Natural black hair, afros and dreadlocks have been historically stigmatised – much as dark skin is today – and there was a time when Black people applied all sorts of concoctions to straighten their hair.
In fact the first African-American millionaire, Madame C.J. Walker, made her fortune selling hair straightening products to black people.
But today, many black people take pride in their natural hair and refuse to straighten it.
This was not achieved by banning relaxers and other chemical hair straightening concoctions.
Rather, it was political action that changed black people’s ideas about black hair.
Stokely Carmichael, Angela Davis, Steve Biko and Patrice Lumumba are among those who rallied against self-hate and spread a message of African pride.
Natural hair came to be associated with freedom and justice.
The problem with bleaching bans is that they attempt to treat the physiological symptoms of the bleaching syndrome without addressing the sociological causes and the psychological colour complex that is at its root.
The bleaching syndrome will only come to an end when Africans and all black people learn to love their skin, just as they have learned to love their hair.
Only then will bleaching creams become obsolete.
By Ronald Hall. This article was first published by The Conversation