Have you ever heard relaxed ladies saying to each other, ‘You did a braidout so you are not being true to your straight hair?’ Waiting for response ………… No? Yet why is it so common to find naturals question each other for everything from straight hair to styling choices such as weaves and even for just having an opinion. I am talking about the dirty politics within the natural hair community. I guess it troubles me a lot that sometimes politics seems more important than the broader message of natural hair acceptance. This is especially an issue in hair forums and blogs where there is a large audience who need to be supported and given the right message. I then decided to do some research and found a really good article by David. G. Jensen relevant to career politics but it really applies for the skulduggery of natural hair politics. Politics exists at different levels but what we all need to be able to spot is a ‘politically charged environment.’ What exactly do I mean by that? Well, here are some tell tale signs 1. Is communication controlled or manipulated? For example, do you find that you are only allowed to express an opinion that is in agreement with the general thinking of a particular natural hair site/forum/blog?
2. Are there underlying conflicts that suddenly surface? Politics is a strategic game, it helps to keep conflict in the shadows so that when it surfaces, it seems like the issue came out of nowhere and now there is a bad guy and a good guy (nothing in between). Have you seen spats on a forum or site?
3. Are you part of the decision making process or are decisions made by a certain clique? In the simplest form, have you been offended by something that was said on a natural hair site and your objection was simply ignored or have you ever suggested a change and it was treated with indifference or shouted down?
4. Is information passed through gossip?
Any one of these may indicate that you are in the midst of a political minefield. So how do you deal with this when all you want is natural hair info, styling tips, regimen tips etc? Well the way forward is to be politically astute but not a politician. 1. First stay away from topics that you feel uncomfortable with. Natural hair politics has a way of dragging everyone into it. Just don’t get involved if you don’t feel strongly about the issue.
2. Remember the ‘Golden Rule’ – Do unto others as you expect done unto you. For natural hair divas this means you need to exude positivity and acceptance. These are two things that have helped us to rise above derogatory comments or keep going even when we felt we were not successful. I think the existence of every natural hair site whether forum or blog means that there is an audience willing to listen to that message. Just remember to watch first, speak later and don’t be afraid to leave and seek support elsewhere if you find yourself in a political sea that you don’t want to swim in. Tomorrow is Monday Myths……..so stay tuned to find out if deep conditioning is really a myth…… (cue mysterious music and curtains close:) )