I distinctly remember the first time I heard “I Am Not My Hair.”
I was in Chicago with my husband and my sister-in-law, driving the minivan to the mall the day after Thanksgiving (Wow, I can’t believe this year has flown by so quickly!). Steve was flipping stations, trying to find something good. Can I just tell you guys, the radio stations in Chicago are so much better than what we’ve got here in Miami! At least in Chicago there’s real diversity – you’re likely to hear classic soul, neo-soul, old school rap, alternative rock that isn’t the same ten Nirvana/Pearl Jam songs that they always play on the “alternative” station… I had to quit the radio in Miami because it got too monotonous for me. I digress.
Anyways, Steve was flipping stations and I heard a husky female voice sing “thirteen when I got a relaxer, I was the source of so much laughter.” “Waaait!” I said. I wanted to hear more. I was instantly enthralled that someone, anyone would make a song about the complicated relationship black women have with their hair. Plus, it had a decent beat and I was totally feeling it (I mean, a song by a woman getting radio airplay that isn’t about love, dancing, or being sexy? That’s practically unheard of nowadays). At the end of the song, the DJ announced that it was India.Arie’s new one.
Ah, India. I’ve loved her since “Video.” She’s always dared to be different. I can’t help but respect that. (For those of you who don’t think India is hip-hop enough, peep this remix. I love the original, but I would bump this in my car.)
I had no idea there was a remix of “I Am Not My Hair” featuring Akon until I saw the video. Which I love. I read this explanation for the song on her website: “As a Black American woman, a lot of your integrity is dictated by how you wear your hair,â€ she explains. â€œThe concept for the song was sparked when I decided to cut my locks, and all the different attitudes people had about it. This is my hair â€“ and itâ€™s my life. Iâ€™ll choose how I express myself.” Preach on, sista!
That quote really made me think about how much black women obsess about their hair, how much we spend trying to rectify our hair issues, how the ultimate goal is length by any means necessary. I’ll admit, when I first saw the Kelis video for Bossy, I was mad. How dare she hack off those beautiful curls that I would kill to have? But her journey is different, and so is India’s. I gotta respect that.
India takes it a step further – she’s stayed natural and just shaved the whole thing off. She’s rocking less than a TWA here, singing “Love’s In Need Of Love Today” as a dedication to her mom. And she’s working it to the max, with fabulous earrings and subtle makeup. How freeing is THAT?
And in her video, she proves that she’s fly under any circumstance. Check my girl out.
This song is basically the Afrobella anthem. Check out my very first post for evidence. Basically do YOU, be who you want to be, and don’t transform yourself into who the world expects you to be. Be beautiful under your own conditions. If you can’t get behind that, then this isn’t the website for you.
Because breast cancer has affected both of their lives, these two fierce singers recorded the song for Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy, a recently released Lifetime movie that I loved. Sarah Chalke (who plays Dr. Elliott Reid on one of my favorite TV shows, Scrubs, which is written by one of my favorite writers, Angela Nissel) did a fantastic job, and Patti LaBelle (another beautifully aging afrobella!) makes a surprise cameo as a cancer patient.
Even though breast cancer awareness month is now over, you can catch the flick in reruns on Lifetime – I think it’ll be on again this Sunday at 5. Check your local listings. You can also buy the single on iTunes to support breast cancer awareness. Listen to it first on her MySpace.
India.Arie is not only beautiful and amazingly talented, she’s using her skills towards positive ends. Gotta love that. She embodies the essence of afrobella. Someday I hope to be able to tell her that in person.
Congratulations, India! You’re Afrobella of the Week!