Growing up in the mid seventies, I remember hair being one of the most important topics in black community. As a young kid, I was consistently told “boy, you got good hair; where your family from?” It was funny because another big thing I remember growing up was that, if you were considered to have “good hair”, it was then immediately assumed you had “Cherokee Indian” in your family (especially if you had naturally curly or wavy hair) ROTF! I remember being in grandma’s kitchen, and seeing for the first time, my aunt sporting a full on afro. I was such in awe, because I couldn’t believe how it was possible that one human being could get her hair so perfect! I mean, there was absolutely no imperfection with my aunt’s afro. No swerves, no dents, no loose strands, no nothing! It was just amazing to see. I realized then just how important having good hair really was to black folk in the 70’s. As I got older I also recognized something else, that the good hair/bad hair mentality further perpetuated the light skin/dark skin social issues we had at the time, which continued to about the mid 80’s I think. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve always had these issues, but the good hair/bad hair seemed to have added a more complex level, the the already complex issue of light and dark skin. At one time, light skin and dark skin people were damn near segregated amongst each other. Everybody wanted a light skinned person, because there were seen as most likely to be educated and better looking. The only exception to that rule, is if you were a dark skinned person with good hair. I am not making this stuff up. All of my young readers, ask your parents, and grand parents, they will tell you.
I really hated this strong emphasis on hair a lot because, I guess ’cause I was a young kid, women in particular always had this thing where they MUST touch your hair to see how good it was! It was like women had this unofficial “good hair/bad hair test mechanism” using their four fingers. I’m not sure if it was different for girls, but speaking as a young boy, women (often times without even permission; it was like a calling) would proceed to dip their middle finger in my scalp, and work their way from the back to the front of my head. If their fingers could glide through my hair without finding any knots in my hair, I was deemed as having good hair LOL. Hair was so important back then that, you could party all night, go directly to work, smell funky as hell from all the dancing (Right Guard spray was huge in the seventies, and it made sweaty arms smell worse when an extra layer was applied.. LOL), but most did not care, so long as they’re hair and the rest of your appearance looked good, they were good.
I remember grandma’s house would to stay smelling of hot curling iron’s, hot combs, and Hot pics. I guess even today hair is still just as important. However, I think the difference today is, when a person sees someone with nice hair, they usually look at the whole package now, rather then using the hair to predict or prejudge someone’s intellectual, genetic, or even how successful they may be, solely on the basis of hair.
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