Late last night, waiting on the platform for the Q train, a young Black man leaned over and said to me, "Excuse me, I don't mean to keep staring, but I really like your hair."
I said thank you.
"Actually, I love it."
I said I do too.
"Do you encourage your girlfriends to wear their hair natural?"
I said, "I encourage my friends to do whatever it is that makes them feel beautiful and healthy."
He said that was good. Then he said, "Have you heard of MXGM? I think it would be something someone like you would be into."
The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement? Someone like me? Because of my hair?
I asked him, "You think I'd be interested in the organization because of my hair?"
"Well...... yes, because of your hair. You seem really comfortable with your style. You seem very comfortable wearing your hair like that."
I still have my hang-ups. Even girls with those "weak" fros, the kind the wind can misshape, the kind you can still run your fingers through, have said shit to me about my thick, wooly crown. Very rarely, I go back to 8-year old B who wants long thicky wavy hair. Black girls screw up their faces, I sometimes yearn for a new look, but Black men, especially older ones, dig it. When I'm complimented on it, I feel very good. But when someone assumes my identity around it, I think Is every nigga with dreads for the cause? Dre said it, and I echo it a lot. An afro does not a MXGM member make. Nor does it make me militant, New Afrikan, righteous, a queen, or a souljah. All that is based on thought and philosophies. I am comfortable in my hair because it's what I was given and because I surrounded myself with images that reaffirmed certain ideas of beauty.
He and I talked the entire train ride and to be perfectly honest, we share many of the same sentiments and interests, even know a handful of the same people. But being seen as some kind of black girl, when really I'm just me, dancing and writing, and unwilling to spend more than 5 minutes on my hair, does make me uncomfortable.