Monday, February 23, 2009

Parents, Children, and The Hairy Topic of Hair

It's not always light and happy when you're talking about natural hair. Time and time again, some contentious issues pop up on these blogs and message boards.

One such topic is the issue of white parents caring for the hair of their black or biracial children. This discussion happens a lot in the transracial adoption community, where Caucasian parents adopt little ones of African heritage. Tami of What Tami Say was reading one particular site, and took offense to some of the mis-information offered as advice...

...the site "informed" that black, natural hair tends to be drier than white hair and requires added moisture (Okay...that is often true--not always, but often). Then the writer offers that, despite the need for moisture, black hair shouldn't be washed often, as too much water can be drying. Wait...what? Now, one might generally assume that water and moisture are damn near synonymous. Apparently, though, on black people, water is not....wet. Also, if you feed a black woman after midnight, she turns into a gremlin. Okay. That last bit isn't true. But neither is the first bit, which feeds the notion of black, natural hair as some mysterious, unknown quantity, defying even the natural laws of liquids.
Tami continues...
Black hair does not require special care. It simply requires care, like anyone else's hair. Black hair care only seems special or unusual if you a) start with the assumption that what works for white hair is what is normal and right for all--the baseline against which all other regimens must be judged; or, b) care for black hair with an eye toward making it embody the qualities of non-black hair, rather than its own qualities.
I completely agree with Tami. But I can't help but point out -- black parents are just as likely as anyone else to take misguided steps in grooming their children's hair. I'm saying, the more I play with my hair now, the more I wonder why I was ever given a relaxer in the first place. And it makes me sad to think, at 25, I'm just now learning about proper moisture, styling and protection for my hair. And all of that, I'm learning from you ladies across the Internet.

So what say you? Did your hair ever seem like a burden to your parents, whether they be black, white, or other? How did that affect your perception of your hair as a kid? And if you're a parent, how do you look at your child's hair now?

(Big ups to Ann for the link!)


Nicole said...

Hell yeah it was difficult!!! Excuse my French. As a child my mother locked my in between her legs while I cried and screamed the whole time. It was awful! As much as my mother claimed she was being gentle, it was never gentle enough for me! It got easier, and then my hair got drier, much harder, and way tougher. Getting ready for school in the morning was a constant battle. At that point it became a burden for both my mother and me and the relaxer came at age 10. The battle didn't warp my perception of my hair, Disney had already done that for me. My hair was just a fact of life, but I do remember the oohs and ahhs that I received when I went to school with my hair relaxed for the first time. The great thing about the whole experience though is that when I have kids, I'll have a better idea of what to do. Hopefully that means they won't have to endure a battle of epic mental and physical proportions with their hair...because before September 08 I'm pretty sure my kids would have been SO S.O.L.

Nadienne said...

For my parents, yes it was a struggle but moreso for my mother. For herself, she would go to hair salons to keep things looking nice but when you didn't go there, things tended to get a little crazy. With me, she tried relaxers when I was younger and took me to the salons as I got older. But any inbetween time, or at night... it was all on me.

I have been natural for almost a year now and it has been a struggle! I do my best to wash, condition, & moisturize. When I'm lucky, I get a friend of mind to braid up (my natural hair) in some cute, kinda funky styles. In between those days though, I will definitely be caught sporting a scarf-turned-head band (has anyone noticed how those headbands from a CVS or Bi-Lo break fast as crap w/ natural hair?) or just letting my hair do what it do... haha. I try to keep it neat but as of know I am definitely running along the lines of my own definition of neatness. While I'm struggling with my hair a bit here (being broke makes this going natural feat just that much more difficult) I still absolutely love my hair's texture. I still have some of my relaxed hair on the ends and am in the process of finding an AWESOME (because I will have NOTHING less) hair dresser to 1. trim 2.color 3. texturize(?) my hair because even on the days when I just want to let my hair GO, the relaxed parts stick up and out like some kind of plant.

But til that happens... haha...I'll just do my best. :]

laplante said...

Glad to find this blog. We're looking for some helpful suggestions for biracial hair care for kids:
Any suggestions or experiences are welcomed. Thanks!

goldenchica said...

My mom dealt with my hair on a "special occassions" basis only from age six...I was responsible for the day-to-day care of my hair. As a result, I loved enduring the pain of the hot comb and the tugging of extension cornrows when she chose to help me out for Thanksgivings and such. But when I got older (17) Mami decided I needed to look my age, and it was off to the salon for a relaxer. Now, at 20 I've recently BC'd, and all my mother could do was confess concern that I had unrealistic expectations for my hair. When I told her about the styling options I was learning about online she said "I never wanted to tell you this, but your hair is difficult. You have a weird mix of nappy, wavy, and curly hair [I'm biracial]." I'm glad my mom let me discover haircare on my own and I hope that I can show her that my hair can look mature and chic in its natural texture now.

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