A young African American woman shares a story that has been a hot topic in the news recently, natural hair in the workplace. She talks of her memories being a little girl and getting her hair combed by her mother on Sunday night, no chemicals just natural, that’s all you need. But as a child she didn’t understand why the other little black girls had straight hair like the pretty white girls. Because in her young eyes white was beautiful, black was not and she didn’t have anything that she could find in them that was also in her. Instead of looking inwards or to her mother as an example of beauty she continued to look outside. As she grew into herself, she gained an understanding of black hair and the pride that her mother was trying to instill in her. As she sits in an interview where she is the only black person, she is excited for this moment. She is prepared, she interviews well, she nailed it. To find out weeks later that while everyone believed she was the best interviewee they didn’t think her Afro puff was the kind of representation they wanted for their company. This is a coming of age story where one little girl becomes a woman and still must accept racism is still alive and well, it just presents itself in very different ways.
When I was a little girl there were a few things that were constant. The first: every Sunday morning we went to church as a family. The second: my mother did not believe in putting any chemicals in our hair. It always bothered me, every Sunday night my mother sat my sister and I down, side-by-side and she untangled, and used natural oil to comb our hair. “If you needed anything extra God would have given it to you,” she’d say. You have never known pain if you have never been black with natural hair, it was a chore and our mother was clearly the hair goddess. But when it was all said and done we had the most perfect parts, beautiful braids and barrettes that a little girl, a little black girl could imagine. I didn’t appreciate it when I was younger but as I got older, I started to notice that my hair was different from the other little black girls in our neighborhood. Their hair was straight and mine never was. When I begin to search for my example of beauty, I didn’t know where it was. Now that I’m older I realize I should’ve been looking at home first. Credit should have been going to my mother, the most natural and beautiful woman I’ve ever known.