You Got Good Hair: A Sermon by the Rev. Robert Biekman
Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. – Matthew 10:28-30
For a few minutes, permit me to share from subject, “You Got Good Hair!”
Introduction – Legislating “Good Hair”
On just this past Friday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill into law aimed at preventing hair discrimination in schools. Senate Bill 817 was proposed by a Black state lawmaker earlier this year seeking to bar Illinois schools from issuing rules pertaining to hairstyles.
“For so many people, how you dress and how you look is an expression of who you are,” Pritzker said. “For others, the choice is as simple as deciding what makes them the most comfortable and confident in their own skin. That should be the beginning and the end of the conversation. But for decades Black people have too often had their natural and protective hairstyles weaponized against them.”
State Sen. Mike Simmons, who wears his hair in free form dreadlocks, said he remembers what it felt like to be embarrassed at school because of his hair. The legislation, he says, will address hairstyle discrimination. The bill says schools “will not prohibit hairstyles historically associated with race, ethnicity, or hair texture, including, but not limited to, protective hairstyles such as braids, locks, and twists.”
The Chicago Democrat said he was also responding to news reports that a 4-year-old Black student was told to take out his braids due to his Chicago school’s dress code. That Chicago school is a primarily African American school that while it boasts a 100% graduation rate still holds its students to a standard of “good” as defined by people outside of the African community.
Now I don’t know About YOU but I am flummoxed, flabbergasted and downright confused that in 2021 we have to legislate what Is “good hair.”
Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from work due to their hair.
“I have to change my hair from its natural state to fit in at the office.”
Black women are 80% more likely than white women to agree with this statement.
You Got Good Hair
But this morning I want you to know, “You Got Good Hair.” Before the law was written to say it, I need you to know you are fearfully and wonderfully created.
In Matthew 10:30 & 31 Jesus said, “And even the hairs of your head are all counted.” So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. God not only loves you – God values you.
You see…beyond creating a cosmetic aesthetic, hair possesses value.
This is probably because our hair affects the way we look and how we feel about our self. That is why in most, if not all, parts of the world, shops such as beauty parlors, barber shops and the like have been established to cater to the “pressing needs” (no pun intended) and wants of everyone.
For African Americans, Black folk hair is important! It is important because so often we have been told that our hair does not meet an ambiguous standard of beauty created by someone who does not look like us! Hair is important!
When it comes to Black hair,
we braid it, blow it, bob it and bang it.
We straighten, weave it, press it, part it and plat it.
Curl it, comb it, roll it, relax it, lock it.
We tweeze it…tease it, twist it, twirl it,
wave it, weave it and wash it!
And that’s just the beginning!
But beyond the cosmetic, like everything else in the world, our hair exists for a greater purpose. Hair serves as one of our many lines of physical defense. The short hairs found around the eyes, ears, nose, and eyebrows serve as our protection. The ones around the eyes, ears, and nose prevent foreign matter, such as dust, from entering the body. The eyebrow reduces the amount of light that enters our eyes. I got some good hair!
Hair also assists in touch. Therefore, all skin surfaces possess hair, fine though they may be, except in thick areas such as the palms of the hand and soles of the feet.
Hair can also serve the purpose of keeping us warm. When we feel cold our hair becomes erect and it creates extra insulation that makes our temperature rise a bit higher than our surroundings. It also traps air next to our body, thus helping in the reduction of heat loss. There is also an economic value to the multi-billion-dollar beauty supply industry. But that’s another sermon for another day!
God Values You!
Growing up we used to talk about who had good and bad hair. At this point in my life any hair is good hair! Now whether you have long and flowing locks and tresses or a few hairs spread carefully over your head like violin strings or you as bald as a billiard ball (and no one is completely bald). Jesus says, “…even the hairs of your head are all counted [by God].”
These words spoken by Jesus are directed to his new followers who he was sending out on a dangerous mission. How many today can confess that life can be a dangerous mission. Going to work can be a dangerous mission…
Going to school can be a dangerous mission…
I believe Jesus knew his followers…
I believe Jesus knew we would face hardship, persecution, oppression (from inside and outside) and yes even death. So, today Jesus is reminding his followers, “Do not fear those who the body kill [even with arbitrary or ambiguous standards of beauty] but cannot kill the soul…even the hairs of your head are all counted by God…”
There are many ways to kill someone. You can kill a body with words by saying you don’t measure up – you are not good enough – you don’t meet “the standard.” You can kill a person by saying they don’t measure. This is one of the many ways oppressors keep the oppressed in check. What is worse is when the oppressed adopt the oppressor’s standard as the norm. But take courage, there is Good News today, Jesus says, “…even the hairs of your head are all counted (by God).”
Now I don’t know about anybody here today but most folk don’t let just anybody get a hold of their hair…
you just don’t let folk experiment with your hair.
Why? Because you don’t trust everybody with your hair, not everybody knows your growth pattern…not just anybody knows those hard to manage places in your head… You see your guests you keep in the front room, but you only let your close friends in your kitchen! But a visit to your local barber, hairstylist or cosmetologist is a transcendent experience. The conversations that people have while your scalp is massaged, your hair is washed and is set. They don’t call it relaxer for nothing!
I like movies and I remember a scene in the film the Color Purple, the character Shug Avery sings a song called “Miss Cellie’s Blues.” She says, she named in that because Miss Celie “she scratched it out of my head when, I was ailing.”
God Cares About You!
There is a level of intimacy one shares with the person who does their hair.
There is more Good News today!
Jesus says, “that the very hairs on your head are numbered by God.”
This statement is more than hyperbole.
It is saying that God knows you – God created you – God cares about you. Imagine How much time it takes to Count Hairs!
There are approximately 100,000 hairs on the human head! That means that God has counted every head on your head.
If God cares so much about our individual hairs, then God cares about the things that are more important than hairs.
What we can draw from this word today is that if God cares so much about our individual hairs, how much more does God care about our circumstances and situations!
Jesus is saying, regarding what you have, God has counted it.
You are important to me.
CLAIM YOUR CREATED GOODNESS!
Beyond hair – Exercise the Agency God has Given to You!
This morning, the Invitation is a call to action. I invite you to go to the CROWN Act Website. The Official Campaign of The CROWN Act, led by the CROWN Coalition, founded by Dove, National Urban League, Color of Change, and Western Center on Law & Poverty.
The CROWN Act, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” is a law that prohibits race-based hair discrimination, which is the denial of employment and educational opportunities because of hair texture or protective hairstyles including braids, locs, twists or bantu knots.
I invite you to live out the Good News into action and sign the petition to create laws to stop hair discrimination.