Good luck to all men going home with hair longer than an index finger (after you stretch it). I pray that my prayer is stronger than the prayers that plan your next haircut. I pray that the scissors get caught in the wrong place (like a thigh or a throat). I pray the machine breaks down, exhaling smoke and spitting sparks from the power cable.
I pray that your hair grows like flowers after the first rain after a long period without water. There aren’t enough prayers to keep your scalp safe. So here is one from me.
It’s a challenge to survive the moves of your mother. She walks up to you with I love you dripping down her face, coating her mouth and the words that come out of it, while her hands are out—sharp!—ready to reduce your dreams so that you can satisfy her.
She doesn’t know that ever since you tasted the toxic California liberal freedom you would decide to meet all her decisions and demands with Why? Instead of Yes, Mom. Because at this point you only listen to intellectual reasoning. You are buried in the discourse of representation and your hair is you claiming that Blackness that she forgot to teach you to love. So, you are doing this for the both of you. You believe this is for your collective decolonization of the mind.
But you know she doesn’t care about your respectability politics or the other terms you swallowed in that one seminar about Blackness. She’s thinking about the sneer you will get from the man walking past you on the street who will wonder if your mother is incompetent or dead; the sad idea that your kinks actually existing on your head will pull that job or internship away from your hands. She is scared that you will turn into a person that she won’t understand.
She’s learning too. She’s learning to live with you having more (and better) hair products than her. She’s learning to separate hair from gender expression though it comes when she’s asking if you want to turn into a woman. It will take time for her to realise that your hair does not make her a bad mother. It will take even more time for you to tell her that the courage to withstand the unsolicited You-should-cut-it advice came from her. She made you strong. I pray that you remember that.
But stay vigilant because as she grows to love you despite her disagreements, she will still be praying for your hair’s downfall.
I pray that she comes around just like when you popped out instead of the girl she wanted to name after herself. I pray that she will provide the shea butter and coconut oil. I pray that she will do the twisting when your hands get tired. I am asking for too much (I know) but it’s time for a prayer to win over all the prayers that want your ‘fro to go. I pray that your scalp stays safe. I pray that your afro dreams stay alive.