Shit Bougie Black People Love: 25. Natural Hair


If you ever happened across a Bougie Black Person at a gallery crawl or a blogging conference and you wanted to make them happy, ask them about natural hair. If it's a woman, ask her to share her "big chop" story, and pull up a chair as she regales you with a 30-minute-long tale that includes words and phrases like "after the breakup" and "texturizer" and "Mekhi Phifer." She might even add how her great aunt threatened to disown her. If it's a man, listen to him express how he "really wasn't into natural chicks like that" until he heard some track on "that Common album where he's rocking a hoodie in space on the cover" and has been hooked since.

And, if you can find no Bougie Black People around to ask about natural hair, don't be too concerned. Just create a flyer for a "natural hair meet up" with a predetermined location, drop a couple at each of your city's Thai restaurants, and they'll eventually find you!

While the day party is the Bougie Black Person's shrewdest invention, the natural hair movement is their best. You see, Bougie Black People love making statements. Preferably statements about themselves. And what they love even more than making statements about themselves is making statements about themselves without even saying anything. They often accomplish this by doing things like "wearing Teespring t-shirts" and "joining Black Girls Run" and "marrying White men," but nothing does it as well as an affinity for natural hair does.


To wit, having natural hair — or being with a Bougie Black Girl with natural hair — says each of the following things:

1. "I'm embracing my Blackness!"

This allows BBP, occasionally self-conscious of their standing with regular Blacks, to do things like "go to harvest festivals" and "attend Phish concerts" without anyone questioning their true cultural allegiance.

2. "I'm aware of the effects of colonization, and I'm rejecting them!"

This allows BBP a subtle expression of their hate for White people while simultaneously climbing the corporate ladder at predominately White corporations. (This seems like a paradox, but it is not.)


3. "I am educated, and I have refined cultural and aesthetic standards"

This allows BBP to do things like participate in game night twerk contests while not feeling self-conscious about people questioning their judgment. (This also seems like a paradox. And you're right. It is.)


4. "I am not my hair! My hair doesn't define me!"

At least, they think they're saying "My hair doesn't define me!" But, by spending dozens of hours each week shopping for hair products and watching YouTube tutorials on using them, regularly attending and/or speaking at natural hair panels, professing only to date natural women, and silently shading those who haven't gone natural yet, they're actually saying "My hair definitely defines me!"

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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Agatha Guilluame

Imma do me.