Excerpt from Raising Black Girls by Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu
A little Black girl wants her hair to look like her mommy. She also wants it to look like the girls in her class. She also wants it to look like her favorite singer, Beyonce. She has been asking her mother to relax her hair for over a year and finally at the age of 10 her mother has said yes. Some mothers make the decision earlier. I read where one mother made the decision at 11 months. That is not a typo. Yes 11 months!
The little girl is sitting in the beautician’s chair anxiously awaiting to have what she believes is bad natural hair that grows out changed to good hair that grows down. The beautician begins to put the Kiddy Perm in her hair. She begins to cry. Her scalp is burning, but she reminds herself the pain is worth it. She imagines in less than 2 hours she will be beautiful. Her hair will be long and flowing. She convinces herself to endure the pain. Her mother comes to the chair and encourages her with a song.
Many mothers believe they are helping their daughters by using a Kiddy Perm. Some mothers even use it themselves thinking that it will burn less and cause less hair loss. The reality is Lye or Lie. In order for the texture of the hair to change will require chemicals. Most Black females use Sodium Hydroxide also called lye . It burns more, can cause cancer, may contribute to fibroid tumors and can cause hair loss. The other popular option used in Kiddy Perms is calcium hydroxide. It burns less, produces drier hair, and greater hair loss.
One reason, why so many Black girls make the decision to relax their hair is because they are heavily influenced by White females and the definition of “good hair”. They are influenced by the 64% of Black women who have also made the decision to relax their hair. Ironically, that percentage was 10 points higher just a decade ago.
Have you wondered why 70% of Black females can’t swim? Are some Black females afraid their hair will go back? I believe being unable or unwilling to swim is a safety hazard. Have you wondered why 40% of Black high school females do not participate in athletics? Hair.
There are many schools that have suspended Black girls because they chose to wear braids, cornrows, puffs, and other natural hairstyles. The military continues to change their position on what is acceptable and corporate America has made it difficult for the 36% of Black females with natural hair to be hired, retained and promoted.
I have immersed myself with this subject in writing my latest book, Raising Black Girls. I want the best for Black girls. I want them to feel beautiful. I want their boyfriends to like their hair. I want their schools to like their hair. I want the media to like their hair. Black Girls deserve a village that will accentuate their beauty.