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All Is Fair In Love And Hair

Doing Hair

For most people, there is no one they love like they love their mom. The bond between a mother and a child is truly special. I know I hold my mom in seriously high regard. As a kid, I had to compete with my brothers and sisters for my mom’s attention. But my mom had no competition for my attention. Dad and I didn’t get along very well at all. He was a too strict disciplinarian and felt that I was onerous. One day he went so far as to suggest that I was some form of subhuman. So trust me when I say that the relationship with my mom was truly unique. There isn’t much that I wouldn’t do for her.

My mom hates my hair. I’ll walk into her presence and all she can see are my locks. Without anything to prompt her, my mom will start complaining. “Why don’t you cut your hair?” I’ll look at the clock and I’ll retort with something like, “Looks like we’re ahead of schedule today!” She’ll continue undaunted, “You would look so much better if you’d cut your hair.” “I think I look pretty good now.” “But you need to set an example.” “I’m trying to set an example to black people that we don’t have to conform.” “But can’t you do it and look nice like everybody else at the same time?”

My mom is seriously old school. She’ll be eighty years old this year. She started losing her children to the Locked Side about fifteen years ago when my baby brother started locking his hair in his sophomore year in college. All of us, including me, tried to talk him out of it for the sake of his professional career. But he ended up postponing his pursuit of a professional career and dropped out of college for a while. He continued to grow his locks in more of a Rasta style, kind of puffy and naturally bleached by the sun. A few years later I started twisting my hair. And then one of my nephews started his locks. And finally another one of my brother’s started his locks.

Since then baby brother cut his locks off and became very professional. He got a degree and is doing very well in his career. His locks were thirteen years old when he cut them off. The fashion statement had worn itself out. My nephew wanted to get a retail job and thought it best to cut his hair if he wanted to expand his career opportunities.

As I write this the only other person in the family who continues to wear locks is my brother. He started growing his locks about a month before I got my last haircut. His hair could have been longer but he keeps his trimmed to a particular length. His girlfriend wears locks as well. When they first met she did the permed hair thing and all that like most black women in the corporate work environment. The woman would spend a good hour each morning trying to do her hair up in what everybody learned was proper fashion for black women. One day she started locking her hair. She was shocked to actually see how much time she was spending doing something she hated doing.

I had sacrificed my hair as part of my Yemonja initiation. After three years without a haircut my locks have grown to a pretty good length although they have yet to touch my shoulders. I try to get it touched up every two weeks. However, sometimes it’ll be as long as four weeks in between touch ups. I do my best to take care of my locks because I like for them to look good uniform and neat. But the way my mom would tell the story you’d think I was some kind of male Medusa with snake heads hissing about. And unlike my brother who only sees my mom once in a blue moon, I made the choice to put myself in front of my mom on a daily basis. Our routine has become practically a daily ritual.

I’ve tried to explain to my mom that my hair is not just a choice of fashion. For the longest time black people who do everything they can to conform to the rules of being black as defined by conservative white people will get better employment opportunities and more frequent employment opportunities if they just submit and profess their acquiescence to the dominant system. Black people should understand that they can be proud of their ethnicity and their inherent natural appearance and still earn a living as a professional. I would like other people in the black community to see that we can be black as defined by the black community and still be professionally employed.

Mom doesn’t hear me talk about black people developing a new understanding of ourselves. Yes we need liberation from the mind of the dominant culture. Just having a black man going to his job and wearing his hair in an ethnic style primarily unique to black people could give others the inspiration to step outside of the artificial boundaries that the establishment has setup around the black community. We don’t always have to be a rocket scientist or the first black astronaut to be an inspiration to others. Sometimes we could simply be the man next door who wears locks and works as a database application developer. Black people breaking walls don’t just happen on television it happens right in the neighborhood. We all can do a little something to help inspire each other in the black community.

But mom remains undaunted. She’ll say something like, but don’t we need to look presentable while we do it? Why would anybody want to wear their hair all locked up and looking like mice could be living up there? It bothers me to see you with your hair like that. If you loved me you’d cut it. I love my mother very much. I’m pretty sure my mom knows I’d do just about anything for her. For mom, I’d run right into the deepest hell of black people subjugation and back. I would do anything for love. But I won’t do that.

Thursday, August 14, 2008 Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Hair, Life, Thoughts | 12 Comments