Click here for Part 1 of Black Hair, Revisited.
During the first few weeks after my office moved from Midtown East to Times Square, I kept my eyes peeled for every new sight, and smelled every new smell. There was Bryant Park with its huge lawn to relax on, the bright lights late at night in the Square and all the tourists milling about at all times, making it difficult to grab a bit for lunch.
One day, when I was walking to Bryant Park to enjoy some time away from my desk, I looked over and saw what was surely a hole-in-the-wall Dominican salon. It had all the markers: a row of chairs with the stuffing falling out of the plastic seats, each supporting the ass of a woman who’s been waiting too long just to get her hair done. Some of those women were chatting away on Sidekicks, some were eating beans and rice from a Styrofoam container picked up at the bodega next store. Continue reading
For the original photos and stories on my ongoing hair saga, read my Black Hair Mommy blog posts.
So, I’ve lived here for two years now. Have had two years with my wonderful Black Hair Mommies, who go by Leona and Cynthia at Joseph Tyler Salon in Brooklyn. If you remember reading the blog posts I linked to above, you’ll know my efforts to grow out my hair have not been without humor or tribulation. Continue reading
For Black Hair Mommies, Part 1, click here.
For all my hair-related posts, click here.
This post is for all my black sisters, all my white sisters raising biracial babies and for my white girlfriends who are endlessly fascinated with my hair (as I am with theirs).
I was forlorn at having to leave my hairdresser back home when I moved. She was one of only a couple of women in the state who specialized in ethnic hair and I’d been seeing her every two months for close to four years. She outlasted a couple of my romantic relationships, that’s for sure. Still, Cassandra and I couldn’t figure out why we couldn’t get my hair to grow.
I know most of my readers are either white or male, so I’ll take a quick moment to explain the whole point of writing this post. The reason why you don’t see a lot of black women walking around with long hair is because our hair is exceedingly dry and delicate. (Unprocessed) Caucasian, Asian and Latina hair is strong and flexible like fishing line while our hair breaks like a filament of spun sugar. Continue reading
When you’re a little black girl, you get put into one of two groups: those with “good” hair and those with, well, bad hair. As you grow up, the hair issue becomes more nefarious as those with “bad” hair learn to distinguish themselves as being the proud owners of Natural hair, nappy hair or dreadlocks. Some even make it seem like having anything other than Natural hair is a denial of one’s race. Others just get weaves. Occasionally, the good hair girls get castigated for trying to pass as white, while in reality many of them are of mixed heritage and have their genes, not conscious choice, to thank for their lustrous locks.
Being of mixed descent myself, I’ve watched the hair debate from the sidelines. I never needed to defend my choice of hairstyle to anyone as a teenager or young woman because there were no other black people around. And that there was the problem with my hair: There were NO black people around. Continue reading
Prof. John Ernest with me and Kristin at our college graduation
I went to college with a mission: I wanted to learn more about Being Black. Problem was, $10,000 of my scholarship money for New York University had fallen through on the day of my high school graduation. I wouldn’t be attending school in the diverse Mecca-lekka-hiney-bro Melting Pot known as NYC.
Nope. The University of New Hampshire would be hosting my education in Being Black. It was as unlikely a place as one could find for increasing cultural awareness. There were 78 Black students out of 13,000. If you were counting me, there were only 77.5 Black students. We do what we can with what we have, though, and what I had was a course catalogue listing a 500-level course for Introduction to African-American Literature.
Any time I’ve ever wanted to understand anything, I’ve turned to books. From cooking to interior design to tarot card reading, if there was anything I’ve wanted to understand, I just buried myself in every chapter and verse I could get my hands on. I thought if I could read about other Black people, their history, what they had been through . . . maybe I would understand a little bit more about myself. Continue reading