SOL March 8th The Hair Post

Black women who write know that it’s hard to get around not talking about hair. Our hair, others’ hair; long, straight, kinky, short, relaxed, natural, fake, real.

This morning I woke up to the mess I allowed to form over night. I pulled off the one elastic band holding it in a poof ball that could never be likened to a pony’s tail but language shows its limits all the time. I grabbed a section at a time, gently combing out the ends. There’s lots of breakage but it’s easy going, no real struggle. In moments I have created an impressive mane complete with thin silvery streaks. The ends are not quite long enough to touch my shoulders and the mass of it fans out to the sides. There’s so much hair and yet it is light and fluffy; a miracle in its own right.

For a moment I think I could put a head band on that flattens the top and pulls the rest back just a bit so that I look serious and wild at the same time. No, that’s too much. This hair has to go to work. If I wear it like this – in it’s full glory – it will only be a distraction. My hair will be the star of the show, not the learning I have planned on the field or in the gym. No, there would be too many comments, too many uncontrolled touches, too much attention on the stuff that grows out of my head. I don’t have the energy for that.

For a while I leave it as is. I wake up the boy and welcome his strokes on my unleashed mane. I eat breakfast the same way, unselfconscious for a change, enjoying this freedom to just be.

I need to get going and the hair must be contained. One straight part, slightly right of center. I work quickly and weave a two strand twist along one side of my head and then the other. It barely takes me 4 minutes and my hair is bound up in respectability worthy of my schoolmarm ancestors. There: professional and neat. Unsurprising. This is hair that will work, that does the work of maintaining a structure.

18 thoughts on “SOL March 8th The Hair Post

  1. Good morning, Sherri
    This is not even in my line of sight in the mornings (white man, balding, etc.) but I found your writing fascinating and descriptive and the notion of “hair, contained” seemed like the start to a poem somewhere.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Hair….I am full of commentary. But I will just say that I am sorry for the world that my ancestors helped to create, a world that still has boundaries and white, middle class expectations for what is acceptable. Enjoy your freedom to just be and hopefully that space extends far beyond your table, even if it doesn’t come with you into your school.

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  3. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post. I appreciate your candor and the truthfulness to what your experience is. My favorite part is how your little boy played with your hair – what a sweet moment you captured!

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  4. Love everything about this piece, Sherri. Read it twice and appreciate so many of the lines. The last paragraph and your word choices – contained, neat, professional – really had me thinking. When I was younger, I used to flat iron my course, curly hair because I thought it looked more “polished.” My husband reminds me that I used to say it left me feeling “cleaner.” What does say about our culture and what we’ve been indoctrinated to find beautiful?

    “It barely takes me 4 minutes and my hair is bound up in respectability worthy of my schoolmarm ancestors. There: professional and neat. Unsurprising. This is hair that will work, that does the work of maintaining a structure.”

    Provoked lots of thought and made me want to talk with you more about hair and culture!!!!

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  5. Sherri, I had to come read about your hair that makes you look “serious and wild at the same time” – I am seeing a superheroine in my mind, mighty and powerful, definitely a force to be reckoned with. The silver ystreaks only add to the elegant edge (is there such a thing as an elegant edge? Ok, silvery streaks that add to the elegance AND edge). I am glad you left it in its glory for a bit before your amazing 4-minute taming; that’s impressive! The detail here is so vivid, and so fun.


  6. There’s so much about this post that I love. What strikes me most is that constant balancing act between containment and freedom that you express so beautifully. And the undercurrent of respectability, of hair that “goes to work,” of the energy that goes into attention on THE HAIR. I have thoughts on this whole idea of hair and submission, but I’ll just say. Your hair. It IS a miracle. It SHOULD be the star of your show. If *only* it could live unleashed.

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  7. My nieces started wearing their hair natural in their early 20’s. Eventually the convinced their mom to do the same. It looks great on all of them. But their mom had a hard time letting the routine of getting her hair done go. The relaxer and flat iron haven’t been used in years and her hair, in all it’s wild glory, is so beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes indeed, I’m glad too that you could keep your hair loose in all its glory for a while. Our friend’s daughter has similar hair as her dad is from Cameroon (he has dreadlocks) and he always does the kids’ hair and they do need it tamed a bit for school and it’s often braided, but so cool when it’s not! I hope you find more time to wear it loose and will be able to cope with the added attention it causes!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I remember a post you wrote a while ago when you wore your hair, untamed, to work – maybe as part of a costume or … I can’t quite remember. Anyway, I love the descriptions of your hair: “impressive mane complete with thin silvery streaks” and “a miracle in its own right” “a distraction” and “the star of the show” “serious and wild at the same time” “unleashed” “professional and neat” “unsurprising” and finally “hair that will work.” That’s a heck of a lot of description for one slice – and I probably missed some. I think Kevin’s right, there’s the making of a poem in here. And somehow I love that you write about the taming of your hair on International Women’s Day. Maybe because women everywhere know that their hair must be tamed in order to be acceptable – and Black women know it much more than white women. One way or another, I hope that your hair gets many more loving strokes from your son.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. This post is a tour-de-force kind of slice–soooo much here. The story, yes, the writerly moments, the detail, the description. But then how this piece moves the reader to consider culture, identity, race, racism, white supremacy and how much work that final line does.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This piece is so well written it begins to do justice to your amazing hair. I agree with the others, you have the makings of an amazing poem to accompany an amazing piece. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I just love this post. There are just so many layers contained in this one story. I am left feeling sorry that your hair must be contained and cannot be free at work, but also sensing the joy your hair brings you in its many possibilities – in its power. I reread this post multiple times and came away with new thoughts and questions each time.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I am so glad this post was a mentor today. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It has so many layers and is so well written. A line that really stood out to me was “No, that’s too much. This hair has to go to work. “


  14. There is so much in this post – the inspiration intro was right – I could read this again and again. Thank you for sharing it – I want to pick a favorite line to tell you it’s my favorite, but I can’t because each paragraph has something in it that I love so very much.

    Liked by 1 person

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