I was in fourth grade when my grandmother first took me to a hair salon. She drove me to her hairdresser, Betsy, a 50-year-old woman who dyed her hair pitch black, and had a head full of curls the perfect shape of large hot rollers. I squirmed as Betsy ripped out the rubber bands holding in my afro puffs and inspected the black cloud of kink on my head.
“Naomi, have you been trimming this yourself?” Betsy asked, horrified.
“Well, yes, but I don’t know how to do her hair.” Gram said sheepishly. Gram raised five straight-haired Irish-American kids, my mother being one of them. No curls were in sight until my father’s African-American hair genes messed it up. She was lost. Keep reading »