today was the birthday party of my little sister, karah. the birthday party was at a place called "leaping lizards" which consisted of a bunch of blow up bounce houses for children to play on. the circle that my stepmother and father run in is the uber new parents. most of them are older educated people, many of which waited until they were over 35 to have their first child. needless to say, the whole damned clique is nothing but soccer moms in mini vans. my stepmother is white, my father is black, and many of the couples in the soccer mom clique are also biracial, and some of the children are even adopted. theirs is a scene where its not hard to know who belongs where if you pay attention long enough.
today at the party, i observed two dark skinned girls that may have been about 7 or 8 years old. they seemed happy and healthy as they giggled and shared cake and pizza with one another. the one thing that struck a slight cord with me was their hair. it looked- well HIDEOUS. knowing this particular circle, i quickly deduced that the older white woman that kept coming to check on the girls was probably their adopted mother. their hair- oh the horror. one girl had a head band on, and her hair was (and i'm not exaggerating or making this up) literally one big nap. i mean seriously, her hair looked like it was all locking together. the other girl's hair was parted (badly) into six small afro poofs that were tied down with pink barrettes. and while it looked like there was at some point an attempt to style her hair, it too was long past needing some upkeep. their hair had absolutely no moisture. i knew the girls were African and their hair texture was tough, but there was no reason at all for these young girls to come out of the house with their heads uncombed for what seriously looked like a month or two.
i don't want to seem like i'm just being shallow and thinking "god they look a hot mess" because honestly, they looked clean from head to toe. they also had (what i'm assuming was) a brother with them, and he was clean and his head had a nice low, neat haircut. i tried to think of nice diplomatic ways to strike up conversation with their mother about hair conditioning products and the best kind of afro comb and hair pick to tackle their manes. i thought of the "just for me" comb in conditioner and a good afro pick and then an afro comb to completely fluff them out. the one in the head band would have had a beautiful crowning fluffed out fro and the other one could have gotten her hair into two cute afro puffs. if their mother would have even asked, i would have had no problem going over there to wash comb, and even braid their hair myself. i just found that it was so unfair for the girls to look so bad just because their mother obviously wasn't aware of how to properly care for their hair.
i've been natural for about 8 years and i remember what a challenge it was for me to learn how to care for my own hair once i'd cut the perm out. suddenly moisturizers and conditioners were so much more important. those cutesy little rat tail combs were only used for parting my hair, because they sure as hell weren't going to tackle my naps. the fact is, very few people even know how to properly care for natural black hair. and i guess that why i felt so sorry for the little girls. i wouldn't have suggested to perm their hair, but i would love to share my knowledge and experience of how to properly care for their tresses.
i asked my stepmother about the girls and she confirmed that they were adopted and that their adopted mother was a missionary that met the girls on a trip to Africa. she also said that the girls go back to Africa for a year and then come back to the states to live for a year. when i asked her the best way to approach the girls' mother about hair care, my stepmother suggested that i not. she told me that she has another friend with an adopted black child and any time anyone suggests a way to fix the child's hair she grows defensive. (WTF?!) why even adopt a child if you're not going to be willing to do everything possible to make sure they're properly groomed? anyway, i commend their adopted mother's attempt at keeping the girls close to their roots (no pun intended). but one thing i've seriously learned is that white people truly don't understand how big of a thing hair is in the black community. even on the continent of Africa, hair is decorated in elaborate and beautiful ways. to let their hair look so bad was not only an embarrassment, it could even be seen as disrespectful.
by that point, i looked around i think the girls had left with their mother already anyway. frankly, if i'd have gotten into a conversation with their mother, i don't think i could have resisted the urge to suggest dax, hair food, bonner brothers, African pride, tcb, or sta-sof-fro for the girls. my brain isn't wired to shut up when it comes time to help defenseless children. sorry, that's just how i roll.
i hope that when the girls go back to Africa, the second they step off the plane someone snatches those girls up and washes, picks, combs and braids the hell out of their heads. because they are innocent little girls and they deserve to look pretty too.