Our hair

Over ten years ago I chose to stop applying straightening chemicals to my hair. I am not sure if it’s because my father constantly told me that the lye in the products was slowing cooking my brains or if I was just tired of the constant upkeep. I started to wear my hair in its natural state. I was surprised by how much people had to say about that.  Some said that they admired my bravery. Some viewed it as a sign of financial hardship. Yet others thought I was being rebellious. Suddenly I was confronted with a reality that how I wore my hair meant something to a lot of people and none of them really cared if their assumptions were inaccurate. They all had a stake yet none of they contributed to the upkeep of this ‘community hair’.  That is how a personal choice become a social or even political statement.

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I am not my hair or am I?

A couple of weeks ago I participated in wonderful event known as Headwarps in the Park. It brought vendors, artists, musicians and mostly natural beauty enthusiasts together resulting a very vibrant atmosphere. This whole event was built around the practice of African women warping their heads.  The recent resurgence of the appreciation of natural African beauty, fashion and music greatly influenced this event. Preparing for that event had me thinking a lot about hair and head coverings. How the way we choose to wear our hair seems to impact us and others in so many different ways. The next few weeks will feature sketches and stories that explore this idea.

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drunk descending a staircase, in high heels

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you

skipped steps
in your descent

lost time
lunging

oops, oh
there you go

he’s alright
she’s alright

we’re all alright
but down you come

down we
all come

eventually

Inspired by Kijo from https://kijopoem.wordpress.com/

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/129911722/posts/3144

Not lost in translation

I have never been one to jump into a fight. I generally eschew pain and bruises. Some may see that as cowardly but from a very young age I learned that there were two other options diplomacy or flight. You know, live to fight another day and so on and so forth.

Now for the most epic battle ever. Not even. I was nine years old running around in the sand filled playground at my Schule in the Berlin one brisk morning. We would line up at the foot of the ladder and climb up then slide down shrieking in delight. I remember that day I was wearing my favorite bright orange parka trimmed with brown fur. I run around the slide to the ladder and waited as my classmate climbed up to the top. I followed suit and started the climb.

Just as I reached halfway up the ladder, I felt a tug on the hood of my parka. It was so hard and abrupt I was disoriented for a moment. I barely broke my fall with my elbows when I hit the sand. The entire playground froze. They waited to see my reaction, would I let out a loud cry? My eyes started to well up with tears as I scanned the playground looking for a sympathetic face. Then I saw him out of the corner of my eyes, snickering with the other boys. The culprit. The author of my humiliation. I would show him. I sprang up and landed the hardest punch I could muster squarely on the side of his head. He yelled out and started to cry while his friends stared in horror. I too was shocked at his reaction, he was the one who always made others cry.

To my surprise I was not reprimanded by the teacher. My fellow classmates told me how grateful they were that I had stood up to the bully. It wasn’t something I was proud of since I was typically an agreeable and quiet child. I was also afraid that he would retaliate one day. So I was quite shocked when I was invited to his birthday party a few weeks later. And from that day onward we became good friend.

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