Now You’re talking My Language.
Natural black hair or NBH for short is an extensive community with its own practices, language, rules, and regulations. However, a tale as old as time, the NBH community has had its voices and actions sort of stifled due to society’s view of normal or natural hair. Society tends to be more comfortable with people who have straight or chemically straighten hair versus those who rock the natural crown God gave them. Some people outside of the community use terms like nappy, unmanageable, too thick, and kinky to describe NBH. Silly, bottomless-pit type questions are often asked about the diversity of black hair. “Why do you own a comb or even try if you can’t pull it straight through your hair?” “I’ve never seen a black person with long hair, is that real?” “I’ve always thought black people’s hair looked like hay, I’m so surprised it’s as soft as it is, as fingers are being thrust into your hair without warning or permission. “What do you do to make it not so hay-like?” “Natural black hair is so weird, why don’t you wear a weave, it makes you look more normal?” Even with society rules and regulations the NBH community is at an all-time high taking back those stereotypes and turning them into positive guiding light. NBH participants and enthusiasts are calling attention to the practices, language, rules and regulations of NBH by looking at the restrictions on natural hair, specific products and rituals the community uses, and the contrast of putting everyone in the normal hair category.
Natural Black Hair is a group of people who have decided to let go of the idea and practices that straight hair is “better”. NBH community is not only engulfing themselves in the idea of natural hair but are geared towards healthy hair, something those with chemically altered or heat straighten may not be able to achieve properly. The NBH members strive to use hair products that will cater to the unique structure of their hair type. The community also mentions that its important to know that no matter your NBH type, 4a loose curls that fall, 4b stiffer curls that sit in place, or 4c an afro with no specific curl pattern, that your hair is perfect the way it is and so are you.
The most important aspect of being part of the NBH community is if you have the correct qualifications. Since NBH has been deemed less than attractive, a basic understanding of it is not common knowledge. Without “common sense” of NBH a lot of the common terms and practices make no sense what so ever. Hopefully, obviously the most important qualification is natural hair. Black people are born with a natural hair, that the community calls a God given crown. Yet, later in life some NBH members tend to appease to Eurocentric beauty standards by using chemical relaxers or some form of heat to straighten their hair. A personal tale, when I was a juvenile all my friends had long blonde or brunette hair. I would watch all my friends with their flowing hair, effortlessly swing their ponytails as they walked down the halls, I wanted my hair to do that! My natural curls grow like nature’s oxygen, tree branches, stretching towards the sunny heavens, defying gravity, making it impossible for my hair to flow with such beautiful disarray. Nevertheless, I was determined to see my hair trail behind me in the wind, so I subscribed my nature defying hair with the harsh, unforgiving treatments. Now with the NBH community thrusting their voices and natural curls into the world, I see how much repressing my God given beauty crown was a mistake, lesson learned. The relaxers may have made my hair flow like my peers, but boy did they damage my delicate hair and scalp. For most NBH members, repeated use of heat and chemical straightening will damage your scalp and hair. The chemicals in the straighteners scorch your hair follicles like a farmer’s crops being burned by the sun, making it impossible for healthy growth. Using heat like pressing combs and hair straighteners will burn and dry out your hair strands no matter how “good” of straightener you may think you have. However, the NBH community encourages African threading as a method of safe straiting to determine hair growth and health. African threading is when you section your hair in to individual small box like parts. Depending on your NBH type and length will determine how you start the process of wrapping sting around those individual box parts, starting at the root until you reach the end of that strand. Vloggers have videos on YouTube for NBH participates and enthusiast discussing proper African threading and other natural ways to care for NBH.
The communication within NBH community is vast thanks to social media, blogs, and vlogs. Social media such as Facebook and YouTube have given the community a platform where they can share goals, concerns, problems, and praises on NBH. Blogging and Vlogging are the easiest and most popular way to share information within the community. The videos consist of a language the NBH community uses called African American Vernacular English or AAVE for short. Speaking AAVE when discussing NBH makes it even more confusing for those outside of the NBH community. Phrases like pre-shampooing are all the rage in NBH vlogs. NBH Blogs usually share stories about different hair situations good or bad, hair styles, proper products for hair type, and proper hair treatments. Facebook has hundreds of pages public and private like, NATURAL HAIR RULES, LOVE IT, STYLE IT AND PROUD OF IT that are made to give platforms and comfortable spaces for NBH. NBH members find a favorite vlogger on YouTube for inspiration aka “hair goals”. Most vloggers communicate with ease with their subscribers through public comments or private messengers to answer questions and give hair tips. Brenna Rutter and many other NBH vloggers and bloggers have become hair goals that the NBH community can follow no matter your NBH type.
NBH type is defined in multiple categories with subcategories and each category has its own care regimens. I mentioned earlier the NBH hair types are 4a,4b,4c. NBH vloggers and bloggers say the coolest part of the community is the uniqueness each curl pattern has. The subcategories are meant to show you what kind of products work best for you. All NBH members need to have a patience, specific products and regiments for good hair care. The community believes that proper moisturizers such as leave in conditioners, and natural oils like coconut oil, argon oil, and grapeseed oil are extremely important so the delicate strands of your hair are not damage during manipulation. Naturals oils and moisturizers help NBH hair kind of like dry shampoo helps people who have straight hair except your hair should be clean and washed when using these products. Having a hair regimen in the NBH community is know as “wash day”. NBH members usually take a specific day out of the month to wash their hair. I know what your thinking, yes its really takes a whole day to wash manage and style NBH. If it’s not the whole day a minimum of 10 to 12 hours to complete the wash day process. Vloggers give tips on proper “wash day” techniques pre-shampooing, and shampooing should only occur biweekly. Pre-shampooing is using natural oils on NBH, so you can loosen the curls for manipulation. However, the two next steps on wash day after shampooing is deep conditioning and detangling. Deep conditioning is to only be done once a month, using natural oils and a heat cap and plastic shower cap so the heat isn’t directly on your hair. The purpose of deep conditioning is to open the structure of your hair shaft, so you can retain as much moisture as possible. But, detangling is to be done once a week using leave in conditioners so NBH won’t become tangled together, because of the unique curl patterns like too many fishing lines wading in shallow water. A common problem NBH members discuss on these pages are finding hair styles for their jobs that are deemed professional yet has minimal manipulation to reduces damage.
NBH members use what they call protective styling and sleep wear to preserve their sensitive hair. The problem that NBH members run into with protective styling is the most common practices as in crown rows, dreadlocks, braids, twist or just wearing your hair in its natural state an afro, are deemed attention seeking and unprofessional. Members outside of NBH community who are not familiar with the importance of these styling practices enforce rules and regulations within schools and jobs prohibiting these NBH healthy practices. Another important practices the NBH community finds important is wrapping your hair in a silk or satin bonnet that in the community is referred to as a scarf. The scarf is the finishing touch at the end of the day for the NBH community like superman hanging up his cape after fighting the unforgiving world all day.
Even though there are rules and regulations pushed on to the NBH communities’ practices, language, rules and personal regulations their voices will not be stifled if communication continues with in the NBH community.