Author Omisade, 53

hair story

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What Omisade’s hair would say if my hair could speak. You know, people have always been fixated with me. Since you were a little girl, people would look at me and say my goodness, that sure is thick. I remember how the way your mother used to part me down the middle make these two ubiquitous braids on each side. One of the things I really miss about your mom's hands is her scratching your scalp. Oh, it felt so good. So good to us. We loved it.

You remember how she used to put you up on the sink? Have you laying on the sink ledge and she would wash me, scrub me, get all of the dirt out because you played so hard as a little girl. And then she would press me with that hot comb. I didn't like that hot comb, but she used that hot comb. I tried to be obedient. I tried to hang in there with the straightening of my natural curls. But it just was not the thing I didn't…I wasn't feeling that. You know? And then you put this shit in me. Like, I don't know why you did this. Maybe you did this because people would look at me and think that I was too much. I was too thick. I was too unruly. I was too coily. I was too long, I was too something, but you decided that it would be a good idea to put this chemical. And it broke me down. It broke me down. It hurt me. I didn't break all the way down. You know, because sometimes when your hair, it'll break all the way up. I didn't break all the way off. But it did break me down. And yet and still people were obsessed with the way I looked on top of your head. People asked you if I was a wig, people ask you what products you use. And they just kind of disregarded the fact that the way that I look coming out of your head is absolutely dependent upon your parents. And the way that the hairs look that came out of their head.

So, we've been through this journey, right? You've cut me off, you've braided me up, even locked me up - I actually kind of liked the locks. It felt very protected and warm, intentional and wild at the same time. I like the locks, you did that twice. And then you took me to Africa and you let them shave every bit of me off and left me in a pile on the floor inside a compound as a offering. That was a really important offering. And when I returned to you, I was white. Isn't that something? Every piece of hair that I represent that is growing out of your scalp at this point is some iteration of whiteness or silver or gray with like little last vestiges of the black. The way we were when we were younger.

I give thanks that I'm still present in your head. I've given things that I am a reflection of your parents. You know, I like that we still get to play enjoy different things, the braids, the twists, the afro. You know, it's been a journey. And um, I'm so glad that my unruliness has been accepted, more and more fulfilling and I look forward to see what is to come.



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