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Black hair column unbeweaveable

Updated: July 28, 2011 2:14AM



My wife told me so. And yet, I had to go and open my big mouth anyway on the very sensitive subject of sisters and the hair weave epidemic currently gripping our nation. Man, oh man. It’s been, uh, unbeweaveable.

For my musings — even though they were meant for good, for the promotion of natural black beauty — one sister wrote to me saying she wanted to come downtown and punch me in the face. Another wrote disparaging me as a “bald black man” and saying that as such, I had some nerve for daring to broach the subject. Who did I think I was?

“My head is my head and I wear on my head what makes me feel happy and pretty,” wrote another sister, who said she had long healthy natural hair but often indulges in wearing weaves, changing from blonde to redhead to brunette. “I believe I can speak for most black women: ‘Don’t mess with [our] hair!’ Beweave that.”

Alas, I do beweave it.

And though I may have made one small step for man in my attempt to make one giant one for weave-kind by my examination of this hairy cultural phenomenon, I must now recede, like my hairline, from any further discussion of this most sensitive matter that can hold dangerous consequences. But I have discovered I am not alone.

“As an African-American man, I found this article to be both entertaining and dangerous. Explanation: I’ve had countless discussions with my wife, sister, cousins, and sistas over the . . . (enter whisper here) . . . weave,” writes a brother whose identity I am protecting for obvious reasons.

“Trying to convince them to just try and go without it . . . Abandon all hope ye who enters this door. Any African-American male who’s had the weave conversation quickly feels the fury. It’s easier to answer the question, ‘Does my butt look big in these jeans?’ with a ‘yes’ than to open the can of worms marked ‘weave.’

“My hat’s off to you for writing this inbox filler,” he continues. “It’s a dangerous road you’ve chosen to travel, my friend. I have seen the face of evil created by this topic and I must leave you to walk this road alone. I’m sure there is a Sista-Girls-With-Weave-Assassination-Squad heading to your office, driving a convertible with the top down to give you a piece of their mind.”

Man, I hope not. My shiny baldhead is a little hard to miss. Maybe I should go to the weave store and get a glue-on piece or a wig of dreadlocks. (Yeah, mon!)

Indeed, I recently visited a beauty supply store and was mesmerized by the wall-to-wall, nearly floor-to-ceiling assortment of hair weave pieces, clip-ons and full wigs, hawking names like “Indian Remy,” “Milky Way,” “Velvet,” “Goddess” and “Silky.” Also there were sisters, studying the hair, smiling, delighting — like kids in a candy store — as they fashioned integrating it into their own — stroking it, flipping it, lavishing in it.

As I perused the store — its Korean owners, standing at the perimeter behind the counters, a sea of cheap and also expensive, dead foreign hair and the presence of already beautiful black women seeking to camouflage theirs — it made me feel deeply sad. Sad about the continued manifestation of self-hatred bred by racism, Jim Crowism and slavery and our vain attempt to conform to a Euro-centric standard of beauty.

And this much I will say and stand by, even while standing someday in front of the Sister-Girls-With-Weave-Assassination-Squad: That black women need not be slave to the weave or the perm, nor otherwise partake in the burning or alteration of their hair; need not put weave on layaway; need not so sacrifice for a mere semblance or illusion of beauty that far pales in comparison to their own. You’re beautiful, sister, all by your lovely black self.

And just for the record, there are a few sisters out there who’ve got a brother’s back. Beweave that.



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