Tag: heritage

Natural hair – a fashion statement, a phase, a normality?


“Fight for your rights!” – a slogan that the black people (and other minority groups) wherever they reside in the world can relate to. It seems like controversy is just part of black culture?

Even hair.

Known as the crowning glory for women and men, hair is also wrapped up into this notion called beauty – which the majority of us are intrigued by. Consciously or sub-consciously.  However, like most things associated with ‘beauty’ the emphasis is usually disproportionately projected onto women.

Black people (women more than men) seem to have a love hate relationship with Afro hair; a subject which provokes fascination (from others) and discussion.

Afro hair has a chequered history, a controversial present and unwritten future. Who knows if we’ll be having the same conversation in 5 years time?

At one point Afro hair was seen as the epitome of black identity and defying white oppression.

Afro hair is making a comeback; most recently displayed on high fashion Western catwalks and photo shoots. Last year W Magazine’s spread, featuring models with natural hair caused waves on social media.

w mag collage
W magazine

In recent years, natural Afro hair has been stretched, pulled and debated more openly. Some may argue that it’s becoming more ‘acceptable’ now.

natural hair in fashion, natural hair in fashion
Fashion bible: W Magazine – Fashion shoot

 

In south/Latin American countries where being of African descent is usually something to be ashamed of and hidden, people are starting to embrace their African heritage. In another bold fashion step, Jourdan Dunn is on the February issue of Vogue Brasil (with an Afro wig); a country who has struggled to accept her African heritage and subscribed to European beauty standards for decades, despite reportedly having the second largest black population in the world.

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Despite the preference for straight hair among most races over the years, curly/afro hair is met with fascination, curiosity, approval and disdain. In the video below, un-ruly.com spoke to women about how they feel when asked the question many naturals dread, “can I touch your hair?”. This video was inspired by Saartjie Baartman, an African woman who was displayed across Britain by Hendrik Cezar between 1810 and 1814, because she looked ‘different’ (to the Europeans who displayed her, like an artifact in a museum).

Whether its here today or gone tomorrow, it seems natural hair still ignites controversy. We can’t forget when pop singer Zendaya Coleman was accused of “probably smelling like weed”, by a TV presenter when she wore a dreadlock hairstyle to last years Oscars. 

Zendaya hair, Zendaya dreadlocks

Either way, natural hair is here to stay; and there are afro naturals all over the world who are embracing their natural hair. To them this is more than a fashion statement, its a normality!

Courtesy of ‘Black Girl with Long Hair’…Naturals living in the Caribbean/USA…

natural hair in the caribbean

….living in Europe

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….living in Africa / USA

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Brixton protest: The revolution roars on


Brixton protest! The 25th April 2015 was a pleasant, sunny Saturday afternoon, with a familiar inner city backdrop of red double decker buses and high street chain stores. Brixton High Street was the stage and Reclaim Brixton protest, was the name. After weeks of warning in local press, the people took to the streets in planned protest. Angry at various aspects of gentrification, including selling of social housing land to private developers and rising rents for local independent business as demand for retail space in the area increases, the protesters made their presence known!

Reclaim Brixton
Sitting pretty on the Victoria Line.

Brixton protest

As I walked between two prominent landmarks, Lambeth Town Hall and McDonalds, with a couple of shopping bags in my hand, I saw the mass crowd at the junction, literally stopping traffic by walking in the middle of the road. Chanting, waving banners and blasting ‘old skool’ garage music from a ghetto blaster, they swayed along in solidarity, upset about the demise of Brixton’s heritage and culture. For a protest located in what I thought was a majority minority area; from the slide lines I noticed the sparse sprinkling of ethnic groups within the crowd.

What do you think about that?

Reclaim Brixton protest

Unofficially known as the black capital of the UK, some of Brixton’s older residents who have been allowed to come since the 1940’s have taken advantage of how much a property in Brixton can sell for and cashed in by moving out, with some emigrating back to their home countries. As usual there are always those who are left behind, the children of these immigrants and generations of white families who have also lived in the area for many years.

Brixton gentrification

Brixton anti-gentrification protest

There has always been a fight for social housing (as in other areas of London), but now that Lambeth council is apparently selling land to private developers, there is less social housing to go around and those in the middle are being squeezed out. These ‘middle men/women/families’ have incomes which are too high for them to be entitled to social housing, but too low for them to afford renting privately or get a mortgage. Time (and money) waits for no man; as the big chains such as Starbucks, Wahaca and Costa move in (and pay high rents), landlords see pound signs and of course what to increase rents for existing businesses (apparently triple rent increases are due to be enforced). If you are a global company such as Starbucks, paying high price for a place on one of London’s ‘up and coming’ high streets isn’t going to cripple you, but if you are an independent business it could push you to the brink of extinction.

“Change is the only constant in life” and whether we like it or not, Brixton is moving in a different direction. Over £250 million is to be invested in Brixton ‘Town Centre’ including, ‘Pop Brixton’ a new community campus for small local businesses and community organisations. With a similar blueprint to Boxpark in Shoreditch, Pop Brixton will be created from low-cost, shipping containers, and there have been promises that the rents will be ‘affordable’. Pop Brixton will have its grand opening on the 22nd May 2015.

Pop Brixton
Image is everything: Pop Brixton – Picture: Carl Turner Architects.

I’m sure every Brixton resident wants to see the area improve but not at the expense of the African-Caribbean culture and history, which has made Brixton one of the most famous areas in London.

Can gentrification and the African-Caribbean culture co-exist?

What this space!

Future Brixton
The reality is real: Pop Brixton – Picture: Carl Turner Architects.

Remember the good old days? Brixton Market 1961

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