I knew little about the challenges of African American hair until I moved to the Chicago area. Why? I knew no black people.
I’ve learned a lot from my black friends. And I’m still learning. I started rooting for “Hair Love” when I saw the kickstarter campaign on Facebook.
It’s heartwarming to me for two reason that have nothing to do with ethnicity.
- Hair gives us a unique way to say I Love You;
- Fathers’ (and grandfathers’) big hands navigating tiny barrettes and braids is the sweetest.
Mom fixing my hair said I Love You.
Mom told stories while she washed my hair. I’m pretty sure that’s how she kept me still. She put curlers in my hair while we watched TV and brushed it into waves in the morning before school. Often she quizzed me on my spelling words or times-tables at the same time. A few times in my childhood another adult got tasked with styling my hair. It never felt right. The pull was too much, the ponytail too low, or the brushstroke was just wrong.
Mom brushed my hair as I recovered from childhood tonsil surgery. She did the same thing after I was grown and recovering from surgery.
I’m lucky, I suppose. I had coarse, thick hair with a fairly manageable wave. (Not so cool when pin-straight hair is in style, but that’s a story for another day.)
CeCe has the same hair as I. CoCo does not. Her hair is thick and fine and straight. Barrettes slip out and braids won’t stay without a lot of spray. I had to learn a whole new skill-set with her hair.
Miss G has the same kind of hair as CoCo. Miss G’s Mom called on me to put her hair in a bun for her performance in “Grease.” Oh my! Blond hair escaped in directions that I never knew it could.
Dads big hands wrangling little locks says I Love You in a whole new way.
Dads (and Grandpa’s) don’t quite get why hair is so important. Still, they know it is and they try so hard. I don’t remember my dad ever trying to fix my hair.
When Miss G was a toddler, her brother, Mr. L, cut a big chunk close to the scalp. Daddy panicked, bundled up the kids and whisked them off to Great Clips
“Even it up,” he said, eyes wide and panicked.
The stylist did. (I know he was wide-eyed and panicked because he still looked that way when he told me the story a month later.)
The results horrified Mommy. She went into recovery mode with hats, ribbons, and headbands. I think Miss G looked cute as all get-out. However, she was mistaken for a chemo-patient more that once. (I have to admit, I school-glued a tiny bow to two-year-old CeCe’s bald head.)
We can all learn a little from “Hair Love.”
I listened to Matthew Cherry, the director of “Hair Love” on NPR. He explained the importance of representation. I learned that some kids are required to change their natural hair in order to attend school. For that reason, Matthew encourages us all to support the CROWN Act of 2019. Click here to listen to or read the interview.
The CROWN Act Of 2019 Calls For Federal Protection Against Hair Discrimination To Ensure All Natural Beauty Is Welcome In All Workplaces And Schools
The CROWN Coalition, a national alliance of organizations working to advance anti hair discrimination legislation, is celebrating a major victory with the introduction of a federal bill to ban hair discrimination called The CROWN Act of 2019. The CROWN Coalition, founded by Dove, National Urban League, Western Center on Law & Poverty, and Color Of Change, and supported by over 50 NGOs and non-profit organizations, have been working to raise awareness for the issue of hair discrimination and to drive action to end hair discrimination in workplaces and schools. The announcement of a federal bill, led by Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-Louisiana) and Senator Corey Booker (D-New Jersey), is a monumental milestone in the Coalition’s efforts to Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.WRBCtv
I’m pretty sure every woman and has a hair story that says “I Love You.” Maybe the guys do too.