Home > Family, Parenting, Uncategorized > Hair, just a fraction

Hair, just a fraction

“Mama?” my seven-year-old, Li’l D, spoke.


“My friend [M] said that the difference between my hair and [my little brother, Littler J’s] is that his is way bigger because it hasn’t been cut for a while.”

“That’s one difference,” I said. “Another is that his hair is fine, while your hair is …” I searched for the right word, understanding many words that seem neutral in the dictionary are charged in living color.

“Your hair is thick,” I concluded.

“Which is better?” Li’l D asked plaintively.

“Oh, sweetie,” I said, ruffling his thicker curls. “Neither is better. When I was little, my only friend who wasn’t my sibling–Topaz–had curly hair. I was so jealous of her curly hair. Then again, she wished she had my straight hair.”

Li’l D looked at his brother’s hair and half-smiled. “Oh.”

I don’t know if he believes me now. I don’t know if he’ll believe me later. I only know that (1) pre-pregnancy me of eight years ago wouldn’t have understood “dog whistles,” or the ways politicians invoke race without ever explicitly mentioning it, and (2) I believe it through-and-through. His curls are lovely. His brother’s curls are lovely.

One brother’s curls are fine. Another brother’s curls are coarse.

Both brothers are beautiful; either’s hair, only a fraction of that.


  1. March 10, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    🙂 you’re such an inspiration, keep doing what you’re doing 🙂

  2. March 10, 2017 at 11:29 pm

    You are so right, Deborah 🙂
    I can’t share your post to Twitter any longer. I think, you might need to re-connect there again.

    • March 11, 2017 at 6:51 am

      I’ve deactivated my account for the moment because it was so stressful as I was using it (to keep abreast of up-to-the-second news, usually presented cynically by those purporting that no change is possible)! I’m probably reactivate it when I’m certain I’ve established strong enough mechanisms to take what I need (for a few moments a day, not all day) and leave the rest. 💕

  3. March 11, 2017 at 6:10 am

    ❤ The hair conversation. I have an old friend who has the prettiest curly hair, but she's always straightening it, while I sit here with my straight hair and would trade in an instant. Have you seen "Good Hair" by Chris Rock? It really opened my eyes to how little children of color are conditioned to think their hair is "bad", as if there is such a thing as bad hair.

    • March 11, 2017 at 6:59 am

      I haven’t watched it, but I want to! I remember listening to folks discussing it on a radio show (before Littler J was close to being) and wanting to watch it … but never followed up!

      I’m reading a bell hooks book right now. The essay I’m on is about blackness and beauty, and it includes some reflections on hair. I wish I read five times as fast as I do! I’d like to inhale it all. Then again, there’s a lot of introspecting and digesting to do to make sense of the reading, so maybe my speed is just right? 🙂

      This is all in the forefront of my mind after my sister relayed a convo with her own 5yo daughter. Basically, her daughter colored a princess brown-skinned and was concerned Rache wouldn’t think the princess was beautiful because of this. They had a good convo and we all got on video chat afterward.

      Later, Rache and I reflected aloud on what lessons our kids are learning when they’re out of our care. The sadder ones are reflected in concern for dark-skinned princesses and things like Li’l D’s long-ago statements light is better and his great-grandma hurt because of her dark skin. (Ugh.)

      I have a lot to learn, and man, I want to learn! 💕

      • March 12, 2017 at 5:59 am

        It’s always good to learn. I have 2 books going at all times, 1 fiction for fun, and 1 nonfiction to learn.

        I love that your niece did that, most children want to color people to look like them. Watched the “toys rn’t us” episode of “Blackish” yesterday, and it deals with the light is better isssue.

  4. March 11, 2017 at 7:26 am

    Sweet! Lol and love how you’ve grown and continue to do so 🙂 It’s refreshing to read your stories of interracial love with children and how tactfully colorblind you are. Namaste Monster xo

  5. March 14, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    I haven’t been on here in a while and this post resonates. We live in a place where my sons’ classmates are a lot darker than my boys. Although they are all islanders, born and raised and in ancestry. My boys have blond-ish hair and fair skin… I dread the day that someone will say something to them. It is so true: there is no “better” – all are wonderful and beautiful.

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