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by Nicole Pen­nant

What do we mean when we assert that we are 100% Black? I have been nat­u­ral since 2004.  I became a fol­low­er of nat­u­ral hair blogs/vlogs over the last cou­ple of years because I start­ed car­ing for my own hair at home.  The infor­ma­tion that I have learned from the­se sources has been invalu­able. How­ev­er, I have also observed the often heat­ed debates that occur about nat­u­ral hair.  One that stands out in par­tic­u­lar has been about indi­vid­u­als that have grown long nat­u­ral hair.  Ques­tions or state­ments about an individual’s back­ground always seem to arise. The fol­low­ing statements/questions come from the com­ment sec­tions of a selec­tion of bloggers/vloggers: “Are you mixed?” ‘You’re mixed with some­thing right?” 

The­se questions/responses are then fol­lowed by either the indi­vid­u­al or oth­ers assert­ing the Black­ness of the indi­vid­u­al: “Why do peo­ple think black peo­ple need to be mixed to have great healthy long hair?!!!” “No. No she’s not mixed with some­thing.”

And in some cas­es peo­ple make the claim that they or the per­son is 100% Black: “Yes, I’m 100% Black.” “[insert vlog­ger name] is 100% black…” “I am 100% Black and my hair has always been lengthy.”

I find asser­tions like “100% Black” or those allud­ing to some­one being “all black” to be puz­zling since it is just not true.

When I was in col­lege I took a cul­tur­al anthro­pol­o­gy class while pur­su­ing my degree in African Amer­i­can Stud­ies. It was first time I was intro­duced to how DNA was being used to trace a person’s geneal­o­gy and ances­try.  We watched a doc­u­men­tary in the class called “Moth­er­land: A Genet­ic Jour­ney”.  In the film, we observed three British African Caribbeans trace their ances­try using DNA.  Since this film then there have been many more pro­grams focus­ing on the sci­ence of ances­try. Some of the most promi­nent pro­grams have been Hen­ry Louis Gates’ “Find­ing Our Roots” and “African Amer­i­can Lives.”  I find the­se shows fas­ci­nat­ing because of the his­to­ry that is often hid­den under­neath phe­no­typ­ic char­ac­ter­is­tics like race.  For instance, on “Find­ing Our Roots” actor Don Cheadle found out that he was 19% White and that he also had Native Amer­i­can in his fam­i­ly lin­eage. In “African Amer­i­can Lives” Chris Rock found out he was 30% White.  Samuel L. Jack­son found he could poten­tial­ly apply to be a mem­ber of the Sons of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion because of a White ances­tor on “Find­ing Our Roots.” 

Recent­ly Gates wrote an arti­cle in The Root enti­tled “Exact­ly How ‘Black’ Is Black Amer­i­ca” dis­cussing the ances­try of Black Amer­i­cans.  In the arti­cle he indi­cat­ed that most Black Amer­i­cans have mixed race her­itage when DNA test­ing is con­duct­ed.
* Accord­ing to Ancestry.com, the aver­age African Amer­i­can is 65 per­cent sub-Saha­ran African, 29 per­cent Euro­pean and 2 per­cent Native Amer­i­can.
* Accord­ing to Fam­i­ly Tree DNA.com, the aver­age African Amer­i­can is 72.95 per­cent sub-Saha­ran African, 22.83 per­cent Euro­pean and 1.7 per­cent Native Amer­i­can.
* Accord­ing to Nation­al Geographic’s Geno­graph­ic Project, the aver­age African Amer­i­can is 80 per­cent sub-Saha­ran African, 19 per­cent Euro­pean and 1 per­cent Native Amer­i­can.

The­se find­ings indi­cate that the major­i­ty of Black Amer­i­cans ARE NOT 100% Black.  Mak­ing this claim to per­cent­age of Black­ness is sim­ply inac­cu­rate.  Who we are today is sig­nif­i­cant­ly shaped by our past.  From my per­spec­tive acknowl­edg­ing this racial mix­ing does not dimin­ish our his­to­ry because it is a part of the his­to­ry. Nor does it down­play the Black expe­ri­ence and what it means to be Black in Amer­i­ca. The cre­ation of racial groups in Amer­i­can soci­ety was a social con­struc­tion that had a lot less to do with genet­ics and more to do with phys­i­cal appear­ance.

In the area of hair care I think aware­ness of this his­to­ry is also impor­tant.  Try­ing to make claims about Black authen­tic­i­ty or 100% Black­ness with regards to some­thing that is actu­al­ly shaped to some degree by genet­ics like hair seems odd.  But, we also know that good hair care prac­tices have a sig­nif­i­cant influ­ence on hair growth and that many of us were unaware of that until recent­ly. A lot of the infor­ma­tion that we were lack­ing was due the uplift­ing of Euro­pean stan­dards of beau­ty and the stigma­ti­za­tion of curlier and tex­tured hair com­mon­ly found in the Black com­mu­ni­ty.  Con­se­quent­ly, many of us nev­er learned the prop­er care for our hair.

So when we observe some­one with hair that would be con­sid­ered excep­tion­al­ly long or a looser curl pat­tern we shouldn’t imme­di­ate­ly run to deter­mine their racial/ethnic make-up in order to explain the ease of their hair care rou­tine or growth.  For one thing, those same indi­vid­u­als propos­ing the ques­tion are more than like­ly some sort of racial mix as well. Addi­tion­al­ly, being aware of the racial mix­ing in the past does not min­i­mize the new his­to­ry being cre­at­ed by Blacks who wear nat­u­ral hair. 

The Black com­mu­ni­ty is diverse and the dif­fer­ences we observe should be accept­ed as part of the Black expe­ri­ence instead of being used as a lit­mus test for Black­ness.

Nicole Pen­nant is a guest con­trib­u­tor.  She is cur­rent­ly pur­su­ing her doc­tor­ate in Polit­i­cal Sci­ence with a focus on Black Pol­i­tics.  You can reach her at nicole.pennant@gmail.com.

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noel­lis­te, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop cul­ture and black beau­ty enthu­si­ast. bell hooks’ hair twin…

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204 Comments on "Ending Our Association of Long Hair with Mixed Heritage"

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gigi
all well stat­ed, and we need to remem­ber, genes are an unwieldy lot! You blend them up and some­times the dom­i­nant ones do their job as they should & and some­times the reces­sives take over, then in the next gen­er­a­tion they might leave or show up again in full force! 18% this, 32% that, 4% the oth­er can come out in ANY way it pleas­es, so peo­ple need to love all their love­ly blend­ings and just be… the lit­tle bit of hazel flecks in your eyes doesn’t give you more val­ue than some­one with a solid brown… a looser ringlet… Read more »
Candice

Also when blacks say “100% black”, this is com­ing from our his­to­ry of nam­ing the per­cent­age of black­ness in our imme­di­ate ances­try (e.g., 50%=mulatto; 25%=quadroon; 1.25%=octoroon). There was a per­cent­age of black­ness at which you could once again con­sid­er your­self legal­ly white. The expres­sion, “a touch of the tar­brush” meant that you couldn’t pass for white even though a per­son looked pre­dom­i­nate­ly white. It seems as if the author of this arti­cle has either cho­sen to dis­re­gard this or has just com­plete­ly missed the point on this.

AimHighLoveWide
Although this dis­cus­sion can become mun­dane at times to adults please con­tin­ue to have the­se con­ver­sa­tions with your sur­round­ing youth. As an edu­ca­tor in a pre­dom­i­nant­ly African-Amer­i­can school you would be sur­prised at the com­ments our young, black girls make regard­ing our hair and com­plex­ion. In a school of 750 stu­dents there may be one or two stu­dents and may­be 6 staff mem­bers who are nat­u­ral (most of my mid­dle school stu­dents wear weaves or wigs). The con­stant “are you mixed” ques­tion to my 16 yr old daugh­ter at school is also drain­ing to her. She has a loose 3B curl… Read more »
Jessica

I real­ize that I am tak­ing away such a small part of what you said, but seri­ous­ly- mid­dle school aged girls wear­ing wigs and weaves is so sad to me. It starts young- if we don’t enforce the notion of our nat­u­ral beau­ty, who will? I am not a teacher (which, by the way, I com­mend you for) but hope that I can be an exam­ple to my sons and nieces of just how beau­ti­ful we as Black wom­en are…naturally!

Antrelise
Hi Jes­si­ca. I also have sons (4 & 6) and I make it a point to point out var­i­ous choco­late women/girls and say how beau­ti­ful they are. I say “look how beau­ti­ful; her tone is so rich; or look how choco­late she is!!” I feel that as a moth­er of black sons I have to be dili­gent. I want my boys to nev­er ques­tion Black women’s beau­ty or sub­scribe to the Euro­pean stan­dard of beauty.…..and before any­one says anything.….I don’t point out our lighter skinned beau­ties because they get enough val­i­da­tion :) :). But seri­ous­ly, I’m just say­ing that hard­ly… Read more »
Trini

Right on! I also encour­age the nat­u­ral stu­dents that encoun­ter in the hall­ways.

Candice

I per­son­al­ly am offend­ed when peo­ple assume that there is some­thing in my cul­ture make­up oth­er than it appears because they think my hair is nice. I feel that per­son is basi­cal­ly say­ing White (or some eth­nic­i­ty oth­er than black) is mak­ing me bet­ter and that Black can’t be nat­u­ral­ly beau­ti­ful. It is not a com­pli­ment.

African Naturalista

Most Blacks in Amer­i­ca are not 100% black, which is why your hair is most com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent from Blacks in Africa. They grow at dif­fer­ent rates, they look dif­fer­ent, they even react dif­fer­ent­ly to the same set of prod­ucts. When it comes to length of hair, race will always have some­thing to do with it, though I see no way it should cause a con­tro­ver­sy. It is just what it is.

African Naturalista

I meant I see no rea­son why it should cause a con­tro­ver­sy

eve-audrey

wrong again i don’t know which plan­et you come from but you find as many dif­fer­ent hair types and lenght in african amer­i­cans as you find in africans. this site shows it just take a sec­ond look.

Maggie
@SJ — What about the pres­ence of the Por­tugue­se and oth­er races in Nige­ria before the onset of Amer­i­can slav­ery? When there was hap­py free trade going on. I mean the land mass wasn’t always con­sid­ered “Nige­ria”. From my under­stand­ing many Nige­ri­ans can’t real­ly trace their lin­eage past great-great-great.…let alone say­ing who was where or “what” (mixed and such) before 1600. One gen­er­a­tion is only 30yrs (some say 25yrs) not 100 or 50 years. So to say you can trace your lin­eage back 6 gen­er­a­tions is not that much.  British peo­ple have records (not just arti­facts and pieces of art here… Read more »
CONNIE1
AND WHAT ABOUT JUST PURE 100% AFRICANS. AFRICA IS THE BIRTH PLACE. SO WHY ARE YOU ALL SO STUCK ON NOT BELIEVING THAT THERE ARE SOME 100% BLACK AFRICANS OUT THERE WITH NO MIXES. IM SURE YOU WOULDNT DEBATE THAT THERE ARE SOME 100% EUROPEANS OUT THERE. SO PLEASE STOP WITH THE LIES. ALSO MOST OF YOUR HISTORY BOOKS ARE WRONG AND WRITTEN TO MAKE BLACKS FEEL DEGRADED. HALF OF IT IS UNTRUE. I AM BLACK 100% AND I HAVE LONG NATURAL HAIR. NOT BECAUSE OF ANY MIXES IN MY FAMILY. I HAVE NO MIXES. I AM JUST MIXED WITH… Read more »
SJ
Hi Mag­gie, I do under­stand what points you’re mak­ing, but real­ize that I said pre­dom­i­nant­ly black, if not 100%. And you bring up a good point: oth­er races may have mixed before the pres­ence of the British. This is all true. But it is impor­tant to real­ize as well that after a cer­tain num­ber of gen­er­a­tions, can we even real­ly count it for much? In oth­er words, if I had a Por­tugue­se ances­tor from the 1100s, would it count for much more than 10%? 5%? 1%? Think about it: the more recent the mis­ce­gena­tion, the more appar­ent the lega­cy of… Read more »
Maggie
“Light skin, nar­row noses, thin lips, type 3 hair was also on the con­ti­nent, depend­ing on what eth­nic group you want to look at…”  You can find the­se traits in Aus­tralia, South Amer­i­ca, Ocea­nia, India and some parts of Asia as well. Mis­ce­gena­tion has added to diver­si­ty of the plan­et IN GENERAL. Not to men­tion being able to find Dark skinned, broad nosed, type 4 hair peo­ple in all those same regions.  Depend­ing on what “the­o­ry” of human evo­lu­tion and mass migra­tion you believe, we have been mix­ing since we as humans came into exis­tence (when­ev­er that was). If you believe… Read more »
SJ
Hi Mag­gie, I do under­stand what points you’re mak­ing, but real­ize that I said pre­dom­i­nant­ly black, if not 100%. And you bring up a good point: oth­er races may have mixed before the pres­ence of the British. This is all true. But it is impor­tant to real­ize as well that after a cer­tain num­ber of gen­er­a­tions, can we even real­ly count it for much? In oth­er words, if I had a Por­tugue­se ances­tor from the 1100s, would it count for much more than 10%? 5%? 1%? Think about it: the more recent the mis­ce­gena­tion, the more appar­ent the lega­cy of… Read more »
Stace
I find it ques­tion­able on why there is even so much work being done into decod­ing the black race, and iden­ti­fy­ing who is or isn’t black (eg. abo­rig­i­nal peo­ples of Aus­tralia, and pau­pa new guinea). Africa is the largest con­ti­nent and it has been estab­lished that human migra­tion moved out from the heart of africa. So with that being said how can some­one by exam­in­ing the DNA of peo­ples who migrat­ed thou­sands of gen­er­a­tion ago and then iso­lat­ed on islands say that this per­son is not black, but only looks black. When there are so many tribes and peo­ples of… Read more »
Nana
You make good points as there are 250 cul­tures in Nige­ria alone and most of them are mis­placed her­itages struck by the dam­ages of colo­nial­ism. The Yoruba lan­guage alone has sur­pris­ing ele­ments of Ara­bic and Por­tugue­se and oral tra­di­tion will tell you that our peo­ple come from the king­doms of Axum, Song­hai, Oyo etc (which are far from being in the same locus of West Africa. Also they recent­ly dis­cov­ered the old­est boat was from Nige­ria (I think it’s over 3000 years old). Com­bine this with the fact that many Olmec and Maya god-like struc­tures have facial fea­tures sim­i­lar to designs… Read more »
eve-audrey

inter­est­ing i just found a kore­an site that states the old­est boat was found near seoul 8000 years ago could you give me your sources?

Nana
boazwife

It seems to me that the author had a premise and float­ed a few sparse facts to sup­port it. In all hon­esty, for those of us who have reg­u­lar­ly researched nat­u­ral hair care on the pop­u­lar blogs, how often has any of the­se argu­ments sur­faced, less than 1% of the time, I’d say. I’ve seen more arti­cles on the con­tro­ver­sy of long hair and eth­nic­i­ty, then any actu­al con­tro­ver­sy.

Nicole Pennant
Hi boazwife, I am not say­ing this is the major debate of nat­u­ral hair. I assert­ed that I have seen it often enough that it stood out to me which led to writ­ing this arti­cle. I have sta­tis­ti­cal train­ing and I am not try­ing to assert that the small sam­ple of quotes I took from var­i­ous web­sites is indica­tive of the whole nat­u­ral pop­u­la­tion or dis­course. They served as inspi­ra­tion for a broad­er piece. I would ask though, this is not meant as snark, but if your claim is that this hap­pens less than 1% of the time is this… Read more »
Lenya Jones

Thank you so much for post­ing this very well writ­ten and infor­ma­tive piece.

Nicole Pennant

Thanks Lenya Jones. Glad that you liked it.

Michelle

Thank you for writ­ing this arti­cle, it was very infor­ma­tive. :)

Nicole Pennant

Thanks Michelle. Glad you liked it. I love being Black and iden­ti­fy strong­ly with it but I do find DNA and ances­try to be fas­ci­nat­ing.

Ingy

I have been a con­scious nat­u­ral for a year 1/2. I iden­ti­fy myself as an African Amer­i­can wom­an with a com­bi­na­tion of (what I think is) 3c, 4a & 4b tex­tures on my head. My mother’s racial back­ground is pri­ma­ry Irish & Native Amer­i­can (Lako­ta). My father is a pro­pi­onate mix of African (East­ern African) & Native Amer­i­can (Chero­kee). I strong­ly believe that with­out that African touch my hair WOULD NOT be as dope as it is. 100% or not I got my “good hair” from my African roots!

Nicole Pennant

:o) Excel­lent. I love my hair tex­ture as well. 4A/4B here. I love that it can be mold­ed, sculpt­ed and shaped to do so many things. I am always get­ting ques­tion and com­pli­ments my hair from peo­ple of many dif­fer­ent back­grounds. Wouldn’t want it any oth­er way.

Carla

This was a real­ly great read. Like you I am fas­ci­nat­ed by our diverse ances­try and want to do research this year to dis­cov­er more about my own. I believe that when wom­en refer to being 100% black they are ref­er­enc­ing what they know. I am black as far as I know although I have some mix­tures like many of us do. The mix­tures are beau­ti­ful, but also unfor­tu­nate. So many of us don’t know our his­to­ry or where our peo­ple come from out­side of MS or NC smh.

Nicole Pennant

Thanks Car­la. Glad you liked it!

Cass

Thought­ful post.

Nicole Pennant

Thanks Cass.

J. Nicole of UrbanExpressive

Peo­ple have been con­di­tioned for years to believe Black hair doesn’t grow, and if it does, it means because you’re “mixed with some­thing”. It’s going to take a while for them to real­ize that, but in the mean­time I find it unec­es­sary to waste much time on them. I think its com­mon knowl­edge (or should be) that because of the dias­po­ra Black peo­ple-all over the world have var­i­ous aes­thet­ic appear­ances. There’s way too much info out there for peo­ple to still be so igno­rant.

Nicole Pennant
Hi J. Nicole of UrbanEx­pres­sive, I think your right that con­di­tion­ing of one idea over time has had a sig­nif­i­cant impact. How­ev­er, I wouldn’t just assume what peo­ple know. I have taught under­grad­u­ate course in high­er edu­ca­tion now for many years. I used to always find myself floored by what peo­ple do and don’t know. I have under­grads, Black and White, who believe that Black Pol­i­tics for instance didn’t start until Mar­t­in Luther King and that Blacks fight­ing for rights is a “new” move­ment. They don’t think of Har­ri­et Tub­man, the Slave Trade, Nat Turn­er, the abo­li­tion­ist move­ment, or even… Read more »
J. Nicole of UrbanExpressive

Right, that’s why I put “or should be” in paren­the­ses. I’m grate­ful to be around & con­tin­ue to meet peo­ple who know bet­ter and all I can do is hope every­one else falls suit, but if they don’t I won’t lose sleep over them.

jjac401
Thank you for this arti­cle. I have always had to deal with oth­er African Amer­i­cans (AA) ques­tion my racial admix because of the length and tex­ture of my hair. For some rea­son I used to find the­se ques­tions and com­ments annoy­ing. The truth is that AA are typ­i­cal­ly admixed due to our his­to­ry and often times it shows up esthet­i­cal­ly. But should this be a big deal?  Just for my own fact find­ing about my fam­i­ly I had a DNA test last year which pro­vid­ed me the results of my admix, of course it indi­cat­ed per­cent­ages of Sub-Saha­ran African and non-Sub-Saha­ran… Read more »
Nicole Pennant

Hi jjac401,

I com­plete­ly agree! I am glad that you liked the arti­cle.

Cleo
Peo­ple will always cred­it being mixed with hav­ing long hair, that’s how it is unfor­tu­nate­ly. In real­i­ty there tons of bira­cial or mul­tira­cial peo­ple with dam­aged, short, unhealthy hair. While there are black peo­ple with healthy heads of hair. It’s about hair prac­tices and reg­i­mens, but a lot of black peo­ple don’t want to hear that it’s oh you must be mixed with some­thing right?? What Amer­i­can born cit­i­zen isn’t mixed (includ­ing white peo­ple) I will nev­er cred­it an Indi­an ances­tor from 200 years ago on my hair tex­ture and how it grows, that crazy. Even when I had long… Read more »
Nicole Pennant
Hi Cleo, Hel­lo Cleo, I under­stand your point and let me clear I don’t think mixed race equal healthy hair either. I have seen peo­ple with all kinds of hair from a vari­ety of racial and eth­nic back­grounds strug­gle to grow hair because the hair as been treat­ed poor­ly and is dam­aged. I have had friends that iden­ti­fy as white dis­cuss their dif­fi­cul­ties with grow­ing hair because every White female doesn’t auto­mat­i­cal­ly grow long hair. There hair can han­dle more dam­age due to the strength of the strands but you still have to treat it prop­er­ly for it to be healthy.… Read more »
CONNIE1
NICOLE, THE ARTICLE MAKES THE ISSUE WORSE. SOME OF US ARE NOT MIXED. WHY IS THAT SO HARD TO BELIEVE? THERE ARE CERTAIN TRIBES IN AFRICA THAT ARE 100% AFRICAN. NO MIXTURE, NO EUROPEAN BLOOD. BASICALLY WHAT YOUR SAYING IS THAT WE ARE ALL MIXED AND OUR HAIR IS DIFFERENT BECAUSE OF IT. NOT TRUE! AFRICANS HAVE ALWAYS HAD BEAUTIFUL HAIR BEFORE THE EUROPEANS EVEN DISCOVERED THE CONTINENT. SO WHEN PEOPLE SAY I AM 100% BLACK, THEY TRULY MAY BE. THEY ARE TRYING TO TELL YOU THAT NO ONE IN THEIR FAMILY IS EUROPEAN OR NATIVE AMRICAN OR WHATEVER. THEIR… Read more »
Antrelise
Although I under­stand the jest of your posi­tion, I do believe that when black girls with long hair refer to them­selves as 100% black they are not igno­rant to the fact that some­where in their ances­try lies dif­fer­ent blood (just like the peo­ple with kinky and short hair) I’m con­stant­ly accost­ed by peo­ple who insist that I must be mixed!! I tell them no, I’m all BLACK/non-Caribbean!! Of course then they want to know where my parents/grandparents are from. I say Geor­gia. Then I have to explain that both of my par­ents are black, both of their par­ents are black,… Read more »
maralondon

What is your per­cep­tion of a Caribbean? Don’t you know that Amer­i­ca, North and South and the Caribbean are of the same Con­ti­nent?

Antrelise

Not sure if your ques­tion was for me but, I live in South Flori­da, and if some­one says you look like you are from the Caribbean what they mean is that you look like you are mixed with Indi­an, Chi­ne­se, etc. may­be it has a dif­fer­ent con­no­ta­tion where you are from. So that’s why I said black/noncaribbean to empha­size that I am not mixed.

maralondon

Not all peo­ple from the Caribbean are mixed with Indi­an, Chi­ne­se etc… where do peo­ple get this notion from? The major­i­ty of the­se peo­ple tend to stick with their own any­way so it kind of dis­pels that myth.

Antrelise

I agree!!
In fact , the peo­ple who ask me this ques­tion are almost always from the Caribbean, but NEVER look like they are “mixed” them­selves. Not sure what that’s all about :)

maralondon

What is your per­cep­tion of a Caribbean? I find that an odd state­ment since Amer­i­ca, South and North are of the same Con­ti­nent

TINA SMITH

YES LORD SAY IT AGAIN!!!! IT’S ANNOYING WHY CAN’T WE CREDIT FOR OUR BEAUTY BECAUSE WE ARE BLACK, NOT BECAUSE OF A MIX IN THERE

Kandis

Per­fect­ly stat­ed Antrelise! And I do the exact same thing…it’s so fun­ny to see how frus­trat­ed peo­ple get when I tell them my par­ents, grand­par­ents and great grand­par­ents are all Black…their minds just can’t han­dle it! SMH

anastasia

I’m smil­ing read­ing this b/c just today I told some­one I was mixed w/ black, black­er, and black­est. The look on her face was price­less.

Antrelise

I know right, Kan­dis!! And even after all that, they still say.… You prob­a­bly have a grand­par­ent from Jamaica or Trinidad and you just don’t know!! Hap­py to hear I’m not alone :)

Anne
I hear you. I get that ALL the time. Peo­ple tell me I can­not pos­si­bly be ALL black and truth­ful­ly I’m not– I’m part West Indi­an but to igno­rant peo­ple Black is Black if your skin is brown and your hair is some­what thick and unruly or nap­py then YOU ARE BLACK that’s just the way the world works. It both­ers me because peo­ple often pick me apart from hair to my skin com­plex­ion to the sound of my voice telling me because I have the attrib­ut­es that are con­sid­ered “beau­ti­ful” by the world then I MUST be mixed because… Read more »
Kandis
Anne — you said it…It’s so sad..whenever a Black wom­an has long hair or is attrac­tive, some­one ALWAYS asks if they’re mixed. And I look at Black actress­es and many of them are always blurt­ing out a list of 6 — 7 things they are…not that there’s any­thing wrong with being mixed at all, but most of the­se folks don’t have any­one but Black folks at their fam­i­ly reunions and they’re just pass­ing along incor­rect infor­ma­tion that some mis­in­formed rel­a­tive has said about their heritage.I look at Asian/White/Hispanic wom­en and they proud­ly rep­re­sent their her­itage and say they’re 100%…I wish… Read more »
Nicole Pennant
Hi Antrelise, I agree with you. Be loud and proud about your hair and why it is the way it is! I love mine as well! I think the peo­ple that this arti­cle is direct­ed at are those who are accost­ing you. You shouldn’t have to explain a lin­eage to jus­ti­fy your hair because we all have a lot going on in our back­grounds. There­fore, peo­ple shouldn’t press to find an expla­na­tion just appre­ci­ate. I too have been accost­ed and I have dark skin and on any race mea­sure or cat­e­go­riza­tion I would be seen as Black. You can’t win… Read more »
Antrelise
Thank you Nicole for your thought­ful respon­se. I will make great efforts in the future to answer as you’ve sug­gest­ed. I hope I live to see the day when black wom­en embrace our hair. Our hair is so unique, versatile.….beautiful. No oth­er “race” has our texture.…not even close!! I’m real­ly in awe. Our hair is not the prob­lem, but our his­tor­i­cal lack of edu­ca­tion about our hair is. Our men already set the stan­dard with their style; now we need to stand proud (with our hair) and show the world a stan­dard of beau­ty that only “we” we’re given. God… Read more »
anastasia

“God nev­er meant it as a curse, but instead, as an hon­or.”
YES!

Jessica

Antrelise…I think you are awesome…that is all

jjac401

@Antrelise — Girl Preach! I also con­tribute my hair’s beau­ty to the 70 per­cent! Heeeeeeyyyyyy now!!!!!

Nia

I find it drain­ing dis­cussing race and such..bc its the same arguments/points over and over. New con­clu­sions are sel­dom­ly reached

me

dis­cus­sion is fine as long as ACTION of some sort is hap­pen­ing as well…

Nicole Pennant
Hi me, My only call to action in this case is that we think more about how divi­sive with each oth­er (the nat­u­ral com­mu­ni­ty) when it comes to hair based on how black peo­ple are. You may not be the per­son doing that and that is cool how­ev­er there are plen­ty of peo­ple that do. This arti­cle was main­ly writ­ten to dis-spell the idea of some sort of “black pure­ness.” I am def­i­nite­ly aware of the fact that a lot of peo­ple hold myths about Black hair and what it can and can­not to. There­fore, I think action is being… Read more »
Nicole Pennant
Hi Nia, I enjoy dis­cussing. I think the top­ic is com­pli­cat­ed and I agree that there aren’t clear con­clu­sions. I do believe it is wor­thy for dia­logue and dis­cus­sion espe­cial­ly in a com­mu­ni­ty (nat­u­ral hair broad­ly) where ques­tions of racial authen­tic­i­ty are fre­quent­ly used as a way to chal­lenge one’s nat­u­ral jour­ney or strug­gles with hair care. I high­light the point main­ly to say we all have a dynam­ic past that is shaped but in many cas­es hor­ri­ble and ter­ri­ble events how­ev­er black­ness is more than just skin col­or or being 100%. Rather it is about a life expe­ri­ence that… Read more »
liberiangirl

@ nia, thank you. i’m get­ting a headache just by read­ing the cap­tion alone.

silkynaps
There’s the tra­di­tion­al West African black aes­thet­ic and there’s the black aes­thet­ic that was tremen­dous­ly influ­enced by mis­ce­gena­tion. Of course, the black aes­thet­ic in the Amer­i­c­as is more like­ly to be influ­enced by mis­ce­gena­tion due to slav­ery and inter­ra­cial unions…yes, that means some black peo­ple will have hair tex­tures and com­plex­ions that are not what we’ve come to know as tra­di­tion­al­ly West African. In the Amer­i­c­as, mis­ce­gena­tion is a fact. Regard­less of hav­ing two brown or black par­ents, it’s naive to think that mis­ce­gena­tion does not play a role in the way we look. DNA is funny…sometimes, first gen­er­a­tion mixed-race… Read more »
Miss T
I don’t under­stand why some peo­ple think black peo­ple come in one shade and one hair tex­ture. I have a light com­plex­ion and my hair is in the 4b/4c range, I’ve had some peo­ple seem to get irri­tat­ed with me or sur­prised because I don’t have the tex­ture of hair “a light skinned girl” is sup­posed to have (very fun­ny too me). I have been called white, mex­i­can, chi­ne­se and almost every oth­er race, most peo­ple who are half white are dark­er than me, My par­ents are black and so are their par­ents, my moth­er is lighter than the aver­age… Read more »
kem247

ey! I am from West Africa, and cor­rect me if I’m wrong but there real­ly isn’t a tra­di­tion­al aes­thet­ic, being from Nige­ria you see a mix­ture of wom­en and men who look “mixed” or have lighter skin. All parts of the world like you said have peo­ple with a mixed race aes­thet­ic, in fact I have met black men and wom­en who look “West African” but they’re ances­tors go back to the Native Amer­i­can.

What I’m try­ing to say, is that one can­not tell if a per­son is mixed just by look­ing at them.

kem247

The com­ment was for silky­naps.

Nana
I won­der where peo­ple get this notion that West Africans or Africans in gen­er­al aren’t mixed. There are whole tribes stretch­ing to Ango­la whose her­itage is part­ly due to Por­tugue­se mis­ce­gena­tion dat­ing back waaaay back to the 1400s. There are whole slave her­itages (such as in Liberia) where after the fall out of slav­ery in West­ern coun­tries Black iden­ti­fied per­sons were shipped back to ran­dom areas of Africa. Recent­ly sci­en­tists have final­ly accept­ed that Chi­ne­se and Kenyan peo­ple share genet­ic sim­i­lar­i­ty due to trade routes. And then you have peo­ple like me. 100% Nige­ri­an but my great-grand mother’s maid­en name… Read more »
natu

WOW! Am real­ly impressed by your answer. It always good to see black peo­ple that know their his­to­ry. To add on to your answer the Arabs also mix­es with the Kenyans and Tan­za­ni­ans. We now refer to them as the Swahilis. Many peo­ple keep for­get­ting that the ‘whites’ set­tled in Africa for a long time there­fore our line was cor­rupt­ed. That said, Africans had var­i­ous skin tones and hair tex­tures even before the­se oth­er nation­al­i­ties dis­cov­ered the con­ti­nent.

SJ
Well, I am a per­son of Nige­ri­an descent who can trace my lin­eage back quite a few gen­er­a­tions. My hair has come a long way and has grown to great lengths. I have 3 tex­tures on my head, with main­ly 4a, but also some 3c and some 4b. I know that I am pre­dom­i­nant­ly black, if not 100% black. In Nige­ria, mis­ce­gena­tion is in our his­to­ry, but not near­ly as preva­lent as it was in the Amer­i­c­as. But at the end of the day, peo­ple still ques­tion my back­ground and assume that I am mixed with some­thing. I like that… Read more »
shelikes
this is an aside, but you are so lucky to be able to trace your lin­eage!!! and not through some dna inter­net order, but through sto­ries hand­ed down each generation…just like the white folks. so cool. i was in west africa once years ago and most of the wom­en i saw had thin dull hair. i just chalked it up to pover­ty, poor diet, stress, relax­ers, weave, etc. those who had short nat­u­ral cuts were pret­ti­est. i real­ly think that once a per­son begins to live a healthy lifestyle and finds healthy prod­ucts for their nat­u­ral hair, it will grow… Read more »
Nana
It makes me won­der what we con­sid­er a “preva­lent” racial phe­nom­e­non. Would it be the kinky hair? Many wom­en of the Cau­ca­sus region (note: Cau­casian actu­al­ly does not denote White) also share that dis­tinc­tion. Wide noses? Many Asi­at­ic cul­tures same the same fea­tures. Or per­haps it is the skin col­or– which we already have estab­lished is not unique to our own dynam­ic. Racial clas­si­fi­ca­tion is so inter­est­ing when you real­ize how lit­tle it actu­al­ly accounts for. Also it’s fun­ny you point out Igbos are lighter. I’m Yoruba and we all tend to be dark as hell LOL I always thought… Read more »
SoSad

I find it inter­est­ing that when­ev­er broad fea­tures, dark skin and coarse hair are attrib­ut­ed to West Africa peo­ple feel the need to point out “but but but Asians have broad fea­tures too.!!!!” or “my mother’s cousin’s boyfriend is white and her hair is so kinky!!!” First of all, who cares? No one was talk­ing about “them” and sec­ond­ly, the excep­tion isn’t the rule and last­ly, would the reac­tion be the same if thin fea­tures, light skin and silky hair was the asso­ci­a­tion?

SJ

I agree, Nana!

SJ
When I say mis­ce­gena­tion was less/more preva­lent, I mean how cul­tur­al­ly com­mon it was to mix with oth­er races in the region in ques­tion. In some regions of Lat­in Amer­i­ca, mis­ce­gena­tion was not real­ly as frowned upon as it was in Africa. I have tak­en a course on this stuff and did a research paper. A lot of it has to do with the preva­lence of slav­ery and “own­er­ship”. Many white slave own­ers jus­ti­fied rape with the fact that they thought they “owned” the­se wom­en and could “do what­ev­er they want­ed”. Depend­ing on the region con­sid­ered in Lat­in Amer­i­ca, some… Read more »
eve-audrey
@nana i actu­al­ly agreed with your com­ment ^^ and con­cern­ing ancient egypt you’re right but mak­ing peo­ple accept the fact that ancient egyp­tians were black and not white is anoth­er thing and let me tell you not an easy one! it reminds me of the leg­end of the queen of she­ba (eng­lish is not my moth­er tongue so i real­ly don’t know if that’s how you her in eng­lish) proofs of her exis­tence have acc­tu­al­ly been found. ethiopi­ans call her makeda and i strong­ly believe she was from abyssinia (the empire that lat­er became ethiopia) but again you’ll have peo­ple who… Read more »
Nana

Op! Then I apol­o­gize for my brash respon­se haha. I was so con­fused because being “mixed”/miscegenation does not guar­an­tee the traits we com­mon­ly asso­ciate with the mixed iden­ti­ty (light skin, curly hair, light eyes, etc). 

Actu­al­ly part of the rea­son why ear­ly Egyp­tol­o­gists refused to clas­si­fy Egyp­tians as clas­si­cal­ly “Black” was because they didn’t have the fea­tures we com­mon­ly asso­ciate with West African­ness (wide every­thing, dark skin, neot­enized skulls). How­ev­er Egypt’s anti­quat­ed named– Kemet– itself means “Black Land” and lem­me tell you the land ain’t actu­al­ly Onyx Black lmao.

(Can you tell I love this sub­ject)

Any­way I do apol­o­gize and be well!

eve-audrey

@nana my bad i wasn’t respond­ing to you but to silky­naps whostat­ed that entire nations are com­prised pre­dom­i­nate­ly of peo­ple with mixed race asthet­ics includ­ing east africa. i was just cor­rect­ing by say­ing that east african coun­tries are not pre­dom­i­nate­ly made of mixed race peo­ple that’s all. i’m ful­ly aware of the fact that com­mon genet­ic traits were found between chi­ne­se peo­ple and some african peo­ple and that some african peo­ple actu­al­ly have com­mon genes with jews thanks for your infor­ma­tion.

Nana

… Who said East Africans were more mixed than West Africans. Can we stick to what was actu­al­ly said? If you need me to rein­ter­pret my words for you because it wasn’t clear enough I can do that.

Every­thing I said can be attrib­ut­ed to well known anthro­po­log­i­cal facts pro­vid­ed to us by the ded­i­cat­ed sci­en­tists eager to trace the human genome.
If you have a prob­lem with that, I can’t help you.

Google is Your Friend.

http://science.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/14/17315481–600-year-old-chinese-coin-found-in-kenya?lite
http://www.mfa.gov.cn/ce/ceke/eng/sbgx/t204436.htm

I can­not with the igno­rance in the rest of your com­ment.

eve-audrey

here we go again east african coun­tries are not pre­dom­i­nate­ly made of mixed race peo­ple where the hell does that myth come from? as for north africans i don’t know so i won’t make any state­ment. i don’t mean to attack you but as some­one else stat­ed there was a for­eign pres­ence in west african coun­tries too lead­ing to some admix­ture but how do you actu­al­ly know that east africans are more mixed than west africans? we still have a long way to go bust­ing myths and mis­con­cep­tions.

Nana

Oh I should point out I wasn’t dis­agree­ing with you, just adding more facts :D

Nooni

I think she is tak­ing the term 100% black to lit­er­al­ly. When peo­ple say that, what they real­ly mean is their par­ents are not dif­fer­ent races and/or that there is no imme­di­ate non-black ances­try that they are aware of.

Chereace
agreed. I don’t think any black AMERICAN believes they are 100% black lit­er­al­ly. but it’s a shared under­stand­ing that we mean that there has been no recent race mix­ing in our genet­ic make­up. I real­ly thought this post was going to be about some­thing else, more specif­i­cal­ly delv­ing into issues like this:  ” the uplift­ing of Euro­pean stan­dards of beau­ty and the stigma­ti­za­tion of curlier and tex­tured hair com­mon­ly found in the Black com­mu­ni­ty. Con­se­quent­ly, many of us nev­er learned the prop­er care for our hair.” it is like this BECAUSE of our his­to­ry in amer­i­can and BECAUSE of euro­pean colo­nial­ism all… Read more »
Jessica

I total­ly agree Chere­ace.… I thought the arti­cle was a nice way to state the obvi­ous… I mean… That is com­mon knowl­edge that no Black Amer­i­can is 100% black, right?.….right? Lol. I think it would have been much more ben­e­fi­cial to delve more into what this flawed think­ing has to do with our hair and how we care for it. While the actu­al break­down of the per­cent­ages was very inter­est­ing- this arti­cle told me noth­ing that I didn’t know already

Nicole Pennant
Hi Nooni, I under­stand what peo­ple mean when they say that they are 100% black. You are right…most of the time they are refer­ring to their par­ents or no imme­di­ate ances­try that they are aware of. How­ev­er, I think this notion to claim 100% black­ness makes no sense when the evi­dence says oth­er­wise. The qual­i­fier of 100% makes the expres­sion prob­lem­at­ic because try­ing to prove “black­ness” is much more com­pli­cat­ed. In all hon­esty I don’t think peo­ple need to explain how black they are. My argu­ment is about just accept­ing that our black iden­ti­ty is most promi­nent but that our… Read more »
goyta
i’m sure it’s just an expres­sion that sim­ply means that, as nooni said, their par­ents or grand­par­ents or even great grand­par­ents aren’t “oth­er”. in any case, no mat­ter how fac­tu­al­ly incor­rect it may be, we all under­stand what is meant by what is said. it’s the same as when some­one says “i’ve got mixed hair…” whether the per­son mak­ing that state­ment is mixed or not, we all, even if begrudg­ing­ly, get about the same men­tal image con­jured up in our heads of some type 3ish curly, wavy (not black, but not white) curl pat­tern. it’s prob­ly a dumb way to… Read more »
Nooni
Race is not an objec­tive char­ac­ter­is­tic, and the whole con­cept of talk­ing about black and white race etc is inher­ent­ly flawed because ‘race’ does not exist. As such, we often use large­ly flawed ter­mi­nol­o­gy to say what we feel, there­fore using the term 100% black is fine. The under­ly­ing mean­ing is con­veyed. Say­ing I am a black per­son makes as much sense sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly as say­ing I am 100% black, both are sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly incor­rect, but they con­vey a speci­fic mean­ing. Using the term 100% black is fine and per­haps not all of us want to acknowl­edge our past ances­tors equal­ly. I… Read more »
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