I Was Supposed To Have Good Hair
Ijeoma Oluo


This article I wish I’d had 10 years ago for my little then 5 year old girl. I have a lot of Native American and some white blood in me as well as African American blood. I have “good hair” (HATE THAT DESCRIPTION! ALL HAIR IS GOOD!). Whites hated me for this and other African Americans hated me for it plus the fact that I grew up in a white neighborhood. I married a Nigerian man and my twins are gorgeous as far as I am concerned. I learned early that the outside world can be as stupid as the day is long! My boy/girl twins turned out 7lbs and dark (boy) and 4 lbs and light (girl). My mother came in to help and insisted that I put a “skully cap” on my daughter. I refused.

When my daughter got to Kindergarten, there were six girls and eighteen boys. The teacher thought that the girls would stick together but they didn’t. There were two white girls (identical twins) and one African American girl who refused to play with my daughter because her hair wasn’t long enough or straight enough. They refused to play with the two other African American girls as well. My daughter got her feelings hurt and refused to participate in any of the activities. She told me that she didn’t like my skin because it didn’t match hers and she would ask why her hair wasn’t like mine. She thought it unfair that her twin brother matched dad in skin and hair. The teacher called me and told me what she thought was going on and for me to talk to her. I told her that God made her curls exactly as they should be and that there are other girls who wished to have the curls she had. I also told her that the girls who wouldn’t play with her are not going to have many friends in life because they don’t know how to be one AND if I were her, I would play with those who wanted to play with me. She would be much happier. I added to this how proud I was of her because she is open to play with any kids out at a playground — she knows how to make friends very easily. The switch flipped and the light came on inside her.

She is now almost 16 and goes natural. She does her own hair. She looks gorgeous! Many girls wonder how she comes up with so many styles. There was a time (like in my avatar pic) that she had her hair pressed, but she had to keep trimming her hair and it got shorter and shorter. I suggested that she go “natural” which is what I always wanted her to do. Her hair grows by leaps and bounds — proof that this is how her hair SHOULD BE treated — “natural”.

Your article would have let her see that she is not alone in feeling inferior about her hair.

Thank you for your story. I will bookmark this so that I can refer it to other girls in need of an ethnic pride boost.