I know that it’s been a while since I did one of these, but I think it’s time for another one. The last one I did was about the importance of names. This one is about hair. If you know me personally, then you know that my hair is natural. Natural or relaxed, my hair easily goes from kept to nappy if I allow it to run loose on it’s own. Going natural is something that is a personal choice, one that should be respected by the world around us. I recently heard about this story and it irritated me. On multiple levels. Yes, I know that the world is changing and with that so is the educational system that we trust. I know that this because I am in the schools as a volunteer, I work at an afterschool program and I am working on my teaching certification. I work with students who struggle with reading, as well as with math. I work with kids because they are failing because they don’t turn in their homework. I work with young black students who have self esteem issues because they don’t understand material as quickly as others or because they don’t want anyone to know how smart they truly are. With all that is happening in the classroom and with test scores, the last thing that we need to focus on is a student’s hair. Especially when there is nothing wrong with their hair.
And I hate to be the one to inform you that this is not an issue that is isolated. I tutored my friend’s third grade daughter last year. A note was sent home to the mom stating that if the kids come to school with unkempt hair again, they would be sent them home and report the mom. Here is the problem. The kids hair is natural. The mom had been working with each of her daughters and talking with them about how beautiful and versatile natural hair is. The one that I worked with, was self conscious about wearing her hair out in a fro. The day that the letter came home, she was excited because she had rocked her fro and rocked it well. It wasn’t a distraction. It just didn’t meet someone’s standard. I can’t even say with confidence that the letter writer was white and just didn’t understand. I have encountered a few black people who have made snide comments about my “nappy” hair. My response is always the same. it’s not nappy it’s natural.
Hair care is always an issue with women-white or black. I have more friends who are white and dissatisfied with their hair than that are black. Black hair is versatile in either permed or natural state. But there is also history that is threaded through black hair and the complex self issues that go along with it. Until you know the story, remember to respect the hair.
I leave you with this: