Monday, March 31, 2014



I was at a friend’s home a few months ago. She was recuperating from surgery and I was helping her around the house. Her husband came in as I was getting ready to leave and during the day, at some point I had taken off my headwraap because I was doing something that was kind of messy and made my head sweat. I realized abruptly that I didn’t have it on. The husband’s response was. “What difference does it make? I already saw your head.” I was confused at his statement. Then I realized he didn’t know who and what I am. He thought I was a Mooz-lum. SMH. I explained it to him why I wore the wrap but he started glazing over. What I think he understood from subsequent conversations with his wife is not all Earths wrap their heads like I do mine.

I am the type of Earth that wraps my head. At all times. It may not be a 100% full on head wrap but there is something on my head even if it’s a Pentecostal doily. I do this for many reasons… My NGE affiliation and mostly because I am a Black woman who is descended from slaves.

As a Black person living in this wilderness we don’t have a lot that we can point to as our own Culture-wise. I am a descendant of former slaves. My great grandparents were former slaves (yeah it’s that close). Slavery erased our African Culture and replaced it with what the devil intended to be a secondary sub standard Culture. But there are a few things that some of us hold on to like… soul food, declaring who is family, watchnight services (if I was going to go to a church for fun it would be for watchnight), Juneteenth, broom jumping and headwraps.

Some of y’all may be unaware of the FACT that most slaves were not allowed to wear their heads uncovered. Why? I have no idea. That’s not written in the books. Thatrule applied to women and men. Men wore hats/turbans and women kerchiefs. If they got some extra unneeded fabric they would create tignons. Slave woman might have readily accepted this practice because is resonated with them because similar practices happened in Africa. IDK. I do know my grandmother who was born in 1908 would not leave the house without something on her head. And she wasn’t Earth.

Here is a PBS excerpt from this site…

Originally the head-wrap, or turban, was worn by both enslaved men and women. In time, however, it became almost exclusively a female accessory. In the photograph above, the women wear head-wraps, while the men wear hats.

For their white European masters, the slaves' head-wraps were signs of poverty and subordination. Accounts of clothing distribution show that masters sometimes allotted extra handkerchiefs to their female slaves, ostensibly to be used as head coverings. In fact, in certain areas of the South, legislation appeared that required black women to wear their hair bound up in this manner.

The head-wrap, however, was more than a badge of enslavement imposed on female slaves by their owners. Embellishment of the head and hair was a central component of dress in various parts of Africa, particularly in West Africa. From the time European fabrics were made available to them, African women wore head-wraps similar to those worn by their enslaved counterparts in America. For these women, the wrap, which varied in form from region to region, signified communal identity. At the same time, the particular appearance of an individual head-wrap was an expression of personal identity.

In America, the head-wrap was a utilitarian item, which kept the slave's hair protected from the elements in which she worked and helped to curb the spread of lice. Yet, as in Africa, the head-wrap also created community -- as an item shared by female slaves -- and individuality, as a thing unique to the wearer. Cassandra Stancil, enslaved in her youth, insisted that she never asked another woman how to tie her head-scarf. "I always figured I could do it," she said, "I could try and experiment and if not get that, get something that I liked."

The head-wrap was an object of oppression from one vantage point. But from the other, the perspective of the slave community, it was a vehicle of empowerment and a memento of freedom.”

Need more references? Read these.

I’m funny about my wrap too. It’s a wrap or a tignon. It is NOT a “head rag” or a rag of any sort. When someone does say that, they get told off, possibly cursed out. It always kills he how folks want to help you liberate yourself as if you don’t know you have choices. I make a daily conscious choice to express myself through wrapping. I encourage your questions. But not your assumptions.

When I was planning my wedding, a Muslim friend of mine asked me what the significance of the broom jumping ceremony was; she’d never heard of it. Once I explained it to her, she asked me why I was recreating something so painful. I explained that I as a descendant of slaves have absolutely NOTHING to be ashamed of. My people did nothing wrong. I am proud to be descended from a surviving, striving, remarkable, ingenious people. We bring the flavor to the otherwise dry white toast of this wilderness. And I will forever cling to traditions that WE brought and developed in this country.