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.
“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.
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.
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
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.