I don’t know why I thought I could avoid this converation…

…just because my mentee is not Black.

sigh

So my mentee and I hang out alot…and since I don’t have a car in Manhattan we typically (ok..always) get around via public transportation. So on one of our outings we are both sitting on the bus chatting when the adorable little baby gets on the bus! My Nana always teases me and says that I like dogs more than I like babies (I plead the 5th)…either way this baby was ADORABLE and deserved my undivided attention. The mother appeared to be hispanic and the father was probably white (in NYC its so damn hard to tell)…the baby was maybe a 6 months old boy with grey eyes and straight brownish blond hair. I zone out and start making faces at the baby and smiling…

Once the baby gets off I regain my composure (I do have to pretend to be an adult when I hang with my mentee) and resume conversation with my mentee

Mentee: My baby cousin looks like that baby
Clu: Really?
M: Yup…except he has blue eyes and blond hair. He has that really good hair like that baby did. He is the envy of the family…the rest of us have bad hair.

dammit…seriously? Do we have to go there. So I don’t jump on her and just change the subject. Later in the day I just can’t help myself and revisit the conversation…

Clu: So you straighten your hair
M: Huh? Oh yeah..
Clu: What would your hair be like if you didn’t straighten it?
M: Horrible! Really really bad

Hmm k…yeah. You guys will be surprised that I let it drop again. I was honestly caught off guard…I know this conversation will come up again…and now that I know this is an “issue” I should be better equipped to handle it (I hope)

But…question: would you have corrected her? and if so, how? (keep in mind this is NOT your child or someone you are related to)

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7 thoughts on “I don’t know why I thought I could avoid this converation…

  1. YES – she deserved a correction…or an education at the very least.

  2. Meikmeika says:

    This is a hard one……phew….Anytime I hear someone say ‘good’ or ‘bad’ hair I try to intervene by saying good hair is ‘healthy’ hair, which doesn’t include texture….I’ve met so many women who refuse to let go of the perm cause they just know that they have the nappiest of nap hair…cause they want to have ‘good’ hair and would be embarrassed if their hair was too tightly curled….WTF??!!!I’ve also had others reply to my comment by saying the only reason I say it is b/c I don’t have ‘good’ hair.I just wish we were more accepting of everything about ourselves… I struggled with this acceptance for the majority of my life and it feels so good to no longer have that concern on my shoulders.

  3. ayankha says:

    I know how it is to be caught off guard, so I would have probably had a similar reaction. But having a moment to think about it, I would have talked to her about nappy hair being beautiful to some and explore some of the ways she wears (or could wear) her hair. I think sometimes, it is a matter of not knowing how to style hair with a curl/nap.

  4. Adei von K says:

    i would’ve given her a pieceof my mind, “there is no such thing as good or bad hair. its all in your mind. do you consider fine hair good? thick hair bad? vice versa? the chick with the straight hair gets a perm and the hispanic with curly hair blows it out and flat irons it every morning. no one has good hair.”

  5. muslimahlocs says:

    yes, i would have corrected her and then had a follow-up conversation with her parent(s). so she is NOT black????? and if her hair is so horrible then what must she think of yours? she may feel safe enough to make comments like that around you but doing so around the right person might have seriously negative consequences for her, especially in nyc!

  6. sunsail says:

    So wait–she is NOT black??? I had to re-read your post a couple times just to be sure. To me, her statement begs the question: what makes bad hair bad? A grownup would prpbably have an answer to this, but i think this might challenge a child’s/teenager’s belief of bad hair.

  7. JD says:

    I have had more than one Jewish friend make negative comments about their hair like “I hate my Jewfro” and I always tell them that I’m offended by that, and that they should love their hair. I also let them know that they probably abuse their hair by washing it too often and using shampoos made for people with bone-straight hair. I don’t say it in a bossy way, but I definitely let them know that it’s not something Black people want to hear.

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