Post-Racial Britain, what a joke! A few Mondays ago I took my babies, a three year old girl and a one year old boy to a stay and play. We stayed and played, well my daughter played, she made snowmen out of play dough and she did some colouring. I spent most of my time chasing after my son who has recently learned to sprint and climb but is still mastering stopping.
At the playgroup I chatted to my friend who lives a few roads up from me and has two children roughly the same age as mine. Her daughter is a beautiful cherub with gorgeous coils, which my friend said were due a wash later on that day. We chatted about ‘wash day’ and how we do our girls hair, as we spoke another Mum overheard and joined in our conversation. She wanted our advice. She had a friend whose mixed race son had a huge uncontrollable afro that her friend could not manage. The son’s father had absconded when her friend was pregnant and the poor friend had no clue as to how to manage afro hair. She said that she wanted to help her friend but didn't know where to start as obviously her own (white) son’s hair was just ‘normal’. ‘Normal’ her son’s hair was ‘normal’ so what did that make my children’s hair. What was this woman saying? That children with afro hair had abnormal normal hair, wow!
Normal?! I looked at my friend and tried to rearrange the expression on my face from wtf to, earnest listening with no judgement. I took a deep breath and said to her, ‘Well obviously our kids’ hair is normal to us, but if your friend isn't familiar with afro har I suppose it can be tricky.’ We proceeded to bombard her with advice and directed her to websites with useful tutorials and advice on caring for black children’s hair.
I have consistently tried to make daughter feel good about her hair and her brown skin and I’m grateful she didn’t overhear that woman imply that afro hair is abnormal. I initially felt guilty for calling this woman out, maybe I was being over sensitive or making a big deal out of nothing but after some soul searching I think I was extremely polite.