Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hair Happy

During one of our "parent workshops" at the family week we just attended was a session on multicultural families. What I thought would be a sharing of information, resources and information quickly turned laughable. One particular area that always gets to me is the lack of interest in learning about AA hair in transracial adoptions. It really was scary how many people thought it would be better to cut off their little girls hair rather than learning how to properly care for hair different than their own. Out of our small group of parents I was the only person who enthusiastically enjoyed creating different hairstyles.

It was obvious many parents spent zero time learning about hair care and the cultural implications of hair in AA culture. The facilitator asked me to do a workshop next year.....which is in itself laughable to think that a midwestern white girl like me was the best expert they could find on the subject.

As a white woman trying to raise strong, proud, black women I am aware of how critical the definition of race, culture and beauty is tied to hair- specifically curly hair. Hair has strong personal, cultural and even political meaning within and out of the black community. I'm constantly trying to learn more about different styles, products and resources -not only for myself, but for the women my girls will become.

I hope to arm them with enough information and resources that they can make educated thoughtful decisions about their own hair. I hope to take the learning curve out of caring for their hair by passing on what I've learned about what works for each of their individual hair types. I hope to give them strong ties to their culture of origin by maintaining hairstyles that are stylish among their peers. I hope to build a strong mother-daughter bond by spending time lovingly grooming and styling my daughters hair. I hope to always let them know how beautiful they are by being informed and thoughtful in caring for their beautiful curly hair.


Gawdess said...

Beautiful hair pictures!

It is a wonder about the lack of interest and understanding.

fostermama said...

(other fostermama here)
Sometimes I think white parents have a racist negative association with common black girl hairstyles. I think they don't *want* their little girls to look like "those girls," (too black-looking) so they use the supposed difficulty of learning how to do it as an excuse.

Perhaps this is somewhere that adoption agencies should be more pro-active. Not just offering opportunities for white adoptive moms to learn about AA hair, but really pushing the issue. They tend to tread so lightly so as not to scare off the white folks who are "willing" to adopt black babies. *sigh*

I have probably asked you this before, but do you have Happy to be Nappy? I really love that book.

Beth said...

People surprise and amaze me sometimes. I have been trying to find words since reading this post, and I just can't. It makes me angry that people would not want to learn how to take care of their own children's hair. Or at least respect it -- if you can't or don't want to learn, then at least pay someone to style it who knows what they are doing!

Anonymous said...

Agreeing wholeheartedly with your post and all comments. Have you considered going to the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival with your girls, & giving a workshop there? I could really use some hands-on, supervised instruction.

Becky said...

My own husband continually recommends that I close cut our daughter's hair. I refuse for all of the reasons you so eloquently stated. We're just getting going with a few braids - all she can tolerate so far. She wants the beads and braids, but doesn't want the combing.

Your hair styles and technique are fantastic! My braids are a little messy and twists come out looking like locks.

I'm thinking about starting a forum on black hair for white people. Do you think there would be interest? I was a member of a yahoo group, but was overwhelmed with emails, most of which didn't interest me. I think a forum with a gallery would be better because you could read only what you wanted to.

Lionmom said...

What if I just can't do it??? I try, but I'm just not good at braiding. I keep her hair conditioned and combed and cared for. We get her braids semi-regularly. And she has adorable ringlet curls that I am good at styling. But I personally suck at it, and I'm better than my wife.


Fostermama said...

Becky, I think any resource that will help others would be well received.