Many young Black girl have memories of sitting at their mothers feet to have their hair combed. It is an almost ritualized experience for Black females. Once a week, I had my mothers full attention as she lovingly washed and braided my hair for the week. Unlike this little girl, I never had to hear my mother tell me that I was to tender headed or have her cruelly yank at my hair.
Not only is someone filming this abuse, they are encouraging the woman to smack the child for crying and trying to escape having her hair cruelly brushed out. Though the experience of this little girl is quite common, it does not have to be so.
I normally would not recommend straightening a child’s hair but if this is the only other option, then it is certainly better than putting the child through abuse. Too many Black women do not know how to care for their own natural hair and because they have memories of going through this is as children, they see no problem with inflicting the same pain on their daughters.
How many times has the phrase tender headed been said without the realization that the problem is not tolerance but a simple ignorance on how to properly care for natural hair? It is not meant to be cruelly yanked through with a wire brush. Instead of helping the child she is causing pain and damaging her hair by treating it this way.
As Africans of the Diaspora we have lost much, our sense of culture, our names, and how to care for ourselves. We may not daily think about the culture, or names but hair is something we must deal with if we wish to appear presentable in the world. The moment we touch our nappy locks, generations of separation become realized.
I want to be angry at this woman for treating this little girl so cruelly, however I know that she is just a symptom of a greater problem. We can never retrieve all that we have lost because of the Atlantic slave trade but we must begin reclaim what we can for the sake of our daughters and generations to come. We do not need weaves, or straightners, we simply need to connect to what is natural for us and in so doing understand that we are deserving of the same love and care as any other woman.