My son takes after me. He has a head full of thick, untamable, unruly natural hair. It’s beautiful, it’s healthy but it’s got a stubborn streak as long as he is tall. Left to its own devices, it coils up tight to his head and dares me to bring the ruckus (read: comb).
I didn’t know what to do with it. I could barely even do my own hair, after all, that’s what they make salons for. So, that’s where I would take him too. Twists, braids, cornrows, every other week, his hair would be bound up. But on wash days, we could see the growth and the fullness of his afro and I would wish that he could rock that too. Alas, that was always a hard pass from the kid.
He’d refuse, saying his hair was too big, and the other kids would make fun of him. It made me sad that he was afraid of standing out, of being himself. Was this my fault for always wearing my natural hair straight? Our fault, as parents, for not encouraging him to love the skin (and hair) he’s in? Our fault, as a society, for not valuing, not celebrating, the inherent (and beautiful) differences of young people of color?
Introducing: IconAfros. Iconic afros throughout time and culture.