The hair debate must end


A central pillar of the colonial project was the construction of the colonial subject. An exercise which necessarily required the absolute objectifiction of the native, even to herself, that she was no more than what was seen through her Master’s eyes.

The continued question of the native’s hair is one such far-reaching implication of the erstwhile colonial project. One might even argue that the question of the natvie’s hair is a tool in the latest iteration of the colonial project: the colonisation of the body. Far more efficient, sustainable, profitable and easy to elide detection, this one, now that we have their land.

In this thoughtful, strident piece on the unyielding objectification and colonisation of the Black womyn’s body, her hair being one site, Athambile Masola unpacks some of the nervous conditions it embeds in their psyches. She rightly names patriarchy and whiteness as the collusive forces behind this assault on the Black womyn’s body. She shames their appropriation by the subjects of their gaze to the detriment of the body with Black tits’ choice to do what it will with itself. Because it wants to. Because it can. Because it doesn’t pay rent for that right.

“[T]he hair debate must come to an end. It’s banal and redundant. Talking about black women’s hair needs to stop being a question of national importance. Our hair is not all of who we are. Why have I never seen a documentary about white women and their hair? Because it’s not important and white women are not placed in a situation where they are disembodied and their hair becomes a symbol of who they are as individuals.” – Athambile Masola in The hair debate must end.

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