Black Styles

 By Nicosia Smith

For me, there is something exhilarating, about being natural without apologies. And for that matter, the confidence to share that creative experience with your community and the world.

There is something wonderful when we can be unique – and there is a joy when I see the celebration of black styles. Living in Brooklyn, you see a lot of creativity, reflecting what is happening in our society.

Recently, I have seen somewhat of a resurgence of natural black hairstyles, be it, plaits or braids, cornrows or afros.
Hair weaving and styling natural hair, practiced for centuries across continents, is widely known and practice among black families. I always take second looks, when I see afro-centric dressing and styles. Because it is different and those often wearing it, to me, stand out.
And I love to see it.
Tennis Superstar Serena Williams recently sported a cornrow braids hairstyle at the May 19 wedding of the royal highnesses of Duke and Duchess of Sussex Prince Harry and American Actress Meghan Markle, at St. George’s Chapel Windsor Castle, near London.
It was quite refreshing to see Williams in her cornrow braids at this very high fashion wedding; and Markle, being the first bi-racial woman to marry into the British royal family. She stood out in a crowd that was so much unlike her, in her very long plaited braids.
I began to think back to the 1960s and 1970s, when there was a push for more black styles. And indeed a welcomed embrace from black society of that particular style. Notably, communities blending in, black designs and culture into their everyday lives. Of course there was a strong political tone to that era, with the ‘Black Power’ movement quite on its way at the time.
Last month at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture there was a reflection of that time with a large collection of periodicals, newsletters, pictures and pamphlets about the black struggle and style of the ‘60s and ‘70s. What I particularly like with the exhibit was the pride shown by those wearing ‘black’ themed styles and its use, at the time, to create economic vitality within the community.
It was also used to push for the creation of jobs from within the community, through its unique creativity. It is a nod to a period that explored a style that was unique and stood out. At the time this was quite radical, because it was shifting the very foundation of what beautiful is and promoting ‘love’ for that beauty.
So here is to black styles, dashiki and all.
While today, there are radical black designs, I must say it is on a much smaller level. In my opinion, we have moved, it seems, back from that black collective cultural push from the 1960’s and 1970’s to a more personalized approach.

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