Monthly Archives: May 2014

Dr MAYA ANGELOU – an inspirational woman.

One day I intend to write a blog post on black role models.  When we were bringing up our boys, I suppose we concentrated more on male role models.

Now that we have a beautiful black granddaughter, I shall also be thinking of black female role models.  I know there are many, but today I am thinking especially of Maya Angelou, who died on 28th May  2014.  She was an award-winning author, renowned poet and civil rights activist.  She had such a full life, triumphing over early trauma and poverty.

There have been many eloquent words written about Dr. Maya Angelou.  I simply want to say that I have loved her books and feel full of gratitude to her, for the books, for her poetry , the example of her life and her wise words.

Here are some of her books from my bookshelf.

Maya AngelouRiP Maya Angelou.

Jah’s hair and hair in general.

When I went out with Jah into the city centre of Leicester, not only did I receive criticism about his name, but also about his hair, his matted locks – again always from black people.

Jah and hobby horse

“You should have his hair cut.”  They sometimes clicked their teeth with disapproval, or shook their heads.

These comments were hard to deal with.  We spoke to our social worker, but she was reluctant to broach the matter of Jah’s hair with his birth father.  In those days we expected that the adoption process could begin fairly soon.  She didn’t want to annoy him or do anything that would delay his signature.

One could write at length about hair.  There must be plenty of magazines that feature hair.  I suppose that some people with luscious hair are happy about that.  However, my observation is that many people wish their hair would be different.  Often curly-haired people say they would prefer straight hair and vice-versa.

I remember attending a family wedding, where about five young teenagers were present. They all normally had curly hair, but someone had brought a hair-straightener with them and one by one each teenager appeared with unusually straight hair. I expect they enjoyed the experience of feeling different. Personally I missed their naturally curly locks.  I thought they looked much prettier before.

My daughter-in-law tells me that her mother told all her daughters that their hair is their crowning glory.  I like that positive approach to Afro-Caribbean hair.  And I love the beautiful and varied hairstyles they adopt.

images_006 

cornrow plaits

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some people view Afro-Caribbean hair with less enthusiasm.  They record the struggle they have had over tangled hair and the long process of having the hair put in plaits. – a process that can take at least a couple of hours.  Fortunately Mia, our granddaughter – Sam’s daughter – is quite happy about the plaiting, as she is allowed to watch a dvd during the process and she LOVES watching films!

My short, straight hair can only be varied when it is newly cut. It progresses through the following phases:-

  • Short, newly-cut and smart  (I like to think)
  • OK. Settling down (I like to think)
  • Looks fairly good (I like to think)
  • Suddenly gets straggly and looks urgently in need of trimming (I know!)

During our early days with Jah we made an exciting discovery.  There was a group called “Harmony” that had been formed to give support to multiracial families, both adoptive and natural.  We found their meetings so helpful.  I can see now that any foster parents of black or mixed-race children should have automatically been given to information on hair and skin care.  I hope they are given this information today. We had to find out things bit by bit.  We were fortunate to have eventually discovered the Harmony group.

Harmony badge

One family we met at a Harmony meeting had done well with their daughter’s hair.  They had a friend who showed them how to do cornrow plaiting.  I was glad that Sam and Jah were boys and could get away without having their hair plaited, although of course I knew that some boys did choose to have complicated hairstyles.

Here is a book that I think sounds fun and would be enjoyable.  (Usually I do not like to suggest that a book is to be recommended mainly for girls or mainly for boys, but in this case I think this book would appeal more to girls)  Princess Katrina and the Hair Charmer, by Christina Shingler [Illustrated by Derek Brazell] [Paperback]  Tamarind Books

Christina Shinglerhttp://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1870516680/ref=rdr_ext_tmb (Author), Derek Brazell (Illustrator)

I have seen the following information about “Happy Hair UK”. It was published on an interesting blog – Mixed Race Family.  See below, with Elizabeth White’s permission:

Mixed Race Family  http://mixedracefamilies.blogspot.co.uk/

For global people who are mixed race, belong to a mixed race family, are starting a mixed race family or who are from the global human race and are interested in learning more about the experiences of global mixed race families.

 

Happy Hair UK

mixed-race girl's hair

Happy Hair UK’s  mission is to make every child with Afro/Mixed (Kinky to Curly) hair feel happy with their hair. To make Afro/Mixed hair manageable using natural products whilst keeping hair care to a high standard. We want to make Black/Mixed children’s hair care accessible in all areas of the UK. And if it cannot be accessed to provide tips, advice and support.
We will achieve this by hosting free events to promote and educate people about black/mixed hair care.”

I’ll be back soon with news about Jah’s hair.

Jah’s name continued. Little progress on the adoption front. Then an interesting proposition.

To update readers on Jah’s choice of name, following the criticism we received for continuing to use this special name.

He was keen to add a second name and liked the sound of Joshua.  He gradually adopted that name.  However, for the purpose of this blog, I shall continue to refer to him as Jah.

Of course there was no question of him being able to use our family surname.  That could only happen once a formal adoption order had been granted. He was old enough to understand that.

Adoption procedures

We appeared to have come up against a big administrative block, caused by the disappearance of Jah’s birth mother.  However, the local authority Social Services Department did what they could.  They appointed a solicitor and she came to visit us.  She explained to us again that – although reluctant to do this – they would eventually go ahead and grant the order without the birth mother’s signature if they could not find her.  She seemed to be very impressed by the barrister the authority planned to use.

The case was going to be heard in the High Court of the land – The Royal Courts of Justice, because he was a ward of the court.

Royal Courts of JusticeSo far so good. . .  Then the solicitor went on extended maternity leave.  This was good news for the solicitor, but It didn’t feel like such good news for Jah, as no replacement solicitor came to take on the case. Months passed. Nothing happened or was said about a date for the anticipated adoption order.

We were left with a small boy who wanted to be “properly ‘dopted” before he started school in September. This began to look increasingly unlikely. However, our job was to help him to settle and not to dwell on problems.

Then we received an interesting letter from my brother and sister-in-law.  They asked: Would we be able to have our nephew to stay for a period of about three months?

Robert, our nephew, was ten years old.  He was academically far ahead of his schoolmates in Sweden and getting a bit bored at school.  His parents thought that it would be good for him to come over to England, to attend a local school and spend time with our family.  This would mean that our household would consist of three young boys and two teenage daughters.  It would also mean that there would be special times to plan and enjoy.  Naturally we would want to show Robert some of our best tourist attractions in London and in the countryside around Leicester.

We had rarely visited London as a family and there were many places we wanted the children to see.  We would all benefit in many ways.

We hoped that Robert’s  visit would take Jah’s mind off the slow progress on the adoption front and all looked forward to his arrival.