I remember watching Soul Train on Saturdays growing up. Soul Train was the black communities answer to American Band Stand. Soul Train featured black artists, black music, and even had black sponsors. One of the biggest sponsors of Soul Train was Afro Sheen, black hair care products. Soon after Soul Train one Saturday we went to the store and purchased some Afro Sheen. The problem was the commercials never told you how to use it. Also if the hair wasn’t cut right or combed right it didn’t matter what you put in it. It wasn’t going to look right. Between my white mother and my white sister, Lisa, they did the best they could with my hair but perfection was a few states away.
Hair care is a huge issue in transracial adoptive families. The problem often is that the adoptive parents just don’t have the knowledge as to how to care for hair of another race. The most common mistake made is that it is assumed all hair is the same.
An adoptive mother recently related to me her shock when she found out her black adoptive son’s hair needed to be cut every two to three weeks. She cuts her white son’s hair every two to three months. She assumed hair is hair.
My mother did the same thing. She thought if she cut my hair when my white brother’s got their hair cut it would be just fine. Judging from my school pictures it was not close to fine. My hair was a mess.
At first glance, this doesn’t seem like much of an issue. We all have had bad hair cuts right? Unfortunately, this runs so much deeper. Often times self esteem is tied to how we look and how we are received. To my family’s credit they kept me so clueless that it did not bother me. I never realized how bad my hair was until I sat down to write this blog. It was bad!
If I were a girl this could have been devastating. The ridicule and teasing a little girl might receive because her hair is styled by a hurricane can affect her greatly, damaging her confidence and self esteem.
The solution I feel is so simple and so complicated.
I can guarantee that many black women who saw me with my mother were disgusted. They looked at my hair, that was fashioned after a broken down bird’s nest, and they were disgusted. But they were never disgusted enough to help.
My hair was screaming, “help, this poor boy,” and no one took my mother aside and said, “let me help you.” Mom never asked for help either.
One vision I have is helping the transracial families navigate through life on a path a little easier than the one we took.
What if there was a support system available to the transracial adoptive family that would connect them with black women who were willing to help with hair care and skin care,(another issue with transracial adoptions) would that be something of value?
We could have meetings where we brought in black beauticians and dermatologists who have a working knowledge of ethnic hair and skin care. Wouldn’t that help the children?
What if we had meetings where black mothers and white mothers could sit down and talk? The black mothers could share their knowledge and partner with the white mothers to help raise more confident children.
I know my blogs are read by both black mothers and white transracial adoptive mothers, so my question to you is do you think this would help? Would you be willing to take part in a group like this to help each other?
Maybe we could save some children from having picture days like mine.