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Black girl hair and bullying…and affirmations (Racial Battle Fatigue Part II)

Black girl hair magic ….

Eva Luna, 6.

Eva Luna, 6.

Eva Luna, 6.

This morning Eva Luna told me again that the same two girls at school continue to tell her that her hair is stupid, that straight hair is “easier” and “looks better”. She was upset about doing her hair again this morning because she didn’t want it to look ‘stupid’ and be made fun of. It looks like I am going to have to repeat to her to love her self as well as her hair and try to explain anti blackness that many kids have learned . It is a difficult talk to have with a six year old but at the end, we did her hair “like mama” and she was happy again. She was also tentative about putting the Alaffia curl enhancer leave in conditioner in her hair because she told me that the kids make fun of the smell and that her hair may often look ‘wet’ and some tell her it is ‘gross’. I told her that this is super magical and that there is geranium oil in it and mommy puts tea tree oil in it so she doesn’t get lice like many kids.

…and to think, my mom and dad had to remind me everyday that I am beautiful, as well as smart despite the white kids in my all white school system teasing me about my “nigger do”, or teasing me that my hair looked ‘gross’ for putting traditional butters and creams in it… I was 6 in 1982… And in 2018 I am doing the same with my 6 year old….and it shouldn’t be this way still….

…and then there is my 8 year old son, who has long hair and and bullied and teased for his gender expression of wanting to identify as a boy who wears long hair pulled back in a pony tail. These everyday talks of empowerment for kids are essential and I remember it was the same talks and affirmations that my parents gave to me and my brother to get us through the racial hostility of the Reagan years and to convince us that we were smart and beautiful (inside and out).

Many adults didn’t like my mom because she called oppression out immediately. She didn’t hold back and would tell teachers and parents if they were being racist as well as holding on to ridiculous gender stereotypes. My twin brother played the flute and was a cheerleader. Several man teachers were annoyed that he didn’t play soccer or basketball like “real boys”. Mom and dad supported us and didn’t bow down. I was so blessed to have had that support and foundation.

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