I’m in the sharing mood. For the next couple of weeks, I’m planning on sharing some of the blog content I’ve written and posted on Natural Sunshine.
Here’s the first, originally posted on November 12, 2011:
A kid’s birthday party left me angry!
boyfriend and I attended our friends’ daughter’s first birthday party
yesterday. It was a typical kids’ party but I seemed to have experienced
it in a different way than I would have say a year ago, before going
natural. I saw and heard too many things that rubbed me the wrong way
and it all had to do with hair…
• Birthday girl’s hair – Both of her parents are black African. I
can’t say for sure if there was any kind of mix further up either of
their genealogies but as far as I know, they’re fully African so
birthday girl is also “100%” black. I noticed how every adult at the
party would comment on how beautiful she is but then focus on how
gorgeous her hair is. Now don’t get me wrong, she is a beautiful,
friendly, happy and active little one. And her hair is beautiful too.
What I wasn’t liking is how much emphasis the adults were putting on her
hair. She has a big, thick and fluffy afro which has a very silky
texture and loose curl pattern. Not “kinky” at all. So people would tell
her mom that she’s so lucky she turned out with that hair, asking her
where she got that soft hair from and not believing that there’s no
mixture in their immediate family line. I felt like people were
inferring that if you’re 100% black and African, there’s no way your
hair can come out so “beautifully”. (I put that in quotes because your
hair can be beautiful even if it’s kinky too).
I also felt
that by them emphasizing how gorgeous her hair is, they believed her
hair made her even more beautiful. Her hair was the star of her
appearance. This saddens me because she’s only 1 and people are already
putting so much worth on her hair. Also, of all the kids there, she had
the least kinky hair and was the only one getting attention for her hair
which again made me see the beginning of the good hair/ bad hair
divide. We as adults complain about it now yet there we were continuing
the cycle. I’m not saying no one should compliment birthday girl’s hair
anymore, just thinking it could be done carefully and tactfully.
• The mess of hair – I’m not a parent yet so I
obviously don’t know the pressures of parenting and the amount of time
one has to do certain things. But yesterday, I saw a lot of unhealthy hair sitting
on these poor children’s heads. One little boy’s hair was so uncombed
it had started locking at the nape. I could totally see what had
happened. He had bed hair…you know the shape your fro gets into
when you sleep: high at the top and flattened around the back and sides.
And when he woke up, the parents didn’t comb it, fluff it out or
anything. Just let it be day in, day out. He doesn’t have that short,
cropped hair that’s too short to comb. It was long enough to get tangled
at the back. I felt so bad for him. I just think he would’ve looked
more presentable with a cropped cut that didn’t get all tangled etc. or a
neat, untangled fluffy fro.
Then came the girls. There were
about four little girls at the party (excluding the birthday girl). All
of them were aged 4 or younger and they were all sporting afro puffs.
Not healthy, bouncy afro puffs but overly pulled, tangled, receeding
hairline and dry, dry, DRY puffs. One girl I believe still had a couple
braided extensions up in there while the rest of her hair wasn’t in
extensions. I just didn’t understand it. They were all looking so cute
with their little dresses, shoes and sparking smiles but it’s like their
parents hadn’t bothered to do their hair. I remember looking around
thinking, what’s wrong with braids? Cornrows? Twists? Have they gone out
of fashion? If these parents can’t or won’t do their children’s hair on
a daily basis, why not put their hair in a neat protective style for
awhile? Now their children are walking around with messy hair that
doesn’t get any compliments, (especially compared to the children who
have “good hair”) and they’re probably beginning to associate their
kinkier hair to “bad hair” because their parents haven’t learnt to take
care of their natural hair properly.
• The relaxer talk
– When talking about birthday girl’s hair, someone joked and
asked when they’re going to start putting relaxer in it. Because it was
an obvious joke, I didn’t say anything but then other people were
taking him seriously and were chiming in about “but she doesn’t need to
get relaxer, her hair’s already soft/beautiful/nice”. ‘Scuse me? Since
when do ANY of us NEED relaxer? Did God create us with our afro textured
hair with the aim of us all getting relaxers ten years into our lives? I
don’t think so. We have this hair for a reason. There’s nothing natural
about relaxing and certainly nothing necessitates it. I’m not bashing
people who relax, I used to be one of them, lol. But the mentality that
we’re passing onto the next generation is “some girls NEED to relax
their hair, other’s don’t”. That’s crazy.
Then the same guy
went on to continue that he heard about some great relaxer that
permanently relaxes your hair. This is when I chimed in since none of the other adults were saying anything. I had to educate him that all relaxers permanently
straightens hair and the dangers of the chemicals used etc. I had
started noticing a few years ago that although they grow up with us as
brothers etc. many black men (at least the ones I interact with) don’t
know much about how our hair works and what relaxers actually do to it.
So when they see a girl going natural, some of them scoff at her thinking she
gave up on her hair or she’s trying to rebel. They don’t appreciate the
possible reason that she doesn’t want to put such harsh chemicals onto
her hair anymore because they don’t know the facts.
• The obsession with bi-racial hair – Of us adults at the party,
there were two sets of interracial relationships; my boyfriend and
myself included. Still on the hair talk, people then started commenting
on how beautiful our kids (mine and my boyfriend’s and the other
couple’s) will come out. People went on about their skin complexion
being perfect and their hair… “OMG their hair! Wow, your kids’ hair will
be amazing!” Really? Just because I’ll be married to a white guy? And
if my boyfriend had been black, then my kids won’t come out cute? I know
my children will be beautiful, whether I marry my boyfriend or not.
They’ll be beautiful because they’ll be mine and were given to me as
blessings from God. I thought it was sad, that even as educated,
informed and modern young adults, we as a peer group still walk around
with this mentality.
Okay, phew. My
rant is over. I just wanted to share that experience and my thoughts with you. if you
have thoughts on any of these points, do share 🙂