It's kind of long, but I enjoyed this! Hope you all do too!
Black Female Hair has been subject to scrunity, debate and scorn. It has been altered from its naturally tightly curled state to limp loose sickly strands.(Ms. D sidenote: this only applies to SOME people ) It has been teased by boys, and mocked by girls. It has been stressed from tightly intertwined braids, hidden by sew-ins weaves, chemically changed by relaxers and burned by too much heat. It has been colored, cut, styled, teased, primped, and even shaped into mountaneous mile-high creations where birds can (and have) lived. It has been called good (if it's long and free flowing and Barbie-esque); it has been called bad (if it's tight and curled and nappy-like); it has been called bought (gone today, hair tomorrow). White women burned bras to take a stand against injustice and inequality; Black women grew afros.
But nothing that Black Hair has gone through even mildly equates to what happens when a Black teacher (me) teaches in a primarily white and non-Black area with girls ages 12-14.
I have been growing out my relaxer since February and have experimented with a few different hair varieties to help my days run a little more smoothly. June I experimented with a weave (disastrous). Augustl I experimented with French Braids (too jail like). October I experimented with what I can best describe as "crazy hair" (actually cute)
I wash my hair and when it is wet I add setting lotion and a little tea tree oil and leave in conditioner. No, first I persuade one of my friends to give up a Saturday night with a bottle of Bacardi, a hand full of mint leaves, a lime and some club soda. Then I do the washing, conditioning, adding business.
Then, a friend and I commence to twisting my hair into about 70 small different twists that are held in place with bobby pins. I go to sleep. I wake up and un-pin, un-twist my hair.
The result: a curly crazy mass that most closely resembles a very cute and curly afro. I'm satisfied and with a little (and I do mean little) maintenance I can make it for about 5-6 days before I have to come up with an alternate plan.
What I have noticed: White people absolutely love my "ethnic" hair and can't seem to compliment it enough. I love compliments and am happy. Black people love my "natural" hair and actually ask how I did it. Middle school children think I'm wearing a wig.
Yesterday, as I was bending down to unlock a door, I heard a titter behind my back. I ignored it. Then I heard a whisper "I dare you" and more titters. Any teacher would tell you that's a definite sign of trouble, but unfortunately I had a ring of keys around my neck and one of the keys in the door so I could not immediately look for whatever trouble was brewing. Then I felt two small hands tentatively push the top of my hair and feel it bounce back. More giggles.
"You rang?" I replied, not quite irritated, but a little confused.
"It's real?" replied one of my 8th graders.
"What's real?" my response was coupled with a quizzical look on my face.
"Your hair, Ms. Daughtery. That's sooooo (all middle school girls drag out the words so, like, duh...) like cool. How did you do that?" asked white girl student #1.
"Do what?" I probed.
"You know...get it to stand up like that."
Not offended, I gave a quick tutorial on the inns and outs of Black hair for my little girls and, evidently, tomorrow they're all trying to grow curly afros. We'll see how that works out.
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