Cornrows.co.uk began as a section of my website, which was hosted on a free webpage service at Anzwers.org. I began writing about African hairstyles in 1996, and by 2000 or so, when I got my own domain, it was still a part of my personal site until the community got too big and specific for that. Then it became a section of ModernTraditional.com, a site dedicated to reviving interest in traditional art, fashion, and customs, with a modern practicality and edge. I was already teaching an online course in spiritual counseling at UniversalClass.com, so I started an online course in African hairstyling too.
When it seemed the logical next step, I finally registered cornrows.co.uk and cornrows.us and created a specific site. The main question I’m asked by fellow professionals is: Why in the H@$#!& did you put instructions for cornrows on the net for FREE???
It is simply because some things belong to an individual, but some things belong to the people. Braiding is a traditional art, and I see no reason why something I would just as easily instruct a friend in at home for free, should be kept from the public. If someone has the interest and patience to learn it, they should have the information.
Living in a country where braiding fell out of favor long ago, because of over-westernization, I can see the major difference between people who feel it is normal, and people who don’t. People who feel that it’s normal, like in the U.S. and Africa, understand the work involved with it. They appreciate it because they know someone who braids, and have seen them do it. So when they step into a salon, and the artist tells them the price, they know whether or not it’s fair, and don’t complain if it is.
Where people don’t know what it takes, they don’t appreciate it as much. The scale price for hairdos here in Israel is about half or less of what it is in the U.S. This is because even though the cost of everything else here is higher, braiding is still a relatively new and underappreciated art, so that is one of the few things here that is less expensive. It is a shame because here, we actually pay more for supplies.
…but then I got some other good reasons.
I currently live in Israel, but I was born and raised in the U.S. So I was relieved to hear that the laws against natural hairstyling had been reversed in California and Washington D.C. and that many states avoided enforcing the racist laws. I was very disappointed that many more states still had laws on the books against braiding by any other than conventional cosmetologists (who are not trained in braiding at all, or not trained by qualified artists). People were getting arrested and jailed, and the primary target was Black women.
In many cases, these people had opened businesses already, and both they and their local chambers of commerce were completely unaware that what they were doing was technically illegal. With no warning, some were arrested out of the blue. Nobody knew because none of these racist laws passed an informed vote of the people. People became instant criminals by default. It was the equivelent of some greedy people banning cooking for any other than your immediate family, and then arresting someone for having guests over for dinner, or a rent party.
Some states have revised their laws, but some are still stuck on stupid. It is this that keeps me giving out information on cornrows for free. If they want to ban my culture, they’ve got a fight on their hands. I am rendering their laws obsolete by teaching anyone who wants to know African braiding. If everybody knows how to do it, and enough people are doing it, then there is no way they can keep track of who did what as long as everybody pays their taxes.
I will not let them drive us underground just because they don’t like African, Celtic, German, Polish, or whatever culture. We all have a tradition of braiding in our past. People of all ethnicities should get involved in combatting cultural hijacking by those who want to rewrite history for their own profits, and destroy the body image of people who, whatever color or hair texture, are good enough as we are, without using harmful chemicals to alter ourselves. You can trick the eye, but you can’t trick Nature or God(SWT).
So this site is here to promote the basics; to get people used to working with their natural hair texture, or at least opting for minimally harmful styling methods. Whether someone chooses curly or straight, it should be a choice, not something someone feels compelled to do because they don’t think the way they were made is good enough. Any kind of style or modification should be done for the sake of art and beauty, not because of fear and shame.
If you would like to help, you are welcome to do so. Write me to find out what you can do. The instructions need to be translated into as many languages as possible. Feel free to use the images in the How to Braid Cornrows page in exchange for a link back to this site.