I read an article in this month's Ebony about the use of products sourced from Korea. Although I was aware of this, what I did not realise was that many of the shops that supply Black haircare products in the States are also Korean-owned. These are the little neighbourhood shops selling in Black communities.
The article cited a video about this - I list several YouTube videos below. Most of them were made by Aron Ranen, a white man. I know Spike Lee dealth with this issue of Korean-owned shops in "Do the Right Thing", and also dealt with the self-hatred issue in "School Daze".
In the UK, this was certainly a problem in the past. Many of the shops were owned by Asian business people (from Bangladesh, Pakistan or East Africa). One of the videos, subtitled "Report from London", states that this is still an issue. However, in my experience, many of these shops are African-owned.
Asian grocers still often supply the food products we enjoy, such as sweet potatoes, plaintains, mangoes and other tropical fruits.
I am wondering (just wondering, folks) whether it would be in our best interests to partner with Asian businesses in order to gain the opportunity to supply people in our own communities. This could potentially be a step towards economic self-sufficiency.
The article quoted Ranen as saying that African Americans should go to Korea to source the hair themselves, rather than buying through a third party.
This is a sound business principle - know your suppliers and deal with them directly.
Of course, the article did not address the basic problem of why African and African Diasporic women feel the need to buy hair from Korean people to disguise the natural texture of their hair. And why we are still allowing European sensibilities to define our concepts of beauty.
The way I see it, this is part of the legacy of slavery - what is sometimes called "Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome".
We need to learn to love ourselves, inside and out. We need to love ourselves enough that we are willing to buy from Black businesses - to prosper those who look like us and with whom we share a common cultural identity and heritage. That way, our Black businesses and communities will thrive, for the benefit of everyone.
To read more about Black haircare and the need for self-love, read "What They Don't Want Us to Know". http://www.lulu.com/content/2571278
Aron Ramnn’s Black Haircare Documentary Part One
Black Hair Documentary Part Four
Aron Ranen's Black Hair Documentary- Report from London
"My Nappy ROOTS" Award winning documentary on Black hair