One of my aunts recently said to me ‘when you get married, make sure to choose a black man with good hair or a white man. You don’t want your kids to have tough kinky hair you won’t be able to manage.'
It’s appalling to hear people within our own community saying this type of things. It shows how difficult it still is for many of us to embrace and celebrate our black features.
As a kid, there weren’t many black people in my primary school, as many of the students were white or Asians with relatively straight hair. I was aware of my difference, because of my skin color obviously but also because of my hair, which was noticeably standing out.
Strangely, having my schoolfriends commenting on my hair or touching it didn’t bother me at the time. I knew I stood out and all this attention looked like a form of acceptance to me. I felt accepted in an environment where I knew I didn’t fit in, an environment where staff and teachers would say racist things to us on a day to day basis.
Secondary school was a completely different experience as I was now evolving into a place where I was surrounded by black people, a place where black girls were all wearing weaves or relaxing their hair. I ended up doing the same, enjoying people’s compliments, enjoying the praise I got from my peers.
Today I know that if I straighten my hair it’s because I want to do it. I won't do it because I want to maintain a certain appearance, to come across a certain way or to please a group of people. I will do it for me!
And if I decide to leave my hair curly, the exact same reason will hide behind this decision. It’s just a matter of choice, really.