Solange’s Ode to Black Hair Came At the Perfect Time

At a time where Black women are being asked to shave their heads for job opportunities and Marc Jacobs claims that Beyoncé’s choice to straighten her hair is a symbol of cultural appropriation, Solange emerges with Don’t Touch My Hair — the perfect ballad to uplift and explain all things Black hair.

I can hear Solange’s beads in the opening scene, echoing generations of little girls rising in the middle of class to sharpen a not-so-dull pencil in an effort to show off their freshly braided hair — allowing their beaded crowns to sing the praises of their arrival.

Solange compares her hair to everything substantial: a crown, her soul, her pride.  It holds her most prized possessions: her vision, the rhythm of her soul, her glory, and her emotions. Of course you don’t want the things you value most and the things you’ve worked hard to obtain to be accessible to just anyone. Imagine how frustrating and uncomfortable it must feel to finally achieve the perfect twist-out after watching countless YouTube tutorials just for someone to reach their hands in your head out of selfish curiosity. Picture being qualified for an opportunity and having your offer rescinded after refusing to altar a significant portion of your appearance that may be affiliated with your religion, culture, and overall personality. Now envision how it must feel to see the same things you are scrutinized for celebrated in pop culture and used for profit in many creative realms.

Solange and her husband, Alan Ferguson, combined forces to present a visual interpretation of a hair that is just as powerful and resilient as its people. This is the perfect example of Black girl magic: you can accessorize it with beads or clips, use it to balance large loads for transport, and you can even braid it into styles that defy gravity.

My favorite scenes in the video showcase women involved in various physical activities. A woman with a beautifully formed dive helps to demystify the idea that water is a Black woman’s kryptonite. In fact, most natural hair bloggers claim this to be an urban legend, citing water as a means to achieve the perfect curl.

Between Beyoncé reverting back to her Destiny’s Child cornrows, Rihanna posting a picture with waist-long dreadlocks, and London Zhiloh leading the baby hair movement this could lead to more dialogue surrounding natural hair care.   One can only hope that tolerance and understanding are destined to follow from the media to the workforce.

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