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  • by Jamaal

The hair monster...


Yay! My first blog post.

I'm not going to lie. I'm a man. And I grew up all boy. I played with Lego Blocks, Little League Baseball, and Nintendo was life. Nowhere in that childhood did I ever play with dolls. Unless you count the times that I would put my sister's dolls on "trial" and then I would hang them in the closet by the neck.

My younger sister, on the other hand, played with dolls and developed a love of doing hair. To this day, she is walking her dream out in Georgia. (Shameless plug, Conyers, GA, holla at my sister Lurlean! She's cold!) She used to do all the hair for her friends and some family. I missed those life lessons trying to save the Princess in Legend of Zelda.

Fast forward to today. My oldest daughter, Ayanna, has beautiful hair. Her mom is half White/ half Trini so her hair has a curl to it. Me, my hair is from the "struggle". Nappy, thick, whooly. It was a blessing in disguise when I started going bald. Amanyi's mom was White. So her hair is thick and super curly, but still got a lot of the "Struggle Hair" qualities to it.

Ayanna is 12. She's coming to that age where she's discovering that little things like hair is super important to a little lady. However, the days of her letting Daddy play in her hair are long gone. It's serious business now. I asked her a few weeks ago if she wanted me to do her hair. She shot me a look of anger, disgust, and (made up word) "Niggapleaseness".

I was a tad bit in my feelings. I'm not going to lie. My little baby was growing up. (This however, would pale in comparison to the way I felt when she got her first period, buuuuttttt that's another post for another day) She wanted to feel more independent and do her own hair. Because she knew I did not have the qualifications to do it. I was proud that she was taking this step on her own.

One day, last school year. She came to me in tears. As a man, when your little girl comes crying to you about anything, you're rets to go to war. Load the pistol, get the bond money together, we ready to ride out! So I asked her what was wrong. Through the tears, she told me that some of the girls she went to school with were making fun of her hair.

Now, a little background on where we live. I live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Yes, Iowa. I know what you're thinking. And yes, there are Black people in Iowa. (Again, another blog post for another day). So I asked her, "Where the girls that were making fun of you Black or White?" Yes. It makes a difference. If they were White, then I could chalk it up to ignorance and maybe prejudice. We could watch Roots again and we would be straight.

But they were Black. Ugh.

Now you would think that in a sea of white faces, the Black girls would stick together and hold each other up and not do petty stuff like that. False, if we can't master that skill as adults, why would we expect kids to do it? Apparently, they were giving her a hard time because she wore her hair in a very natural style. Pretty much Afro. With a headband.

Ayanna her natural hair style (ain't she pretty!)

Ayanna never wanted her hair braided, box braids, or any type of weave. That wasn't her style. She wanted people to accept her for who she was. She wanted to do her. But they wouldn't let her.

So she cried to me. And I fucking hurt. Again, I'm a man. You need something fixed, I'm there. You need a jar opened, bring it here. But this...Wow. I was lost.

I did the only thing that I could think of...

...I tried to encourage her.

I told her that she was a beautiful Black young woman.

I told her that she could wear her hair however she wanted, and if they didn't like it, then they could go to Hell.

And I showed her pictures of other Black women who had natural styles and how pretty they were. We went and saw Black Panther, and I pointed out how EVERY Black woman in that movie had a natural hair style. I showed her pictures of her oldest cousin. She's 18, beautiful, and has super short hair.

In the end, she stopped crying and believed me. But the Hair Monster is real. And when you're a Single Black Dad and you were raised like me, then you have zero idea of what to do. Google helps. Opinions help. But at the end of the day, that's a monster that you have conquer on your own. But no matter what, I hope you instill in your kids the fact that they are beautiful the way they are. That's what I had to do.


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