I was in High School. Lo, and behold, I was walking around town sporting the newest style of gel twists, corn row twists and baby locs. As my hair got longer I even went so far as to have regular corn rows, that I had to accompany with the avid shape up otherwise there was no reason to think of wearing my hair that way. All this time I am becoming confident in myself because of the maintenance that I am keeping up with my hair. I will never forget the day, January 4, 2002 when I sat down in my stylists chair, at what was then Twist and Shout, an establishment known for coiffing the manes of the best pastors, and church officials in Baltimore, as well as many noted artists around the country, and you could always hear good music and an occasional dance would break out. That was the day I started my locking experience.

I first started my locking journey through method of the twist. It was a common way to start locs at that time and that what was done to me, I sat in the chair and was told “it’s about time we go on the permanent journey.” In the first year of locked hair, I had become very stylish, as to always be presentable with the transition I was in and knowing that my superior choir master would have had a cow if I didn’t keep my hair up. It became a ritual, to go to the salon and get it touched up and styled over the weeks.

In 2003, while going through an amazing undertaking of the body, my locs started to take an ill form, and I didn’t like the things I had done to them, including but not limited to style, color, and length. So, I decided on November 4, 2003 to cut my hair, darn it seemed like I had my hair for two full years when in actuality it had only been a thought but not a reality.

I cannot deeply associate the cutting of my hair to any African American ritualistic value, but I do know that if I had not cut my hair in November of 03’ that I would not have reacquired the strength that I had prior to my illness.

I often tell the story that when I cut my hair in 2003, all the virtues of my life struggles were set free, and I was free to live a new chapter, which means that I had to engage in further rehabilitation in areas of my life such as talent, confidence and the ability to be around people. One of the main reasons that I cut my hair in 2003 is that I wasn’t able to maintain the style because it was getting to expensive to care for and it wasn’t looking good with me doing it cause I didn’t have a good eye for it at that time.

The journey from November 2003 till now is absolutely miraculous. I finally became reacquainted with all of the things that made me what I was, and noticed that all my hair did for me was allow my confidence to spread. I embraced my curls, shortly after letting the locs go. I revisited the gel twist, and wore some mean micro mini cornrows that were the envy of most of my friends. I even embarked upon another new form that I didn’t wear previously, which was added afro human hair for kinky twists, which gave an illusion that I had a healthy head of thick and full hair. When it finally grew long enough and I had a job to maintain it, I started my hair in double strand twists. While maintaining other people’s hair, when I had locs, I understood that the double strand twist was a good way to start the lock for an all around even hair distribution. Am I glad that I paid attention to detail, after getting double strands for about 2 months, I decided that I was ready to embark on my new journey with my mane, and since that day, my locs are an expression of the journey I went through rediscovering myself and my self expression.

With the song “I am not my hair” I recall a particular passage where India Aire can pin point the exact amount of locs that she shed when she cut here hair in 2002. “97 dred locks were gone”, she acknowledges that she knows how many connections she let go of in that moment. I was not as meticulous and cannot tell you that I know how many locs were cut. But, I can say that without the shedding of those locs in 2003, I would be carrying on to baggage of my demise in 2003. The cutting was a holistic and spiritual awakening for me. I now appreciate the care and ritualistic maintenance that I go through to keep this feeling alive.

When I took the job with Three Mo, they asked me if I would do something with my hair if needed, I simply replied, my confidence is in my look, and my locs are apart of it. I am not Samson, but I can relate. I also recently listened to a sermon that detailed, the strength wasn’t in the Locs of Samson’s hair, but in the faith that God had blessed him through his locs.

I do not know, when I will have another loc shed, I am not anticipating it. But, I do know that it is something that I will have to do to solidify that my strength is in GOD and that “I Am Not My Hair.”

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

NSU - 4efer, 5210 - rulez

7:20 PM  

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