Sunday, March 6, 2011

Birthdays and a Black Woman's Hair

I was born in Jamaica on March 11, 1964. So that makes me 47 in a few days. But don't think I'm so brave to tell you my age (BTW: presents are appreciated.)  Once you've been a politician, your whole life is public--just look me up on Wikipedia. Now some of it is true and some are lies. Well, one reporter got his "facts" wrong 10 years ago and it keeps popping up. Even heard it again last month as someone read my bio outloud. Grrrr. I guess that's why my father always said, "Believe some of what you hear and half of what you read."

But I want to talk about a black woman's hair and stomp being a wimp. Watch me connect it to my birthday.

My mother's father came from a people in Jamaica called Maroons. They were Africans, brought to Jamaica as slaves, but killed their white owners and claimed to have never mixed with other races of Jamaicans. So it's a wonder that my mother, who is of very dark complexion, had very coarse, but very long hair--between shoulder blades! My father, on the other hand, had a mother who was half-Syrian and his father was half white or three-quarters something else....

So my hair was something of a hodgepodge. My mother told me never to relax my hair since people said I had "good hair"--because the relaxer would destroy it. See, I wanted bouncing and behaving, fly away hair.  Well, I didn't listen and I later regretted it. While we are here, what is "good hair"? I detest hearing people describe hair in these terms and it is long past time for us to know better. If it is "good hair," then I am diminished!  Good compared to what? Already we are having to tell the grandchild that her hair is what God wanted for her.
And what got me talking about this hair business is that I have a birthday coming up--as I already mentioned. And birthdays have a way of making you consider what you've accomplished in your life, what you could have done better, opportunites you might have missed, etc. Yesterday, I washed my hair with the new procedures that I learned from See I've decided that I'm no longer spending X dollars at the beauty shop and endless hours to get my hair straight so that it's acceptable. Acceptable to whom? What is acceptable?

So, I read Moptop's blog for hours, watched the videos, bought the products and have been faithful to it for three months now. Yesterday was my time to try the Henna treatment.

I prepared the Henna from the night before and put it on my hair. I walked around with that mess on my hair for four hours, stinking, then conditioning, then putting four different products on my hair, then blow drying, and finally to bed. I looked over at my husband, who has cut his hair so close that he's almost bald. I got real mad. All he does is wash and go!

Then before church this morning, I spent another hour getting my hair straight with the curling iron! As I watched the plumes of smoke rise from my head, I wondered if I'd burned my hair and undone all the work I've been fastidious about. This is now the fourth time in my life that I've that I have chopped off my hair--I mean down to the skull, to start all over to get my hair back to natural. And I start to get mad again. Why? Why am I doing this? I'm going to 47 in a few days! Why am I spending ssooo much time on my hair? Have I learned nothing and here I'm about to be one year older?

So here's what I've decided: I'm done--like the Sesame Street video says.  Done with making my hair presentable.

What is presentable?  Does it have to be smooth to be presentable?  Done with being a slave to my hair. Done with spending money on it. Just plain done. So, if you see me one day and I have hair as long as Lady Godiva and the next it's in an afro, don't ask me if it was a wig. You know it had to be a wig! I'm not gonna worry that the grand kids will talk about my wig in public. I don't care that YOU are trying to figure that it's not my hair because, "Girl, you know she can't get it that straight!" I don't care that you know that last month it was black and this month it's got some grey, "So you know she had to have been coloring it!" Naw, I don't care anymore.

This is the hair God gave me. I'm not being a militant, black woman--just wearing my hair naturally, the hair God wanted me to have. He knew this was the best hair for me. So, no more wimping out! Yes! It's a wig! Yes! I colored it! Yes! My hair is this long or maybe not! Yes! This time it's really my own hair!

By the way, the hour I spent before church on getting my own, natural hair straight did look nice today. Husband said so. Easy for him to say: like I said, all he does is wash and go. But, maybe I'll put off buying the wig until my next birthday--when I do my self assessment, again. And get mad, again.

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