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“YOUR HAIR IS UGLY,” SAID THE KID TO MY KID.

Your first reaction was to go right up to the school and give that child a good whop. However, you had enough good sense to know that going ham on a five-year-old would only land you in jail. No, there had to be a better way. But what exactly do you do when your child tells you that one of her classmates doesn’t want to be her friend because, in the classmates’ words: “your hair is ugly!” You don’t even let your child say the word ‘ugly.’

Oh, and you know exactly which little girl said it too. At five, she’s a year older than your kid and everyday a babysitter picks her up from school with earphones on. They can be seen blocks away from the school walking in silence. It’s doubtful the babysitter even knows she’s there.
This isn’t the first time this little girl’s name has come up. Not long ago, she was fighting over the pink bean bag. Apparently, there’s only one in the class that color and homegirl feels like she should have it everyday. You’re starting to wonder if this kid is a bully, which makes sense because who says that to someone with a straight face?

Well, someone with a lot of hair hate but that’s a whole nother story. You don’t want to get into the fact that the kid is a light-skinned Puerto Rican with nappy hair so in her circles she’s probably a disgrace. It would be surprising if the hair conversations in her household center around the beauty of natural hair or the fact that everyone’s hair is different and beautiful just the same. And you’re not saying that she’s the only one. Once you and your daughter were at a laundromat in Atlanta when a little girl around her same age with braids down to her ankles looked at your daughter bewildered. “What’s wrong with her hair?” she asked her mommy in disgust. You could sense the woman’s embarrassment, but what else could she expect when she and all of her kids, there were at least three more, looked like they had robbed a weave truck? It clearly sends a message that long hair is in, and anything to the contrary can’t happen by choice. People start getting very “well-meaning” when they see a little girl with short Afro hair. In fact, a few have come right up to you and offered the number of their hair braider. One lady offered to pay. Anything to help you fix it. Just don’t let that child walk around with a short ‘fro that makes her look like a boy.

But if only they had seen the schoolgirls in the Ivory Coast, where your husband is from, so strikingly beautiful with their chocolate skin and short cropped hair. If not for them, you too might be clinging to braids as the only way your short-haired daughter might have a shot at a normal life. It’s funny how we only see the beauty in what we’ve been trained to see. So back to this kid. What do you do because this situation ain’t cool?

You call your mom who is not pleased. It reminds her of that day at the laundromat in ATL with the little girl. It was you who had to calm her down by telling her that the child didn’t know any better- it’s the parents. Which actually gives you an idea. “Should I confront her mother?” you ask your mom. She quickly kills that idea, reminding you of the time she almost came to blows with a mom who was talking stuff. With all the neighborhood kids egging her on, you included, she went to the house of this single mother of eight to defend your brother’s honor. Her son was supposedly picking on your brother, which somehow culminated into the two women talking about each other, which lead to your mother going to the woman’s house for a showdown. Only thing is, ma didn’t realize that the woman was 300 lbs. She almost pooped her pants as she stood in the woman’s living room, trying to remember why she was there. Fortunately, the woman didn’t want to fight any more than your mom. But it sure was a close call. “Why don’t you just talk to the teacher?” she suggests.

The next day, you tell Ms. P. what the little girl said to your daughter and she confirms that it’s not a good idea to talk to her mom. For one, parents generally don’t like hearing from other parents regarding their kid, and two, one can never predict a parent’s personality. Things could easily escalate. “Okay, so what then?” She says the best thing to do would be to introduce some books to the class that address acceptance and diversity. After, they can discuss it. Her solution doesn’t sound nearly as proactive as going upside the child’s head and then taking down her mom. The next morning, you come to class armed and ready. To read one of your daughter’s favorite books called, ‘I Like Myself,’ about a little girl so filled with self-love that she doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. Hopefully, it will help.

This article first appeared on MommyNoire

By Erickka Sy Savané

3 Comments
  • Susan
    January 1, 2015

    Love the premise of “I Like Myself.” We also need to photobomb the internet with beautiful pics of natural hair… right? And what does “looking like a boy” actually mean?!?! Are we this simple of a nation that we only have one definition of beautiful? Come on peeps… LET’S EVOLVE. And let’s start with the chillrenzzzz…

    • Erickka Sy Savané
      January 2, 2015

      AMEN!!!

  • Shirleen
    February 7, 2015

    This was a great article on tolerance and understanding. I would encourage you to keep reading those stories and even if you can bring in a slide show of beautiful girls and women on the Ivory Coast and anywhere you find beautiful girls of color. They’ll remember. You have already made an impact in their lives. Thank you!

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