My White Boyfriend Told Me to Grow an Afro
I took the plunge and stopped relaxing my hair a few years ago, and I haven’t looked back
The entitlement of White men is notorious and well-documented. They think nothing of laying claim to land they just sailed their ships up to and forcing their religion upon other cultures they haven’t deigned to understand. Also, boat shoes. Therefore, it should not surprise you to hear that after spending a few years in a relationship with me, a Black woman, my White man started to have some ideas about my hair: his preferences for the way it looked and how I spend my time caring for it. Essentially, he wanted me to stop getting relaxers, “go natural,” and wear my hair in the style of an Afro.
It was partly my fault. I showed him Chris Rock’s 2009 documentary Good Hair. In the movie, Chris pulls back the curtain on the lengths that Black women go to maintain their hair. And, I’ll be honest. It’s A LOT. The money, the time, the effort of day-to-day maintenance is INCREDIBLE. Trust me. Or don’t trust me. Watch the documentary and you’ll be a believer.
So I think partly bolstered by the fact that Rock was also calling us out and partly because he’s just a White dude and spitting opinions is what they do, my man felt “entitled” to share his (unsolicited) opinion on the matter of my hairdo. “Chad” (not his real name but a generic White guy name that pretty much tracks) wanted me to change my hair because…
He thought I was spending too much time in the salon. And he wasn’t wrong. Every six weeks I would go to this beauty parlor in Queens to get a relaxer. Don’t know what a relaxer is? It’s a chemical straightener that literally permanently “relaxes” the natural curl that is in most Black hair. Then every one to two weeks, usually closer to two, I’d go to the salon to get my hair washed and blown out. I would basically be in the salon every one to two weeks for two to four hours.
At that point in the relationship I essentially lived with Chad in Brooklyn so I’d have to travel over an hour to go see my hairdresser in Queens. Then that’s two to four hours in the salon and then an hour back. Why didn’t I find a hairdresser in Brooklyn? Well, you know that Black women are…