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Victoria Uwonkunda Headshot

Viola Davis, YOU are a Winner

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At last night's Academy award ceremony, Hollywood's big night, actress Viola Davis, lost to heavyweight thespian Meryl Streep in the 'Best Actress' category, but to so many of us, she was the queen of the night.

By 'us' I don't mean women or black people, in general. By 'us' I mean, those who choose to wear their natural hair.

A couple of days ago when Ms. Davis showed up with her natural hair do at Essence magazine party, honouring black women in film, she wowed and took many people by surprise. Those of us who are championing for natural hair, rejoiced for the sheer fact that here was someone, so respected in her field and in the public eye, who chose to shun the much preferred wavy and flowy wigs that most of her peers, and which she herself has worn in the past, wear.

She told the press that she felt 'empowered' by the simple fact of wearing her natural hair.
"I feel very powerful, I really do. I feel more powerful everyday, more secure in who I am and I've waited so long for that feeling. It feels so divine," she said.

Oh, how I can relate. I went for the 'Big Chop' (cutting off all my chemically treated hair to an inch off my scalp) last November after several previous failed attempts. Donning an afro hairstyle is a big deal, people. So big that comedian Chris Rock made a 'hairmentary' about the attachment black women have to their hair, after her young daughter came home crying wondering why she doesn't have 'good hair'.

I'm sure some of you are wondering why I'm making this into a big deal, but my good people, black hair is a big deal and even a bigger business. In the documentary 'Good Hair', Rock discovers that black hair is a multi billion dollar-a-year industry in the US, as I'm sure its numbers closely reflect those in the UK. I didn't make it such a big deal, society did and we are merely 'conforming' to it.

I didn't choose to make it a big deal, I was simply born into it. With our favourite celebrities sporting the silky and long wigs, weaves or extensions, I can bet money there aren't that many of you who have seen a black woman's real hair. You know why? Our society doesn't quite understand the political kinks of afro hair and sadly enough, it is the same society that keeps portraying silky smooth hair as the 'acceptable' norm.

So when a couple of days ago, I wished upon the Twitter bird for the 46-year-old actress to show up at the Oscars with her Teeny Weeny Afro, I was more than delighted to wake up today and see my 'prayers' had been answered.

So, though Ms Davis for the time being remains an 'Oscar nominee', she is still a winner to those of us, who dared and continue to take a stand in a society that still struggles to come to grips with the state of our natural hair. With her, proudly holding her afro-haired head up on the red carpet last night, she was standing with and for us all.

And for that, I salute you, Ms. Davis.