Diasporic Realness is a Guest Writer’s Month dedicated to US telling our stories!
By: Anyiné of Afrolatina Natural
“Mommy, I hate my hair!”
A few years back, when my daughter Leila was five years old, she came home from school with a somber face. As usual, I asked about her day eager to hear another funny Kindergarten story. However, this time there was no typical ten minute long Kindergarten story full of long pauses, stutters and tangents. Instead I heard, “Mommy… I HATE my hair!”
The words spilled out of her mouth like boiling milk overflowing out of the pot right before you’re trying to turn off the heat. A wave of emotions flared up in my heart. In a matter of nanoseconds, I recalled the memory of myself coming home to my mom crying because kids in class said my hair was ugly. I could not believe it was happening all over again. Not to Leila… not to me.
I kept my cool and asked her why she felt this way.
Apparently, some kids in her classroom said her hair was ugly and puffy. I know kids can be cruel at times and that as parents we need to accept that we can’t always protect our children from others’ reactions to their obvious differences. But it was on! As my mom did 25 years earlier, I began some serious “You are beautiful the way God made you” self-esteem therapy sessions with Leila. As a girl of color, I was going to help her be strong in order to face a society that is still learning to embrace racial and cultural diversity. We read books about diversity & loving your hair. I even enrolled her in Afro-Caribbean dance lessons to help her get in touch with her African ancestry. I was determined that I was not going to be passive about this situation. I was going to come full force to help her build Super Afro-Latina Girl armor.
A year had passed after the I hate my hair incident.
“Mommy, why don’t you wear your hair curly like me?” asked Leila. Without much thought, I answered that my curls were not as pretty as hers and that I rather wear it straight. Then she replied convincingly, “But Mommy, God made your hair that way. You tell me I should love my hair just the way it is. You should love your hair the way it is too.” That’s when I realized that all the “Love yourself” lectures did not have much value if I did not show my daughter to love her natural beauty through actions. If I wanted my daughter to embrace her ethnicity as an Afro-Latina, I would have to set the example.
I agreed with Leila and so that is when my natural hair journey begins…
Leila, I dedicate this blog to you. Mommy loves you.
Anyiné (ann-yee-neh) also known as Angie is an Afro Latina with roots in Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Chicago. She is a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend and teacher. A year ago, she decided to go all natural and little did she know that going natural was more than letting her afro out… It has been a journey of self-acceptance, soul searching and embracing her true beauty inside and out. Follow her journey on Afrolatina Natural.
9 thoughts on “Diasporic Realness Guest Writer’s Month: My Hair/ Mi Pelo “Malo””
This experience and journey is powerful for afrolatin@s to share, as racialization continues being reproduced in the USA like there was no Civil Rights conquests. Like with workers victories of a century, the USA is going backwards in terms of affirmative action and workers rights. Trump’s popularity, the impunity of police brutality on black and brown poor folks, and the privatization of the public commons, calls on all of us afrolatin@s to raise consciousness about our right to survive culturally as well ad economically. The times are ripe for black people in USA, whether you are ethnically Caribbean or from USA, to decolonize our mindsets. Anyines’ s journey shows a way to confront this colonial racialization still oppressing our youth. Colorblindness is colonial and oppressive in most of the world, in the USA is criminal!
To share these experiences is one of the ways to combat invisibilization! We are here. Telling our stories and learning from each other. Thank you for your comment!
Thank you again for reaching out and having me as a guest writer on your blog. I appreciate what you are doing and all the amazing writing pieces you share on your blog about Afrolatinidad.
Thank you José for the reflection on my piece. I appreciate you reading it and making a connection to current times in the USA.
I love this story!!!!
Thank you for reading it!
I enjoyed your entry. It is paramount that we set the first example to our children when teaching them about self love and our roots. I’m glad that your daughter inspired you to start your natural hair journey.
Thank you for reading! It’s still an on going struggle as she continues to develop her self identity. However, I’m glad I made that step to help her along the journey as well as learn more about myself.
Thank you for sharing my story!!!