Thursday, September 9, 2010


If you had to choose a song to describe you and/or your culture, which would you choose?

This was an assignment for our human development class today. We had to choose a song (and write the lyrics) to describe us, our culture, or are cohort. During class we used youtube or a CD to play the song while the class read along. Then we described how/why the song described us. It was so interesting. I learned so much about my classmates. We shed tears, we laughed and we were mesmerized.

Below are my song and my "Who Am I" statement. It's super looong....but all my posts are long so you should be used to it by now! I've included the video I played in class as well. I really hope you enjoy the video, the lyrics and what it means to me.
India.Arie featuring Akon - "I Am Not My Hair"


See I can kinda recall
Little ways back small tryin' to bawl
Always been black and my hair I tried it all
I even went flat, had a gumdee curly top and all the crap, now
Tryin' to be appreciated
Nappy headed brothers never had no ladies
Then I hit by the barber shop real quick
Had em give me little twist and it drove them crazy
And then I couldn't get no job
No corporate wouldn't hire no dreadlocks
Then I thought about my dogs on the block
Kinda understand why they chose a stealin' rock
Was it the hair that got me this far? (uh-huh)
All these girls these cribs these cars (uh-huh)
Hate to say it but it seem so flawed
Cause success didn't come 'till i cut it all off (uh-huh)

[India Arie]
Little girl with the press and curl
Age eight I got a Jheri curl
Thirteen then I got a relaxer
I was a source of so much laughter
Fifteen when it all broke off
Eighteen and then I went all natural
February two thousand and two I
Went and did what I had to do
Cause it was time to change my life
To become the women that I am inside
Ninety-seven dreadlocks all gone
Looked in the mirror for the first time and saw that

I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am not your ex-pec-tations no no
I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am a soul that lives within

[India Arie]
Good hair means curls and waves
Bad hair means you look like a slave
At the turn of the century
It's time for us to redefine who we be
You can shave it off like a South African beauty
Or get in on lock like Bob Marley
You can rock it straight like Oprah Winfrey
If its not what's on your head
It's what's underneath and say


[India Arie]
Does the way I wear my hair make me a better person?
Does the way I wear my hair make me a better friend? nooo...
(Whoa, whoa, whoa)
Does the way I wear my hair determine my integrity?
(Whoa, whoa, whoa)
I am expressing my creativity...

[India Arie]
Breast cancer and chemotherapy
Took away her crown and glory
She promised God if she was to survive
She would enjoy everyday of her life ooh...
On national television
Her diamond eyes are sparkling
Bald headed like a full moon shining
Singing out to the whole wide world like



I love my hair.

I can wear it short, long, straight, wavy, in bantu-knots, curly, as an afro, in a ponytail, in cornrows, in braids, in a braided ponytail, in afro puffs, in a ponytail afro puff, under a wig, fingercoils, in extensions, in plaits, in extension plaits, twist-outs, braid-outs, flat twist-outs, bantu-knot twist out, bantu-knot braid-out, teeny weeny afro, chunky afro, chunky twist-out, curly afro…and that’s not even the end of the list!

I love all the creative styles in which I can wear it. I love using my hair as an expression of my feelings. I love washing my hair, styling my hair and learning my hair’s (sometimes fickle) personality.

My hair is an extension of me, but it is not me. I recently cut off my long tresses in an attempt to rid my hair, and my body, of the chemical relaxers used to straighten my hair for most of my life. I want to wear my natural, afro-textured hair. I enjoy the flexibility of it, but mostly, I love creative, funky hair.

I love this song, I Am Not My Hair, by India.Arie. I’m very attuned to hair and the power it has over us, especially as I watch my aunt battle breast cancer. In a way, the lyrics to this song represent my ‘coming of age’ story about my hair. It describes perfectly the decades-long internal and external battle I went through before deciding to eliminate relaxers from my life. This song describes the judgments and perceptions attached to natural black hair. It reveals the positive and negative reactions of others, the personal experiences that accompany wearing various natural hairstyles, and the overall importance prescribed to hair, particularly for women.

But ultimately, with straight hair, curly-afro hair or no hair, I am always me.

I am not my hair.

I am not this skin.

I am always the soul that lives within.

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