The other day our dear friend Lisa told Rocks Off a story that really brought emotion and life to Houston R&B artist David Sha's anthem, "Her Hair," a romantic cry for African-American women to wear their hair as God intended -- natural.
The story goes that when Lisa saw Mary Lou Retton win the all-around gymnastics gold medal in 1984, like many young girls at that time, she wanted her hair to resemble the feathered-style, pixie haircut Retton rocked.
It wasn't a good idea because Lisa didn't have what many might consider "good hair." Lisa's was big, puffy, dark and tightly curled. But after much prodding by Lisa, her mother finally complied to cut her beautiful locks and some poor soul in a Miami hair salon tried to sculpt the impossible.
Let's just say it didn't work out well for Lisa. She never looked like Mary Lou Retton.
There were many moments throughout Lisa's life when she battled long and hard with her hair and her identity. She did everything to have beautiful, flowing straight hair, just like in the Pantene commercials. She tried to change her hair's DNA with product and sheer will, but she failed.
As an adult, Lisa and everyone who encounters her, including Rocks Off, finds beauty in the part of her that she fought so long. It's her trademark. It's the part of her that takes people's breath away when they see Lisa. Because it's "Her Hair."
And that essentially is what David Sha wants women to know much earlier. That their hair is good...as is.
Ironically, after she duplicated Retton's feat 28 years later, women's gymnastics all-around champion Gabby Douglas found her hair being scrutinized versus longed for.
Consistency at least: Decades later, it is still "much ado about a hairdo."
Rocks Off: David, your latest video no doubt makes a cultural statement about the ever-growing movement towards natural hair. Why did you choose to hone in on this subject matter? Was it an event or something you're passionate about?
David Sha: Very passionate about it. I'm what I like to call unapologetically African. I feel that our root culture is not on display enough. The Barbie look is shoved down our throats on a daily basis. We have to be just as adamant about expressing our culture because there has been such a blatant effort to suppress it.
RO: How did you feel about Chris Rock's Good Hair documentary?
DS: I dug it. He showed us exactly how lucrative the hair business is, how dangerous the chemicals are to the queen's body, and how antiquated/idiotic the "good hair" concept is. I tend to reference it when speaking to young ladies about the dangers of chemically altering their hair without getting too deep.
RO: Comedian Paul Mooney once said, "If your hair is relaxed, white people are relaxed. If your hair is nappy, white people aren't happy." Maybe he was half-joking. Maybe not. But do you think there's truth to that in the sense that non-blacks may be comfortable with black women whose hair more resembles theirs?
DS: He wasn't joking. It was only funny because he's a comedian and he's paid handsomely to make people laugh. There's absolute truth to it, and it's not just centered around the "sistas." I don't have enough space in this interview to fully explain my stance on this issue, but I definitely believe that this system is more comfortable with the conforming, nonthreatening look.
I've been told on more than one occasion that my facial hair or afro, braids and twists were too "ethnic" for corporate America. I stopped supporting Hooters, because I was told by a black waitress that worked there that they make all of their black waitresses wear the straight hair look or they can't work there.
RO: The number of black women who say they do not use products to chemically relax or straighten their hair jumped to 36 percent in 2011, up from 26 percent in 2010, according to a report by Mintel, a consumer spending and market research firm. Sales of relaxer kits dropped by 17 percent between 2006 and 2011. Do you think this is a trend or a more permanent progression back to roots?
DS: A little bit of both. Some people are just fad followers and want to go natural because they think it's cute. Some are coming to the realization that we as a people have been lied to for centuries about our heritage and are starting to embrace the beauty that the most high placed in our genetics.
Others don't care about the cultural aspects or the aesthetics. They know that the chemicals are causing all sorts health issues and it just isn't worth it. Dig?
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RO: Like a grave.