Today I read an article about a white woman who “couldn’t cope” with her bi-racial daughter’s black hair. In the article she describes how the “ritual” of combing her hair became traumatic for both of them. Traumatic? Traumatic for BOTH of you guys?
She said that her daughter began to RESENT her hair and she knew this because she said she wished for a long, blonde braid like Elsa’s in Frozen.
When my niece wanted a long, blonde braid like Elsa’s, my mom took her to the Disney store, bought her the braid and slapped it on top of her head and she couldn’t have been happier. Was that resentment her daughter was feeling or was that a five year old wanting to be like the princess in one of the most popular kids’ movies? Resentment is an emotion that adults place on actions, not children. This is when I began to worry.
The author recalled times when black women stopped her in the street to suggest products for her daughter’s hair, only to dismiss their suggestions and immediately make this “struggle” about herself… feeling ashamed as if she was “failing her daughter.”
How unique of this white woman to center an issue of blackness around herself!
To me, a simple Google search, organic apple juice, gluten free cookies, Frozen on repeat and some practice would have made this experience a lot less traumatizing for both parties. I spoke with Elizabeth Pipe, a white mother of three girls, about her experience with hair and her daughters. One of her daughters is black and white, her foster daughter is black and her other daughter is white and Asian.
“I had to do research on all hair types so that I wouldn’t ruin their hair. I used it as bonding time.”
“So, no traumatic hair-styling sessions?”
“Absolutely not! It’s a blessing to do anything for my girls!”
I’m black and white. Can you even imagine an article where my black mom agonizes over my limp, tangled and greasy hair? All the while trying to navigate which hair ties wouldn’t rip my hair out? Right. Me neither.
The author eventually talked to a black woman about her white mom/black baby hair plight and tied up the article being the hero because she now knows how to run a comb through her child’s hair.
I’ve exhausted my capacity to nod and smile politely when I read these articles in which white parents seemingly tackle the burden of their children’s blackness.
If your child has asthma, you’re going to learn how and when to give them breathing treatments, right? Are you a hero for figuring that out, or are you a parent?
I worry about those parents who are look for praise or acknowledgement for something so simple as learning how to brush their kid’s hair. If you think I’m overreacting, understand that it starts with the “burden” of combing their hair which trickles down to self-esteem and self-love.
If negativity is tied to their black appearance, how do you think it shapes their outlook of themselves? Will they be proud of their blackness or will they inadvertently be taught that their blackness is a burden and unwanted?