Thursday, April 21, 2011

White Mothers / Black Hair

Who Done It HeadThis is a fantastic post where a transracial / international adoptive parent takes a serious, heartfelt look at the never to be underestimated issue of HAIR of color. I love what she has to say and the way she says it. I think it all boils down to respect, of the child, the culture around her, his heritage and of her job to attempt to teach him something that she doesn’t know herself – how to be black in America.  There are lots of interesting comments to read too.

As a preteen and teen a regular part of my Saturday morning was the smell of sizzling hair grease and singed hair wafting through the house, floor, building from the hot comb heating on a burner of the stove. (Thank goodness for flat irons)Plaits, parts, and the ritual scratching of heads are things that I grew up with, that I know, that I love. Black/African American/ African-African hair is not something many white people have much experience with of understanding of.

I know that since that time I have seen that white momma, with that black child, with that dried out, broken off hair that was all over their head and I have hung my head in shame for them. I have thought “that poor baby, if that momma is going to raise a black child, the least she could do is learn how to braid, find someone who can or take them to the beauty shop or barber and do something with that hair.”

And I know that when J was with us when his mother was sick, I kept up with his hair because I knew that if I didn’t it would be,

“Tisk, tisk what a shame.” On me.

It was never lost on me that if I were black, I could have waited longer between cuts. His momma could have let him grow his hair down his back and got him a press-N-curl if she were so inclined (and believe me she wasn’t). But as the white lady, I felt my obligation to him was to follow the standard for an African American child of his age during that time in our area. It was bad enough his mom was sick, he was separated from his family and staying with relative strangers, would it have been fair to add pitiful and scornful looks from strangers over his hair to the mix, with a case of who done it head?

Nobody wants anybody to think that must be a motherless child, about their child, from a crossed the mall. Well, at least I didn’t.

What do you think?

Do I have it all wrong?

What would you think about me as a mother if I took my white child out in public looking like this?

Let me hear it…

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