At a young age, Ms. India Arie taught me my kinky textured hair was worthy of love and that media representations would not define me by the naps I was blessed with.
— Naomi

“I am not my hair, I am not this skin, I am the soul that lives within.” When I was younger I memorized those words like they would breathe freedom into my lungs. And they did. Listening to India Arie’s words was not only an exercise in catharsis, but also one in survival. In a society that denies black women the right to simply live – to be, without having to break their backs to prove themselves as good enough, black enough, smart enough, those words represented the beginning of an inside-outside revolution I would engage in over and over again.  And yet it took me some time to truly understand that my hair – kinky or textured – did not define my character. It took me some time to claim my scalp as a place for learning and living, rather than a place to only engage in an identity politics, that often refuses to recognize my freedom, black women’s freedom to live - to truly be.

Words by Mumbi Kanyogo

Yemi Kolawole