0005 - SUPERHERO

Last year, walking through any normal London street, you’d see black men high-topped and bouncing through the city. Music and celebrity culture leaned towards the preservation of the Afro, but in a more modern light. The “short back and sides” became a staple in all barbershops and teenage black boys would, for a first, raid beauty shops marketed at black women looking for the cheapest twist-sponge available. It was a season for dyed hair and long hair and just hair in general; men were reclaiming their blackness, and blackness benefitted black men.

Today the movement has developed further in the direction of blackness, especially towards Black-American culture. Waves has made a resurgence in East London and those same towering black boys are smoother than ever with wet hair waves neatly preserved under the first black superhero cape, the du-rag.

It really does feel like a Renaissance for diaspora blacks in London, made more evident as summer begins to shine its glory over our brown skin, and showcase our beauty in a way no other ethnic group can relate to. And we’ve returned to a trend that nobody can copy or feed on because it is so inherently black.

The do-rag, or du-rag, a synthetic or silk cornrows-preserver, wave-loader, and hair-protectant shines atop the heads of Jamaicans and West Africans, Caribbean and Continental. It’s a symbol. It represents blackness in its full, you don’t know what’s cooking under that silky rag. We move different when we have something to hide that’s boldly on display. It’s not a hoodie (a trope that has been weaponised against black boys) a garment that somehow warranted stop-and-searches and the modern oppression, but it serves the same purpose. Police can’t stop and search you whilst your wearing a do-rag or suspect you for anything because your face isn’t covered; just your head from crown to nape.

They wish they could stop us, secretly wanting to wearing our caped crowns too.
It’s one of those things that are obviously preserved for a specific group of people and thats what makes it so attractive; several celebrities have tried to acclimatise du-rags into their wardrobe as a fashion statement, but end up just straight reaching. It has a declaratory nature to it that can’t be appropriated.

For years black men have been marketed to as beings with stiff creative tethers and siphoned into the unassuming buzz cut category with the oppressive attached adjectives: professional, sensible etc. There was no other option; high tops rang dated to many ears and waves were not really anything. You either scraped your child’s head bald for the summer or left a scrap of hair at the top for warmth during colder months.

There’s nothing bad to be said for low and short hairstyles but it’s refreshing to see black men adopt their own nature and re-revive it. To see a variety of low and long styles that each carry historical premise and a unique look: locs, cornrows, braids, bald heads, high tops, waves, and more.

       
 

 




So yes, London has scheduled its own Renaissance and black men are hosting the party. Reclaiming their creativity in many ways.

Du-rag, we salute you.

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