When I cut those loose permed strands off my head, what being could not call me African?
The doves turned their wings inside out to spare their eyes to this wonder, this woman thing, and the ants stopped sweet talking, linked their arms together, sang to me, this woman thing.
Those golden peacock earrings revealed the wooden frame of my face, burned by the rich American sun. The buzzing of Nigel’s blade taught my hair the lines to follow and forced a naked submission. At some points, my mother said I resembled the adowa dancers who pouted their small lips and hopped around the sand as if tackling a soccer ball from their ancestors.
The tragedy was in the pulling; the comb, like my four fingers running through my hair, only turned my eyes a pepper red. I can’t count how many times I wished my hair waved blond—and with blond I don’t mean dye—but a death to coil, a murder to the strands that refused to tame their taste for wildness.
When the mass asked why did you cut your hair? I had no answer. I must have dared to accept my face just the way it was made. The bliss of afros never reached my backyard to offer comfort or say here is beauty, take it and wrap it around your head, own a haircut that divides your age into two.
Blessed are those who bantu knot and oil massage their scalps to sleep and rise with coconut oil stains on their pillows.
Blessed are the naturals that plead with dandruffs after a co-wash.
Blessed are you who transition and possess the best of two worlds.
Blessed are those who cut and cut until they turn into their roots.
[Check out Afua Ansong’s back porch wisdom]