Politically, the AFRO was a declaration of Black self-love, intellectual historical knowledge, and Black Power. This change created a significant shift in socio-cultural and sociopolitical viewpoints. Hairstyling became a political statement of connection to the Black community. But not everyone participated in this “free thought” movement. Many, more traditional and conservative Black people felt that straightened hair was more presentable and that those who allowed their hair to grow wildly and messily were unkempt and failed to hold themselves to the higher moral standards that were necessary to advance in society.
We’ve all felt it at some point or another growing up, mama or Big Mama telling you, “You not going on my house looking like who done it or why!” It was the natural extension of the “You have to work twice as hard to be seen half as good!” If children, the natural extension of their parents/household, are allowed to be seen outside the house looking unkempt, like a ‘ragamuffin’, what does that say about their parents? Wild, wooly hair would surely garner inevitable comparisons to Buckwheat, (the dark skinned Black boy on Little Rascals) and that was unacceptable – for little Black girls or boys. And this wasn’t just a matter of pure vanity. It was also self-preservation.
Parents worried about how their children could move safely through the world if the ruling white class, as lowly as they thought of its Black citizens, could, with half a glance, so easily find disrepute in unkempt Blackness. They thought a fine haircut and neat clothing could provide at least some modicum of protection while out from under their protective gaze. But the truth was/is, straight hair or kinky, tucked shirt or sagging, our Blackness is all the reason they needed to inflict violence.
So with that being the case, we may as well embrace all that God naturally created us to be.
Free the ‘fro!