A woman (with a lot less melanin than I have, to put it mildly) felt the need to share with me an amusing (to her) little anecdote about the time her curly-haired daughter decided to “dreadlock” her hair. At the time, I was taking her payment for her physical therapy visit; not waiting for the next subway train. While she shared her story, she pointed to my hair, which she’d just complimented (I think?). I told her that I am considering locs at the moment, but that my own hair is only in twists. I went on to say the reason behind my delay is that I haven’t learned enough about caring for locked hair as yet. She responded with a nervous laugh, and said that yes, she could clearly see now that my hair was twisted and not locked, and that she wasn’t “as stupid as” she may have sounded, sincerely and apologetically.
I know that I could have responded with a rolled eye and judgmental thought that white women just don’t understand… But I choose to believe this woman was only trying to fit in, which is a universal sentiment. She was smiling; and she probably felt somewhat awkward approaching me, since she only knows me as “the woman at the front desk.”
The texture of our hair is the only real delineation between African-ancestral people and all other races. It is the determining factor, still, if someone’s race is in question. I believe that woman was looking for a way to connect with what may be the only Black woman she “knows” and sought my approval for her mildly-offensive comment. I don’t know if that was my only opportunity to educate her about our natural hair, and moreover, our Experience; but I know it wasn’t the right venue. It shows me, however, that the desire for open dialogue is present; and we must seize the opportunity to further bridge the chasm that exists between women of color and “women of lesser color”, instead of finding more reasons to feel offended.
I don’t know about you… but for some time, I’d felt a certain level of discomfort; an annoyance gently prodding me to grow. I could no longer deny my own existence — the woman I was to become. As I tried to ignore her, she would subtly make herself known. I’d revisit a goal I had desired to reach in my youth. I’d buy yet another craft project that I had no time to learn or complete. I’d get lost in the aisles of public libraries and bookstores, chasing random professional pursuits simply because I could read about them, and because they sounded better than my own. And I would pour over magazines, cutting out meaningful pictures and words to place in my Vision Book. (I had way too many thoughts for a Vision Board!) I didn’t know that the Book had gradually become a distraction, as opposed to the muse it was intended to be, until the day I lost my “portable” version, and once again — sans distraction — began to move toward The Vision. Read more