UNDERSTANDING BLACKNESS FOR AFRICANS WHO DON'T KNOW THAT THEY ARE BLACK YET - When I knew that I was black
I did not know that I was black until I moved to America and trust me, it stung my mind because I learnt it from “racial profiling.” It was as if my skin color was new to me. I soon found a new hobby in myself as an African. 6 months after my entrance to America, I cut my denatured (aka permed or relaxed) hair out of the spite that it would not grow. For those who know about the common hair products for females, I had been perming (with chemicals), straightening (with hot and flat irons) and heat drying my hair (with hot and electrical hair driers) for over seven years. I was used to the idea that people with dark faces should be on the cartons of hair straightening and damaging products. During that period, I got so used to the stunted growth of my denatured hair and I assumed that after some while, it is okay if a person’s hair stops growing.
After the big chop, my kinky and natural hair grew faster than I expected. Within a year, I grew my natural kinky hair up to the same length of my 7 years damaged and denatured hair (a bit over 10cm). With the help of shea butter, olive oil, coconut oil, and the appropriate comb size, my kinky hair is soft and easy to comb through.
I found value, victory and glory in my blackness through the growth of my kinky hair. I learnt the rules of maintaining and loving it. Although I could no longer pack a pony tail and my hair stuck out of my braids or twist with extensions within weeks, I learnt the lesson that the same way you don’t destroy a diamond or crystal just to make a shape out of it is the same way you don’t destroy kinky hair just to make it conform. We need to learn and teach how to love and treat kinky hair in Africa rather than normalizing its destruction. We need to learn our blackness individually.
For Africans who don't know that they are black yet, I wish that you discover it before the world pushes it in your eyes forcefully.