Why don’t you cut his hair? What do his teachers say? Will his hair be a distraction to his classmates? Does he want to cut his hair? Why won’t you at least braid it?
These are just some of the questions I am asked when Zavi, the mighty 3-year-old wears his hair out in all of his natural glory. Most times I don’t take offense to the questions unless it is coming from a judgmental place. The truth is simple. I like his hair. His daddy likes hair. It’s the only hair he’s ever known.
The idea of a child’s afro being a topic of discussion never really occurred to me until recently. I’m sure you’ve heard of schools suspending or even dismissing African American students for wearing their hair in what people consider “ethnic” styles. So where do I stand?
Well, I will not allow anyone else’s biases to color what I deem suitable for my child. I could go into this completely detailed, appropriate and deep tirade about how we have been conditioned to believe that the “European standards of beauty” is the only measure of beauty we should strive toward but nope. My stance is simple. My son is beautiful and the hair that comes out of his head is beautiful too.
I am hoping that people stop putting what they deem “inappropriate” onto children.
I could braid Zavier’s hair everyday (I don’t know how to braid so there’s that) but why should I? Because it makes others more comfortable? When his hair is braided, it is usually to save time in the mornings not because we don’t want to “offend” anyone with his hair or stop someone from learning.
Our thought process in life is basically show people how to treat you. That means that even Zavier has the power to normalize his hair. When he wears it out, his classmates don’t blink an eye. Why? Because they are used to it It’s not a surprise. They know Zavier’s hair. Zavier even knows how to say, “Please don’t touch my hair” if someone pulls it. He has learned to teach other people how he wants to be treated.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it. When he was in his 2-year-old class, some kids did like to pull his hair and the teacher informed us of what was happening. But never once did we consider cutting or “braiding down” his hair to avoid other kids from touching it. Eventually, his classmates got over his hair and never bothered him again.
Am I trying to raise a radical child? Not at all. Do I want him to be affirmed as a strong brown boy who should be proud of how God made him? Hell yes.
We have been in plenty of spaces where we are not the “majority.” We are used to the looks. For the most part, people just smile and some even come up to say how they love his hair. That’s great. We do draw the line at people just grabbing his hair. It’s happened one too many times and every single time I correct that behavior. It comes with the territory but again, we have to constantly teach people how to treat us.
Zavier is enrolled in a prep school right now. It’s his protected bubble. Everyone knows him and loves him. He will be there for two more years. I will be honest, I am a little apprehensive about when he goes to “big school” but with everything in life, we will cross that bridge when we get to it.
I do know this. We do not currently have plans to cut his hair just to go to kindergarten. Now if he says he wants to cut his hair in the future, of course, it will happen. Or if he gets an incredible case of “split ends” – then we will cut it. But it will never be because we don’t think it fits into a school “dress code.”
We aren’t doing that. Dress codes, especially addressing hair, weren’t traditionally created to embrace African Americans as a whole anyway but that’s another post for another day.
Zavier is a smart kid. The kids around will hopefully be smart enough to just move a little to the left if they can’t see the board. It’s not about defiance. It’s about setting your own standards.
I am not against a cut, I am just against the idea that it must be cut to conform to other people’s idea of what’s suitable. I usually get the side eye from older people but I have to take in account the era in which they grew up. I try to keep that in mind most times but please believe that anybody can get these hands from the ages of 8-80 if they step to Zavi wrong about his hair. (Where did that come from? LOL)
And let’s be clear… his hair is FIRE!!!!