Archive for the ‘natural hair’ Category

Hair, Home and Meaning

January 28, 2012

“To tell the truth is to become beautiful, to begin to love yourself, value yourself. And that’s political, in its most profound way.”  — June Jordan

I come from a culture, it is said, somewhere between where the Ganges meets the Nile, converging with European colonialists, Chinese, Syrians and indigenous people. Where girls slicked their hair back with petroleum jelly and water — cinching cinnamon buns wound close and pulled tight with woogies. Where box-plaits were common and traditionally, you got braids for carnival, even my East-Indian, white and black mixed friend whose hair I’d done, tightly winding the ends with tiny rubber-bands. Her father hated them, she told me — hated how it looked when she plaited up her hair. And my curly haired primary school friend: a Trini ‘Spanish’ — every swivel of her head echoing with the clack of snap fasteners and aluminum foil on the ends down her back.

In secondary school, rebellious girls shaved half the underside of their heads — it was a way to be definitively edgy then. And more than one East-Indian girl came into her own by loping off the long, dark strands she’d been waiting to remove. Many of them, never looked back. Some girls permed their hair straight; some were life long naturals like me. Some of those naturals permed then when natural again — some stayed natural, adding length in locks, in nattys: coiling, clumping, unbridled, twisting, spiraling across shoulders, down lower backs.

Our heads once smelled like Luster’s pink oil, Let’s Jam! pudding and African Pride products. We pulled brushes from school book-bags and dipped them under the tap before dragging them across our scalps and flaked black gel buildup from our tresses.  We leaked jheri-curl juice onto the top of our blouse collars and maintained dry-curls and glittered finger waves.  We learnt about “weave-ons” and sat still with our selves, quietly dancing fingers around and around to put our hair in corkscrew twists.

We traded in banana clips, barrettes, the sharp teeth of tortoise shell hair combs and baubles; and sported bandeaus, bandanas wrapped around buns and metal hair clips made famous by those girls tumbling through the air at the Olympics on TV, instead. Once upon a time, our mothers slow-rubbed Dax grease into our roots, coated strands with coconut oil and wove colored woolies into plaits and styled them to match uniforms. They burnt and sewed the edges of our hair bows so they wouldn’t unravel — and when they did, we ran the length of school yards in vain, searching for them like lost dreams in the breeze.

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yea i know this is not a hair blog, but…

May 31, 2009

“small ting” as we say in trini.

i’m soooo excited about how moisturized and black and scrumptious my hair looks in this random pic that i espied in a friend’s photo album. [post-slight-fiasco-on-virgin-hair and several packs of braids later. so yes, all things considered, i’m frickin’ excited about it].

black girl hair :-)

also, when i go to work,  i love how some of the little black girls in our program, who are still sporting their natural afro-coils and plenty baubles and barrettes, play in my hair. their little hands idly grasping some sections, fake-stylin’ telling me what i should do with it—put a pink band with a bow on it here or there. hmmm….you know what?  i’m so thinking about that too.

in trinidad, when i was in primary school, we were fascinated with hair, among other things. older girls played with younger girls’ hair whom they knew and friends played in [or tried to play in] other friends’ hair. i remember little girls would tell other little girls that “letting somebody play in yuh hair” would “make yuh hair fall out,” kind of like what jet beads are supposed to ward off. it was the nascent covetousness and all that supposedly came along with it that was supposedly dangerous to a young girl’s flowing mane. so this was highly discouraged. wisdom passing down from the mouths of mummies, mum-figures and other appointed gate keepers of little girls.

still, some of this inevitably fell on a few harden ears, as we un-braided and re-braided somebody’s plait at one time or the other, re-fashioned a woolie or a selection of hair-clips. somebody’s mummy was bound to be displeased when they got home. fun hair to style, was never hair like mine. it was something silky. something long.  something closer to what we styled on our barbies’ heads at home. even, ahem—all my black barbies. nary a kinky coil in sight on any of them.

and so i never swat a kid’s hand away from my hair—i smile at their excitement and i  try to hang around at least a little bit, to endure some random texture feels and impromptu hair fixing. like i am some giant dolly gone askew [without the requisite dimensions, painted on face and the like]. i know i’m no where as cool as these kids sometimes seem to think i am. my hair isn’t even that cool–or that special. but it’s extremely nice to see young black girls interested and excited in the potential of their own kind of natural hair.

trust me, you don’t see that happening a whole lot these days so when it does—it’s significant to me and quite refreshing to see. plus the little girls with relaxed tresses, while interested in me, in the capacity that i function in, they are decidedly less impressed with my hair, one even voicing loud disapproval after my last braids-with-extensions removal. interesting stuff. working with kids and the way in which they reflect society in their own kiddie ways. 

yes, i am not my hair and blah, blah, blah and all that stuff but in many ways—i am and that’s a-ok with me. for more adventures in black girl hair, google “natural hair blogs,” “black girl with long hair,” or peep the link below: 

http://blackgirllonghair.blogspot.com/

granted there are many excellent hair blogs out there; all good in a variety of ways. and i am by no stretch of imagination, a connoisseur of the entire range of them. this is just one that of late, i visit frequently and enjoy. this link really serves as a kind of validation and is really either for a) anyone who doubts the issues of black girl hair or questions the relevance of this post in relation to that or b) my own issues with staking a claim that there are black girl hair issues and putting it out there. again.

cause i kind of have before —– here,

gotta love the complexities of life y’all. and some days, i truly do.