Natural Legacy: Black History Month

The New International Civil Rights Center Museum

Today marks the first day of Black History Month & while I do want to update and post about the goings on related to all things hair & product, my heart wants so desperately to share something entirely different…if only for today.

Black History Month is a time that I hold dear for reasons – too numerous to count. Author & blogger Lori L. Tharps has a great post up today mapping out a great & easy strategy to enjoying the rest of this month, which has me especially giddy with anticipation because I am certainly not the only one.

I can’t be the only one who enjoys the influx of culture and historical lessons all smashed up for us to ingest in 28 short days.  You have the Times today devoting a piece to the newly christened International Civil Rights Center Museum in Greensboro, N.C., and so many other outlets taking part to commemorate such an important mark in history.

Personally, I do feel it is a celebration, and not one made of  traditional markings of hats, balloons & presents.  The rewards granted towards all people of color are felt each and every day, I feel it each time I walk into work – get on a plan to see my parents – on Nov 2008 when I woke up at 5 a.m. to make a quiet, distinctive walk with neighbors to the voting hall.

It’s that feeling…that is so very welcomed and embraced each time this year.

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A truly beautiful piece in the Washington Post yesterday had me near tears. A mother of two remarks on the rituals of combing her daughter’s hair.

Soon now, these days will be gone from me. As I settle myself on the couch, my 11-year-old daughter, Savannah, brings me her hair basket: comb, water bottle, hair grease, barrettes. She plants herself on the floor, squarely between my knees, and I begin my work. There’s the everyday hair-doing, but wash day takes more time, and slowly I separate the thick, kinky tangle growing from her head. I rub in a dollop of grease — Kemi Oyl or root stimulator lotion, but mostly just dark blue Ultra Sheen (I like the standards) — to make the hair obedient, and part it into sections, clipping each firmly to her head.

My hands are slower and gentler now than they were when she was younger and I was younger, with a career to chase, and an older daughter who had her own head of hair for me to do, and another baby yet to come.

Sometimes, if I was pressed for time, I could get by with a few surface brush strokes and a liberal application of gel to make the girls passably presentable, but it took 20 minutes of work to make them look special. Twenty minutes to make them feel pretty so that neighbors would comment on the straightness of their parts. Twenty minutes to be reassured that I’d sent my children into the world making clear that they were valued and loved. Twenty minutes. Every day. Minimum. Apiece. For me to feel assuaged that if one day, please, God, no, they suddenly disappeared, I could persuade the 24-hour cable networks that my girls really were worthy enough to be news– because, after all, black mothers can’t recall a time where missing black women and children got national media attention.

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2 Comments to “Natural Legacy: Black History Month”

  1. awww..I thought that article was so sweet!

  2. This is a beautiful article. I can totally relate to the author speaking of trying to rush thru doing her daughter’s hair. I look back and wished I had taken more time on my daughter’s hair also. From time to time, I get to do her hair. Although, she mostly wants to wear it straight, I do at least still get that time.

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