Thursday, October 11, 2012

What's Wrong With My Son's Afro?

Xavier in all his Afro glory in a boxing stance, and with his hair in cornrows.
We sent Xavier to daycare with his Afro puff yesterday and when we picked him up, he had cornrows. I was a tad startled since no one had asked if it was okay to change the child's hair, but I was also shocked that he sat still long enough to even get that done.
So what's the issue? I have no problem with cornrows (I rock em myself on occasion) and I've had his Godmother Khadeen do said style before. The issue is the teacher who put these in had made a comment to my husband on Friday about us cutting off or taming the child's wild hair.
Now, as a black woman who recently stopped using chemicals to straighten my hair and started wearing my hair in it's natural state, I know that "wild" is code for nappy aka bad hair and I take major issues with that. In my culture, we also don't cut a child's hair before their first birthday so cutting said Afro is not an option for now.
Here's the deal, I want my son to grow up feeling like his hair in its natural state, is perfectly fab. I want him to know that when he gets older, rocking an Afro, cornrows, a mohawk or shaving it all will be perfectly fine.
So today I'm trying to craft the conversation I'll have with this teacher when I pick him up this evening. It'll be a delicate task because she's the only black teacher at the school and she'll in fact be his teacher in a few weeks when he turns a year-old. In other words, I'm not trying to piss this woman off and cause some major rift because I really do like this school. I know her intentions were good, but I need for her to also understand that there's nothing wild and untamed about his Afro and that she'll need to get used to seeing it on occasion when he moves up to her class. 
Who knew hair could be such a delicate issue! Any advice on how to tackle this mini UN moment?

15 comments :

  1. OMG your son is so precious, with and without the afro! His hair IS perfectly fab. I definitely commend you for speaking to the teacher about this. Regardless of race, she is promoting the notion that we should be ashamed of the way God made us (whether she realizes this or not). Also, proud of you for embracing your natural hair! You are a beautiful woman!
    Good luck! Let us know how it goes. :)

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  2. His afro is PERFECT! Don't let anybody tell him otherwise!

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  3. Well, since she's black there (hopefully) will be a baseline of understanding. I'd start with acknowledging that you know she was coming from a "good place" and trying to help, letting her know about your own natural hair journey and that your son's hair is a deliberate cultural choice (as opposed to the result of neglect), and that you want your son to be secure in his blackness, in whatever form it takes, so if she could please help you to support an environment of positivity around topics like his hair and skintone, that would be appreciated. You're the smooth talker, make her your ally.

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  4. You honestly don't need to explain much to her, i would thank her for taking the time to do his hair but would kindly ask her to consult you first before exploring any styles on YOUR child! I don't believe that if asked in a kind way it would stir up any negative vibes, but at the end of the day she should have never touched his hair without asking first. That's pretty bold.

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  5. TOTALLY UNCALLED FOR. I would be irate...then I do have a temper and need to be held back....MC is good at that!!!She had no right to touch or change Xavier's hair without consulting you!
    Xavier is so precious! Children don't need added "pressures"!

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  6. Niks...I'm trying to control myself because I know this is a PG blog but what the HELL!!!!!! I would so like to be a fly on the wall when you have that conversation with her. Also, I think this would be a good time to mention that if your child's appearance will be altered in anyway (no matter how small) from how he was dropped off that you need to be notified before it's done. What if got headaches from having his hair braided that's why it was never done? SMH

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  7. I think approaching her with compassion for her insecurities and lack of intercultural diversity and exposure is the way to go. She is clearly not plugged in to much outside of the daycare center regime and the children and staff offer which is limited to simple survival and structure. As a mom, I would have found this quite intrusive and disrespectful, but you always have to consider the source. How does she wear he hair, live her life...etc. Ask her in a diplomatic way why you should consider her an authority on air or anythingelse for that matter. Bring her some books to red her class about hair...I love my hair is a great one!

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  8. She's wayyyy out of line. Period. To take it upon herself to change a child's hairstyle that is NOT hers. Ummm, that is a lot of nerve! It's not the school's policy. It was HER beliefs. I'm glad you're talking to her, because who knows what she might try next. I would also personally document this, in case something else occurs. I can't believe people!
    http://www.averysweetblog.com/

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  9. I strongly agree with you!! I am struggling through something similar with my daughter who has wild, curly frizzy hair....she hates it and wants straight hair....I have the same hair and used to blow dry out a lot to have it straight and ever since I noticed this in my daughter I leave it natural more often so she learns that having curly hair is actually beautiful....she needs to be happy and comfortable in her own skin. Approach the teacher nicely but let her know that was not ok to do without asking your permission and talking to you about it first. He is sooo cute!

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  10. Personally, I love the Afro puff! So adorable...Thank you for becoming a part of the Snob Mob! ;D You've got a new fan too. Are you a part of the Olioboard community yet? If so, let me know what your username is. I love to Live, Laugh, Decorate too, so nice to meet you. Have a super weekend.

    Jane Gianarelli the Snob

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  11. I agree with you, I had a similar situation where my son left my home with his hair out and came home with cornrows, my provider didn't make that sort of comment to me though. Good luck with that conversation, I hope it goes well!

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  12. Xavier is such a treasure....ah the challenges of mothering, there will be so many more, but the liberties taken are clearly out of line and should be addressed. You will be educating the teacher as well as the staff with your embracing and acceptance of your hair, your son's natural beauty and your ability to articulate the boundaries of their role. Now when you mentioned mohawk I must say that has been a tough one for me, my youngest has sported one several times and has a handful of tatoo's...you get the picture...he is a darling but visuals are a reality and we all have our own comfort level...

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  13. The teacher was ignorant and out of line. But she is/will be your child's care taker for the majority of the day for a long time. Xavier is your precious angel. I wouldn't risk your child's well being so you can be right and educate her. (What do I know,though? I'm a white mother/grandmother.) Good luck!

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  15. WOW!
    She was definitely out of line! She shouldn't have braided his hair and she def shouldn't have made those comments!

    - Marissa
    www.shabbychicandcheap.com

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