Dear Black Women Giving Me Hair Advice about My African Daughter: Please Stop

When we adopted Naomi from Africa, the orphanage had shaved her head. At two and a half, she was practically bald and more like a baby than a a toddler, weighing a mere 14 pounds.

Since then, I’ve learned much about my new daughter — she has a contagious laugh, she’s physically incapable of taking a bath without splashing the water on the floor, and her love of shoes would put Imelda Marcos to shame.  What took me a little longer to figure out was hair. At first, she rocked out her Patrick Stewart bald look.  Sometimes, I’d stick a bow on her head.  Everyone oohed and ahhed and our new addition.  But then, her hair grew, and things got more complicated:

Within months, I started getting stares from other black women in public.  If they were brave — and many  were – they’d casually mention good hair stylists I could use, tell me which websites had good information, and suggest effective products I should buy.  One lady at the store,  actually walked me to the hair style aisle and showed me exactly what I should do.  Another very kind woman sent product to school and left them in my older kids locker to help me learn how to care more effectively for her hair.  And these were not isolated incidents.  Far from it.

A very bold black cashier at the mall asked, “Why do white people go to Africa, pick up kids, throw a headband on them, and think that’s okay?”

I took a look at my cute little baby, with her little fro and her pink bow.

“I fixed it,” I said.

“No, that’s not a style,” she said.  “She’ll never know how to fix her hair if you don’t.”

Another cashier took one look at Naomi and asked, “Who’s doing her hair for you?”  Her look of contempt told me that I needed to get someone to do her hair for me.  I wasn’t having a good day, and I almost burst into tears.  When she saw my face, she said, “I mean, you’re doing an okay job, you just might want to fix it.”

This never stopped.  It got to the point that I’d try to scoot through public places in order to avoid letting other people see Naomi, for fear that I wouldn’t respond to their criticism in a Christ-like manner.  (It’s not their fault. They, after all, didn’t realize they were the sixth person to come up to me at the grocery store.)

That’s when I found Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care, a fantastic website for white moms who need to learn about their black daughters’ hair.  An invaluable resource, I followed the website’s instruction to the letter.  I bought exotic lotions and oils.  I learned how to care for it.  That’s when I learned how to do things like these braids

and beads

and I got better, and even experimented with larger, wooden beads:

The lady at the mall was right.  One day, Naomi will be a beautiful black woman, and I want her to have pride in her hair and feel comfortable in various styles.  And if that’s going to happen, it means I have to learn a great deal about her hair… and fast!  I’ve done so many experiments on Naomi’s hair — some hits and some misses — that it’s a part of our weekly routine.  (I compare it to breastfeeding. I wasn’t able to nurse Naomi, since I missed out on her infancy.  But there’s something special about the hours time spent doing  hair — it’s our bonding time, the thing we do together that no one else in our family can do….  though her older sister Camille is getting really good at braids!) Sometimes, between hair styles, her hair looks this like this:

And this is where the problems occur.  See, there’s a difference between what white women like on black children and what black women like on black children.  White women like this hairstyle very much.  But when black women see Naomi in public with an afro, they really disapprove.  No matter how many braids I’ve done, I get approached if I dare take them out and walk around in public with her.

When I tell people about how much free advice we get from African American women, white people are incredulous. After all, little girls on advertisements and on television have their hair in afros.  What’s the big deal?  Well, as far as I can tell, there’s a lot going on, socially, politically, and culturally.  On Chocolate Hair, Vanilla Care website, there’s a great article called, “The Politics of Free Hair” which is well worth a read.  Rory writes about how many people give her unsolicited advice when she takes her daughter out in public with an afro.   You really wouldn’t believe how frequently it happens.  Rory says it happens every single time she takes her daughter out in public when her hair is natural.  I’d agree — sometimes several different people in one shopping excursion.

Yesterday, I was at Target in Spring Hill, Tennessee, and I braced myself.  I was in a week of “natural hair” because I was trying to avoid “part fatigue.”  The following conversation actually happened:

Cashier: What’s you name, sweet little girl?

Naomi: Naomi

Cashier: You sure are pretty.

Cashier, to me: Have you ever thought of fixing her hair?

Me: Yes, I learned how to braid and I take care of it, but it’s been braided for so long I wanted to let the parts rest a bit and give her hair a chance to be natural.

Cashier: Well, I have been looking at it, and I can tell you don’t know what you are doing.  (Then, she proceeds to give me directions to a braid shop in my hometown.)

Cashier, to Naomi: How does your mom fix your hair normally?

Naomi: in twists, in beads, in braids, in an afro….

Cashier: Well, you sure are pretty, but you’d be even prettier if your mom took you to a braid shop.

If this happens every time I go out with Naomi when her hair is in an afro, it’s obvious: hair is complicated.  This was also very clear when Gabby Douglas was the first African American gymnast to win the All Around at the Olympics,  all anyone could talk about was the fact that her hair was “ugly.”  (“She lives with a white host family and they don’t know anything about taking care of her hair,” her mother explained.)

And that public outcry over a black child’s hair is not isolated.  Angelina Jolie, who adopted little Zahara from Ethiopia, was criticized in Newsweek for the way she did — or didn’t do — her child’s hair.  Read this condescending article from writer Allison Samuels:

Up until recently, Angelina Jolie seemed to be doing a pretty decent job with Zahara Jolie Pitt—providing essential and expensive medical care, purchasing land in Zahara’s native Ethiopia with the plan to build a health center, providing a life of adventure and opportunity… In recent pictures it’s clear Angelina Jolie hasn’t taken the time to learn or understand the long and painful history of African-American women and hair. If she had I can’t imagine she would continue to allow Zahara to look like she has in the past few months. Photos of  Zahara show the 4-year-old girl sporting hair that is wild and unstyled, uncombed and dry. Basically: a “hot mess.’’

I don’t know Allison Samuels.  She might be a fine person.  However, imagine if I turned this around and wrote, “Allison Samuels knows a lot about moisturizing cornrows, but how many children has she saved from poverty?  How much medical care has she given to children in need?  How much land has she purchased, how many health centers has she built? Has she adopted even one kid?”

Maybe she has.  Maybe she runs an orphanage for all I know.  However, it doesn’t change the fact that her comments undermine transracial adoption and orphan care. She suggested that one day Angelina’s daughter might grow up to resent her white adoptive mother, because of the lack of attention to her hair.  Now that’s emotional manipulation right out of the Target cashier’s playbook.

Ladies with serious opinions about hair, please listen to this adoptive mother’s plea:

Even if you’re black, it doesn’t give you the right or authority to give white parents’ rude advice by critiquing a black child’s hair.  It certainly puts us in an awkward situation, because it means many interactions we have with African Americans we casually meet in public deal with our families’ inadequacies.  The message you send to our daughters — intentionally or not — is that they would be better off if only they had black parents.

You may not mean to insinuate this.  You may simply want to help out a family you believe is in need, but it doesn’t help our daughters to overhear their mothers being constantly corrected over hair styles that it takes us several hours to create.

Or, you might actually believe that black people are better off being raised by black people.  You might look at her hair, and think, “Only a white mother would do that to her kid’s hair.  That’s why white women shouldn’t have black children.”  Believe me, I’ve heard that before too.  (If you’re in that category, please read, “I”m a White Republican Raising a Black Child: Deal with It.”)

Of course, I’m new at this.  I know my braids aren’t as tight as some would like, and I secure my twists with tiny bands even though I know you say it’s not necessary.  I do it anyway.  I’m writing this because I want you to know that it’s hurtful to constantly get advice about hair, when I’m already investing so much effort into it.  Rory, over on Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care, is very kind in her assessment of these interactions, believing the conversations to be opportunities for grace.  “How I respond to people will be etched in my daughter’s memory as she grows and learns to respond to unsolicited comments and criticism in the years to come,” she writes.

I’m trying to get there spiritually, but it’s hard not to take this criticism to heart.  The bottom line is this.  My daughter is black, and I want her to be comfortable in the black community.  However, she’s also mine.  I’ll fix her hair the way I think is best on the day, and I’ll brace myself for your criticism and disapproval.

But your words aren’t helpful, and you’re really missing the beauty and transformative love of adoptive families.

And that’s a real shame.

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About Nancy French

Nancy French is a three time New York Times Best Selling Author.

  • Bangel79

    I want to applaud you for such a thoughtful article. It really shows how much love you have for your daughter and how much thought and care you have put into dealing with her hair. As a black woman I can tell you that how we view and deal with our hair still remains a contenious and painful issues due to centuries of being told our hair was “bad”. Unfortunately, there is still a significant number of black women who do not view natural black hair as attractive because that is what we have been taught to believe by society and by our own communities. We have perpetuated this myth probably more than anyone else. In fact, there are perhaps millions of black women who do not even know what their own texture of hair looks are feels like because they have been getting relaxers since they were children. Thankfully, there is a swelling “natural” movement within the black community where black women have been “Big Chopping” their hair and rediscovering and falling in love with the hair that God has blessed them with. Please look at the NUMEROUS youtube videos of natural hair journeys, etc to see what I mean. In the meantime, please stay encourage and continue to do the great work you are doing with your daughter. I am natural and I love the way her hair and mine look in a natural afro state. Me being the person I am I would just always respond to the critics with one simple line, “Do you think natural hair is bad?”. You will be surprised at how many of those women will be unable to answer that question due to the shameful reality that they do think it is bad. It will also serve as a reminder that they even harbour that thought. Thanks again for taking the time to articulate a very painful reality in the black community. I wish you and your daughter well.

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

      Bangel,

      Thanks for the comment — I do appreciate it. I love the suggestion about, “Do you think natural hair is bad?” My only issue is that I don’t want Naomi to pick up on the tension between me and the people that me. Does that make sense?

      Rory suggested trying to avoid an us-versus-them mentality…

      Hum….

      • K. Bernard

        I wrote the following under a facebook post of this article but I wanted to share it with you as well:
        The part that really bugged me was black women coming up to her when her little girl has an Afro and criticizing it. Black women are the toughest cops when it comes to seeing our own hair in its most natural state. I think it inspires an anxiety about themselves and how they feel they look in between braids, twists, ‘styles.’ So many of us are still ashamed of seeing black hair do its thing. Our mothers weren’t comfortable with us looking that, and we’ve grown up feeling like there’s something shameful about having loose, wild hair. It’s an afro, it’s kinky, embrace it., love it. But so many of us really can’t. I also worry about this little girl and what it must feel like to have so many strangers commenting on her appearance and her beauty all the time. We really need to examine what allows to believe that all black women’s bodies belong to the public sphere. I hate that this little girl hasn’t even hit puberty and is already being subjected to such public scrutiny of her self. Let’s just ease off each other and keep our hair issues to ourselves for a change.

        • http://www.NancyFrench.com/ Nancy French

          Thanks. :)

          • Tee

            Hi Nancy, it must really be tough raising an African child in America. I am an African woman, born and raised. I still live in Africa and I’ve had a Perm since I was 10 as my hair was very very tough to manage. Even the salons complained. In Nigeria, we hardly ever leave our hair out in afros (even people who wear their hair natural) as it causes the hair to dry out and makes it much less manageable hence the traditional protective styles of braids and cornrows. I do not have issues of slavery or prejudice in my situation but media and perceptions have still influenced the behaviour of pure Africans to hair. I have a 4 year old daughter who has softer natural hair and I have no intention of killing her hair with chemical treatments. African hair is tough even for Africans my dear. So you’re not alone. Just take it all as a learning opportunity.

  • Jay

    People can be so mean and low down. I’m black and my mother is mixed with VERY fine hair so she didn’t know necessarily how to braid but she could plat (individual not connected to the scalp) til this day I look back at pictures and laugh because even after the hours of tears because it hurt to get my hair combed I still looked wooley. LOL….as long as the child is loved and her hair is washed maintained I would and could careless what anyone thinks. The nerve of some people and their stupid funky opinions.

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

      Jay, thanks for the note! I am learning to do it all, but you can tell from the pictures, I’m new to it. (I’ve gotten better since that one braid photo though! :)

      • Lisa

        I applaud you. I’m a Black woman with mixed children. I had a hard time learning what to do with their hair because it is a much different texture than mine. My youngest has more “wooly” hair and my oldest has more curly hair. As a matter of fact, the oldest daughter looks white and my youngest looks mixed. You just continue doing the best you can and continue to love Naomi. The rest will fall right into place. God bless you and your beautiful family!

  • tracyo

    I am so sorry that you are going through this! What will happen if you don’t put braids, etc., in your daughter’s hair? Will her hair break? I too am white and I don’t know these things. If you let her go ‘natural’ will something happen to her hair? I don’t think God, who created her, cares whether she has beads in her hair. And I think that is the most important thing to remember.

  • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

    Tracyo,

    Well, it gets tangled and is hard to maintain. I know some people who do it, but if you fix her hair into braid, it can last three weeks!
    So there’s a practical element to it too…

  • ShirlyWhirl

    I’m going to point out something here.

    Honestly, this phenomena doesn’t just target vanilla moms/ caretakers. You may not exactly be insinuating this, but I got this impression from the facts that you referenced another vanilla mom’s article on “free hair” and that Gabby had been staying with a “white host family.” You touched on the real issue, the fact that “free” hair has social and political issues tied into it. But I wonder– have you looked into what those issues are? I’d suggest you do. It would explain why you’re getting these comments and why, quite honestly, you should just brush them off.

    I’m a black college student who went natural two years ago. I use “natural” the same way you do “free”- my hair is short, kinky, and typically left in a fro. I’m far from an outlier on my college campus– in fact, I’d say about half of us keep our hair this way. We compare methods of taking care of our hair. What is important here is that we keep our hair healthy.

    Within the African American community, there is this constant pressure to have “Good hair.” This is something passed from the days of slavery, where having white blood and therefore less kinky hair gave you privileges that being a dark-skinned field hand didn’t. This sentiment persisted, which is why so many black women put all sorts of harmful chemicals in our hair for our entire lives, or spend ridiculous amounts of money for weaves. (Of course, there are some black women who might simply prefer their hair straight.) Before I went natural, I didn’t even know leaving my hair in its normal state was an option. It had been in braids, permed, or some other fashion hidden away for my entire life. It’s not even entirely a matter of education or self love sometimes; if you are raised to think that looking a certain way is “backward,” you will continue thinking that until your introspection and research proves otherwise.

    Still, natural hair is exploding! (Ab0ut time.) More people are realizing how ridiculous it is to discount your natural hair as something dirty, esp since, as you can see, “free” hair can be really trendy and cute! Just teach your daughter to be confident and love herself, and just ignore those people who seem bent on “fixing” her. They have their own problems, and should deal with those accordingly.

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

      ShirlyWhirl,

      Wonderful thoughts – yes, I did insinuate that, only because this is all I know. I’m not familiar with the struggles of black women who go natural… You comments make a LOT of sense, and I can see what you are up against. Yes, I’ve read about WHY people feel this way about the curly hair, but I don’t really get it.

      Maybe I can’t because I’m white and I’ll never understand, but I do understand there are major underlying reasons.

      Thanks for taking the time to express yourself!
      :)

      • arthusrocks

        You should really find your way toa dvd online store or to netflix and get some time to watch chris rock’s movie/documentary “good hair” it might help you understand. It’s normal you d not understand those issues after all beauty sallons and barbershops like churches are among the most segregated public places in america!

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  • Martin

    As a black woman with a 2 year old toddler I am still learning how to do her hair. Believe I knew nothing of braiding until I had her, and I am still learning. Brown, black, or white, mothers learn through experience and in this case we are learning how to care for our daughters hair. Whatever style I choose the most important lesson I want to teach my little one is that she is beautiful and so is her hair. Good luck!

  • Rebecca Cusey

    OMG. I just have to say, the pictures you posted of Naomi are SO cute. I love the braids you did. I love the big, wooden beads.

    I”m white and I think she looks beautiful natural too.

    But, I have to tell black women, after living in a mostly African-American neighborhood for many years, I realize that there’s so much style that I would love to be able to pull off. I’d love to be able to wear cornrows and beads, for a few weeks, and not look like some white girl trying too hard. I think they’re beautiful. I feel the same way about the colorful African dresses and head wraps people wear and the AMAZING saris that Indian women wear. I’m not a fan of burkas, but some Muslim women wear head coverings that are so pretty and feminine. I can’t do any of these things because I’m white and I would look, let’s face it, goofy. But I’ve come to have a twinge of jealousy every time I see a gorgeously dressed ethnic woman.

    Gap jeans and black t shirts are just SO boring.

    Anyway, my two cents. Nice piece, Nancy.

    • Rebecca Cusey

      Oh, and DO NOT get me started on the AWESOME hats black women wear to church. I would LOVE, just once in my life, to wear an awesome hat.

      • http://www.EatStylePlay.com/ Eat.Style.Play

        YOLO, wear that hair, women of all colors do it in the south all the time.

      • MsAfroCAN

        Just do it. Your race doesn’t make you better equipped to pull it off. Just do it. I bet you will love how it looks on you.

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

      Thank you, Rebecca! Yes, she is sooooo cute. I am actually beginning to love doing her hair. There’s something so sweet about it — and yes, so exotic and fun!!

      :)

      • afrosaxon1

        You’re actually calling your adopted black child exotic? I’m just done, I’m so done. This is ridiculous. I really hope your child will find the psychological help she is clearly going to need after growing up in a family where she is told her hair is exotic. Like she’s some sort of bleeding tropical mammal. Ugh. I’m so utterly disgusted.

        • Rhonda Smith

          ARE U SERIOUS!! PPL LIKE U ARE WHAT IS WRONG WITH OUR SOCIETY NOW THIS WOMAN HAS ADOPTED A CHILD THAT SHE NURTURES LUVS & HAS TOOK THE TIME 2 “TRY” & LEARN HOW 2 CARE 4 HER CHILDS HAIR & AS SHE HAS STATED SEVERAL TIMES IN OTHER POST SHE IS STILL LEARNING! I AM WHAT SOCIETY & PPL LIKE U WOULD CALL A WHITE WOMAN MY HUSBAND MY SOULMATE OF 30 YRS UNTIL HIS RECENT DEATH WAS A MAN OF GOD & A MAN BUT AGAIN PPL LIKE U WOULD DEFINE HIM AS A BIRACIAL MAN 2 ME HE WAS AN AMAZING HUSBAND FATHER HUMAN BEING A CHILD OF GOD NOT A BLACK MAN NOT A BI~RACIAL MAN BUT A MAN WAS THERE SOME CULTURAL DIFFERENCES YES ALONG WITH SOME AGE DIFFERENCES BCUS HE WAS 25 YRS OLDER THAN I DID I GAIN INSIGHT INTO THOSE DIFFERENCES YES BCUS I WAS & WANTED 2 BE TEACHABLE BCUS U SEE 1ST & 4MOST THERE WAS LUV & A DEEP ABIDING FRIENDSHIP RESPECT & ADMIRATION BUT IT BEGAN WITH LUV & WE BUILT ON THAT LUV FOR 30YRS! DOES THIS LADY NEED 2 LEARN ABOUT & FOSTER HER CHILDS BORN CULTURE & INSTILL THAT KNOWLEDGE WITHIN HER CHILD YES ALONG WITH MORALS RESPECT & ALL THE CHARACTERISTICS NEEDED 2 RAISE ANY CHILD INTO BECOMING A DECENT HEALTHY PRODUCTIVE MEMBER IN SOCIETY WILL SHE MAKE SOME MISTAKES MOST ASSURDLY JUST AS EVERY PARENT HAS I JUST WISHED MORE PPL WOULD FOCUS ON THE FACT THAT WE ARE ALL 1 WE ARE ALL GODS CHILDREN WE ALL HV WANTS & NEEDS LIKE LUV & RESPECT INSTEAD OF FOCUSING ON THE DIFFERENCE WHY NOT TRY 2 SHOW KINDNESS LUV & RESPECT FOR 1 ANOTHER THAT IS HOW I CHOSE 2 STRIVE 2 LIVE MY LIFE ANYWAY OK THAT WAS MY 2 CENTS BLESSINGS!

  • mollie

    Great piece and I thank you for it!

  • Rebecca Cusey

    One more comment…this is clearly getting me thinking.

    When we lived in that neighborhood, my daughter was a toddler and young school aged. She had the most beautiful, soft, blond curls. She would go to school and all her little African-American classmates (girls, not boys) would pet her hair all day long. Literally. She would come home exasperated. She would be standing in line for lunch or something and there would be three little girls around her playing with her hair.

    You don’t get mad at little children, but I felt sad that even at that age, her hair was so different (she was one of two white kids in the class) and felt to be so desirable. These little girls were beautiful, but somehow they had the message already that her blond hair was, I don’t know? Better, maybe? I wasn’t sure how to take it, and I’m still not, but it just didn’t feel right somehow.

    • Nicole S.

      I think your daughter may have encountered a couple of issues. The first, I think you’ve identified, is that her hair aligns with a standard of beauty that even little American kids are versed in. The second is probably that difference is often an attracting factor. I have had dreads and now wear an afro. I have had many white co-workers and complete strangers, touch, tug and pet my hair uninvited. When I got frustrated about it once, a co-worker said, “But your hair is just so different. It’s natural for people to be curious.” It’s really not cool to pet humans, but this might have something to do with the fixation on your daughter’s hair.

      • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

        Right — that touching this makes me feel like people think she’s a pet. I do not like it! Total strangers!! And I don’t want to teach her that it’s okay to have people pawing all over you just to satisfy their curiosity!

        :(

      • Kathy

        When a blonde goes to an African village they’re all fascinated by it. Guess it’s a human thing. But yeah, I can imagine that it would be weird for a stranger to just walk up and pet your head. Ha.

  • Thinz

    You poor lady, the best of luck with that war because it’ll be a never ending one.
    African Americans have ssserious issues with their African(ness). Hopefully by the time your daughter has grown, the African-pride movements that are still in their infancy will by then, have matured.

    Stay strong

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  • Nicole S.

    Your daughter’s hair is gorgeous, braided or loose. Many black women (like me) love to see a free, healthy head of hair like hers, like mine, like my daughter’s. To be frank, I grew up around plenty black women who compromised their hair with harsh chemicals, heat and unhealthy styling techniques. I have my doubts that all of your advice-givers even know how to care for tightly textured hair.
    The disapproval you’re getting is insensitive and probably reflects the lack of comfort that the commenters have about themselves in a natural state. I’m sure these women mean well, but it isn’t OK to make comments like these, especially in front of a child. Hopefully, our girls will grow up understanding that there isn’t any one “correct” way to be.

    • Crystal Wiley-Brown

      I totally agree!

  • Tara Edelschick

    Hey, Nance. I know you’re done with the whole Northeast thing. But in this regard, I think you would have an easier time. It’s not perfect, of course, but many, many women wear their hair natural here. Naomi would just be one among many.

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

      I think WOMEN are allowed to wear their hair natural, it’s the children that aren’t. At least that is what someone here told me.

  • Tara Edelschick

    Hey, Nance. I know you’re done with the whole Northeast thing. But in this regard, I think you would have an easier time Up Nawth. It’s not perfect, of course, but many, many women wear their hair natural here. Naomi – and you! – would fit right in.

  • Samm

    Oh for crying out loud. It’s hair, people. Not the end of the free world. (this coming from someone who can’t be bothered to do anything but run a brush through hers.)

  • Coquinegra

    There’s a difference between an “afro” and allowing your child to go out looking unkempt. Natural and “uncombed” are not synonyms. And, although you may feel burdoned by so much “advice”, you might want to consider that most adult Black women have had the experiences your daughter is going to face with respect to her hair. Black womem’s bodies are and have been “public property” since we camt to these shores. It doesn’t stop just because our mother is white.

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

      So, do you think her hair looks unkempt?

    • Jean

      Black women have been abused in the past, but I have a hard time believing that a black woman’s body is still considered “public property” anywhere in modern USA. (Of course, there still are chauvinist men who will lear at any female figure unfortunate enough to come to near, but that phenomenon experienced by black women alone.)

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com/ Nancy French

      My daughter does not go out looking unkempt… but I do realize I have a lot to learn.

  • Kathy

    That little girl looks just adorable just the way she is no matter the style of her hair. If someone said something like what that cashier said to my daughter, I’d tell her that and then tell her to mind her own beeswax. People shouldn’t feel like they have to conform to a certain hair style to be worth something in the world. You should be confident enough in your own skin not to be all crushed if you’re not a carbon copy. Be a trendsetter, not a sheep.

    I don’t think all random tips from strangers are a bad thing, most may just think they’re being helpful. But there’s a line.

  • Texie

    What would you have said to a stranger who criticized your older daughter’s hair in front of her? Consider the same response for the people who do this to your younger daughter. Your little girl should know that she is perfectly beautiful and that you will stick up for her. You are a great mom! Don’t let anyone mess with you . Good luck!

  • Miss Amma

    Let me just say that I truly commend your efforts and your honesty about your experience. You have a beautiful daughter and her hair is beautiful, too. You are doing a great job and please don’t allow the negative criticisms to bring doubt. Some black women are still very insecure and closed-minded about natural hair. Some will relax their child’s hair as young as 2 years old, bc they have no idea what to do with it. At least you are taking the extra effort to do research and experiment with her hair. It’s a huge learning curve, even for us naturalistas who are still in the learning phase. Keep up the good work! I shared your story with my FB/Twitter page and I hope it sheds some light on how we appear more judgmental and condescending, rather than helpful. I’m sorry you’re dealing with such scrutiny. I think some people worry about the most insignificant things. Especially hair.

  • j

    You wrote such a great article. As a mother and a teacher I have told many a child to “think before they speak” and “you don’t need to say everything you think.” Its too bad adults don’t get that. I have 4 girls and I am still learning what works best on each of their hair. For me, their hair seems to changes with the seasons, with the climate and after a while it seems like my go-to products just stop working. Sometimes, I get a good style going and then we just wear fros (yes, often the “unkempt” variety) for a while until I get up the nerve to try a new style on them. And I get styles and hair care tips from Rory, too! (shhhh…black women can learn from white women, too) A little story —-Early one Saturday morning my daughter’s friend (white) came to our front door to see if she could play. My daughter must have seen her walking down the sidewalk and ran downstairs in excitement. My other girls followed. Unfortunately, the first thing she said when she saw my daughter was, “what is wrong with their hair?” I could see my daughters face drop and I quickly said “we like our hair, don’t we?” (as I put my arm around my daughter) My daughter smiled and nodded her head. “God made her hair different just like He made yours different.” “Your hair was made just for you, and God made her’s just for her.” The little girl looked sort of puzzled at first, then smiled and said “ok.” Then they skipped outside to play. I want my daughters to know that people say ignorant things but that doesn’t change what we know to be true about ourselves. That comes from God. Not from how “kempt” our hair is, how we look or the clothes we wear. You are a great mother. Keep up the good work, Nancy.

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com/ Nancy French

      What! Rory is a legend. Don’t be ashamed!! :) Awesome response.

  • Sam

    It was quite a shock to me when I first was introduced to the multi-billion dollar industry known as “black hair” that very few caucasian people are ever exposed to. It’s huge, and you’ll just have to get used to it. However, a few things I have issues with. Your child is not black, nor are the people giving you advice. Black is not a race, it is a color, as in my black socks. You don’t see other people calling their adopted child “my RED child”, or “my YELLOW child”. Neither is your child African American. She is African, specifically of the country she is from (Etheopian?, Kenyan?, etc..) African American is less about race as it is about culture. You need to learn that difference, and be able to pass that appreciation on to your children. Once you and your child deal with that, then you will be able to easily handle comments coming from other cultures. As a father of bi-racial children I find it important to make that distinction. My child is not “swirl”, but bi-racial. Nor is my wife “black”, but Haitian. As silly as it sounds, it still is important to know those distinctions for us to fully appreciate our heritage and find identity in this world.

    • anonomyous

      AMEN Sam!! I must say I am guilty of using those terms as well simply because in American that is what we are use to and hear everyday. I have never agreed but for some reason still say it sometimes, I guess to save time instead of going into the whole “Im not African American etc,,,,”. African American by definition (I believe) is one whose ancestors were slaves brought to America from Africa, hence the name African American. My ancestors were not slaves nor were they from Africa as my grandmother is from Jamaica which we all now is a Caribbean island. So why am I labeled “African American” just because my skin is dark? I am simply either American or Jamaican period.

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  • Walley Naylor

    I am sure that you will take care of the hair thing and trust me for a black girl it is important, but not nearly as important as being loved, nurtured and helped to develop a healthy self-esteem. Go on do what you do and don’t look back; everybody has had to learn something that at one time they did not know.

  • Heather

    These people are rude and you should complain and have them all fired or at least tell them to MYOB. I don’t understand why you are so civil to rude and ignorant people.

  • Heather

    You are not African American. If you were born here you are American PERIOD. Have you ever been to Africa?

    Last time I checked I am not white either. Not even close

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  • Sanie

    Let me go back in time for a sec…

    In the 70′s we sported huge afros. It eas a point of pride to have your ‘fro picked out neatly and “evenly combed”. Normally we didn’t wear our fros “unkempt”. It was the style at the time.

    Now a days, I see many ‘fros in many varietys. “Unkempt”, “even” , wash ‘n go, large, short, etc.

    While I have fond support for the “even” fro’s, I don’t too much care for the “unkempt” fros. Just my taste, though, one that is not better than the other.

    Maybe that is the issue when people see your beautiful little girl with her fro? The “unkempt” fro was what I wore on Saturday’s waiting for my mom to finish my 4 sister’s hair so she could wash mine. Maybe they think you just got up and ran out the house before “picking out” her fro. Maybe they think you didn’t bother to comb it. I think if it was “combed out evenly” it would look just fine and wouldn’t send a negative message.

    Of course, I’m not giving you any more advise cause you are doing a wonderful job with her hair!!!

    Take care and thanks for the great article…

    • http://www.EatStylePlay.com/ Eat.Style.Play

      While I get your point that’s not that place to impose what they “aren’t fond of ” on her regardless. People like me who wear twist outs, and wash and gos, like to rock our hair in it’s natural state, some people need to get over it. The notion that we should only wear out natural hair as long as it’s “neat” sucks because there are plenty of people who wear their hair and it’s not always neat we don’t bat an eye at them of give them issues because we know that everybody can’t have flawless hair. I’m not sure what sort of message that sends out if we are teaching our daughters that the only time to expect positive feedback on our hair is when it’s “neat” then we need to look at that.

      Everybody doesn’t want a “prefect” picked out fro, and some some of us simply can’t wear that esp since a lot of “kinkier naturals” don’t like to use combs to detangle because it results in a lot of hair loss and little growth, you can finger detangle a perfect fro. Humidity might even play a factor there as well. I don’t think making excuses for these peoples judgement and rude behavior helps the situation at all.

  • Kate

    I like the ‘do you think natural hair is bad’ idea. ‘Mind your own business’ is good too……..

  • Bella

    I am an African-American woman living in a very diverse community with many bi-racial children. I have been in the beauty salon when white women have bought their bi-racial daughters in to get their hair done. They always had this look of desparation and exasperation because of their inability to do “something with their daughters hair”. I always felt so sorry for their children, because their moms gave the impression that dealing with their hair was such an imposition. I have a white friend who adopted a black daughter. Her daughter wore an unkempt Afro (she was trying to style it herself) until she was in seventh grade. I offered to show her how to straighten her hair and she jumped at the chance. Understand, Afros were not in style and she wanted the versatility to style her hair in a variety of ways that could only happen if her hair were straight. She is now 27 and still upset that her mom did not take the time to learn about and teach her how to deal with her hair. What white women need to understand is that while Afros may be cute to them, there is still a lot of care and attention that needs to be paid to styling, moisturizing, and trimming it. Afros are not carefree hairstyles, that you can just “let go” because you don’t have time to redo braids or you want to let the hair breathe. Number two, the white standard of beauty has been entrenched into our society for years, we are victims of it, just as if not more than white women. We, as black women spend inordinate amounts of time and money on our hair. We straighten it, because we want to have that versatility. We want to be able to copy the styles in the magazines just like everyone else and so will your daughters. So, do we trust white women to be able to do justice to black girls hair, when in most cases we’re still trying to figure it out ourselves? No, we don’t, just a fact that you’re gonna have to live with, sorry. I do, however, applaud the white women who are making an effort to style their child’s hair. When black women approach you with unsolicited advice, take it in the spirt it is being given. From their perspective, it’s not about you and your feelings, it’s about your daughters and how we know they will inevitably feel about themselves and their hair. If they are living in a household where everyone has straight, wash and go hair, that is what they’re going to want, no matter how many times you tell them their hair is beautiful. Because, unfortunately it’s no so much what you say, but what society says is beautiful. You are getting just a taste of what is like raising a black child in our society. There are many things that you will not be able to tell your child, simply because she will have experiences that you have never had to deal with. My advice, get involved with the black community they can be a great resource to you in the years to come. Good Luck and God Bless

  • http://weirdcrayonboxcrayolas.blogspot.com/ BLACKkittenROAR

    I have mixed feelings about this article because it makes a lot of assumptions and generalizations about black women and what we perceive to be beautiful. For starters it is unfortunate that people are making these sorts of comments in front of your daughter. As a black woman raised by a white woman I know from personal experience that this is incredibly destructive to an adoptees self esteem. Please defend your daughters honour and stop taking this crap from rude people who are very obviously insecure and probably do not have a clue as how to properly handle black hair themselves. You don’t have to be rude back, but you do need to make them understand that what they are doing hurts your daughter and that you will not tolerate it. Again, I can tell you from personal experience every comment, every snide remark will stick with her so please learn how to give a silencing side eye, flip the situation back onto the commenter, or whatever you find works to hush people up, but still be sweet as pie as you’re doing it.

    As for caring for your daughters hair I applaud you for taking the time to learn how to care for her hair, because the effect it will have on her will be carried on into adulthood. As a black adoptee I did not have ingrained into me the “hair shame” many black women and girls get passed on to them from family members. Unfortunately society eventually did that on its own as I was got older but because my mother took the time to learn how to care for my hair and thought it was just fine the way it was, it was very easy for me to eventually embrace my natural hair again and just say no to damaging hair care practices.

    Here’s the thing, there are a number of black women with natural hair who would have no problem with your daughter’s “free” afro. So please, don’t paint us all with the same brush because a) we are not all alike, and b) you might actually learn something from a black woman who’s hair is probably a heck of a lot more similar to your daughters than yours and might know a thing or two after years of having to care for her own hair. So if the women who are approaching you are being respectful and not making rude comments like “you’d be so much prettier if..” (my heart breaks for your daughter that someone could be so rude to say that to her) take the opportunity to ask questions. Your daughter is black, please don’t let her grow up with a complex about her own people and culture (and I mean African culture too, not necessarily just Black American culture) try interacting with black people. Understand this, hair is a big deal to us black women. As a natural I get asked daily about my hair by other black women (black men too because many of them are clueless too about natural hair), its just what we do. So don’t always take it offensively. Its a slow movement but black women are slowly starting to embrace our natural hair. Be patient.

    Here’s a tip, from someone who is actually part of the adoption triad: the next time your out and your with your daughter (it might be misinterpreted if your by yourself) if you see a black woman rocking an afro or any other natural hairstyle (braids, twists and locs are all considered “natural” hair styles – avoid asking women with weaves and perms unless you plan to weave or perm your daughters hair as permed hair must be handled very differently from natural hair and weaves are a whole other animal) ask her what products she uses and get your daughter involved in the conversation (a lot of naturals love seeing little girls with naturals and will love to talk to you and your daughter).

    This will do two things: firstly and most importantly it will show your daughter that not all black women are miserable (and this is critical because she will grow up to become a black woman) and that you are comfortable engaging with them (which you need to be or she may end up resenting you). Secondly, it will reassure these women that it is safe for your daughter to be in your care and help show some of that “beauty and transformative love of adoptive families” that you refer to in your article. Understand this, racism is very real and your daughter has probably already begun to deal with it. Sometimes black people just want to be reassured that your daughter is being equipped with the tools every black person needs to survive in this world, and not being subjected to further unintentional ignorance. Now you don’t owe anybody any sort of reassurance BUT if you truly love your daughter understand that you’re doing it for her more than them and explaining that is all sorts of complicated but at the end of the day black people’s acceptance of your transracial family will mean so much to your little girl. If black people reject your daughter because you have rejected them (whether intentional or not) she will feel very lost and believe me that isn’t easy to get over.

    Hope this helps and isn’t taken the wrong way.

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

      No, GREAT advice! Thanks so much for all of it.

      I agree — I’ve had many, many conversations with wonderful black women with natural hair about Naomi’s hair. They were so supportive and kind. I’m not sure if I was just hurt when I wrote the above, or if I was just negligent.
      :)

      either way, thanks.

      Here’s what I did today:

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/frenchrevolution/2013/05/11/what-this-white-mother-did-to-her-black-daughters-hair-bantu-knots/

    • Calm Down

      I don’t agree, I think that she is sharing her experiences with certain black women who are clearly crossing the line with her and her child. If people aren’t smart enough to know that this is aimed towards the few bad apples that have their same thought process then that is their issue not hers. She could have put “some black women” all she wanted to but it doesn’t change the fact that she keeps having the same issue with a lot of black women. I don’t think she is mentioning this to shame any one of put us all in one box I think she was simple sharing her experience and letting people know that sometimes they need to fall back before making assumptions about her child.

      • katataksrainbow

        Thank you for passive aggressively questioning my intelligence in your comment. Again, as an adult adoptee I do have some insight into the actual experiences of growing up with a white mother and felt compelled to respond from that perspective. I should certainly hope that this woman was referring to a small segment of black women and not making sweeping generalizations about all of us, BUT in my personal experience adoptive parents are absolutely not free from holding racist ideologies and since (no offence to the author) this article seems to come off as somewhat bitter to say the least, I wanted to share what effects that sort of unexamined racism has on adopted children. Sorry you don’t agree, can’t say I am surprised or care since when it comes to adoptee’s perspectives nobody really seems that interested in hearing perspectives that do not reflect the sunshine and rainbows image the adoption industry would have one swallow whole if one isn’t smart enough to know better.

    • sheba

      This is the deepest fullest most comprehensive answer concerning this subject that I have ever heard. I live in a community where there are many white parents that have adopted black children. I see little girls with unkempt hair and I want to say something so bad, but all I see is the parent loving their child. Why would I come between that. Even if I approached kindly which I would have, I just felt like “they will figure it out”. Your comments about resentfulness are real. I have a friend whose mother is white, father is black and she at times still laments over her mother never doing anything with her hair and mind you, she has very loose soft curls, but to her it was still unkempt. I was considering having a seminar at my local library about black hair. At first I was thinking that it wasn’t a good idea, but with your words I think I will do it. I thing that the way in which we communicate with one another is just as important than the words spoken. Thank you.

      • katataksrainbow

        Thank you so much for sharing. Your response made my day. I hope your seminar goes/went well and that people were/are receptive to it!

    • pcjm08

      well said and MOST diplomatic! Thank you for taking the time – cuz i was ready to pop off at mom for you being you know what! ;) btw i am a black adoptive mom of female child w god knows what kinda hair! MANY years tryin to work out blonde fly-away, black-baby-fine sandy-red, natural nappy combo hair! lol

      • katataksrainbow

        No sorry, I’m confused. Me being what exactly had you ready to pop off.. ? Doesn’t matter, I’m glad you took the time to read my comment and saw that I was indeed trying to be diplomatic.

        • pcjm08

          i apologize for not being clear and specific (i have to remind myself to use MORE words). i was thanking YOU for YOUR thoughtful, kind and diplomatic response. Because i found nancy french to be offensive entitled, self-righteous, and oblivious – in short – racist. i understood and empathize with exactly what she was describing in terms of being easily identifiable as an adoptive mom (and seen as “other” or less capable) and judged. And i understand and empathize with her when people make assumptions and breach other wise respected boundaries. But her response to what is widely known, if not agreed with, within the community of african-american women regarding hair was off-putting and hostile. Her “position and tone in the story affirms her own lack of diversity in her circle – the one she is providing to her daughter! And it reveals how little regard she has for what is ONLY one aspect important in navigating the world as a person/woman of color. Her tone leads me to believe, she would NOT be my choice as someone to raise a child of color for that reason alone. While she demonstrates she is a GREAT mom in other regards, being educated about the psychic life of people of color operating within institutionalized racism is ALSO NECESSARY to be a “good parent”. So, THAT is what i was superficially responding to, and the “pop-off” comment… i am sorry for any confusion i caused and the accompanying provocation. fyi Nancy: http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2013/07/blue_ivy_carters_natural_hair_we_need_to_get_over_it.2.html

          • katataksrainbow

            Ok, now I get where you were trying to go with that! I agree, she does come off as a complete racist. I’ve learned that does not necessarily make one a horrible person, but as an adoptive parent of a child of colour I agree with you that she would not be my choice either. Than again, I myself would call my own white adoptive mother a racist as well but again like Nancy most white people are not ready to come to terms with the fact that the world is far from colourblind/post-racial. I don’t believe that she intends to be racist, but is a product of her conditioning. Adopting a child is a choice. So is being a racist. If one chooses to adopt transracially, than they should also probably choose to wake up to the reality of the world people of colour have to navigate and prepare their children for it. My heart breaks for her child, but hopefully she is able to discover who she is and where she belongs in the world even if it is without the help of her adoptive parents. I was able to do it on my own and am a stronger person for it so I’m sure this little girl will be just fine.. even if her mother needs to get a clue.

          • pcjm08

            Thank you again for sharing. wow! an adoptee adoptive!? So you have a perspective and experience not often spoken of ! Interesting. When i was young the national association of black social workers posited that they did not support transracial adoptions (white parent.black child) for the reasons underlying Nancy’s post. It caused quite a stir as you might imagine – and the first i’d heard of “reverse racism” though that term had not been turned yet. There argument was in recognition of children such as yourself – having strength and resiliency, and likely Nancy’s daughter – but the psychic damage SHOULD be avoided. Their position was whites who were doing a “kind” or a “generous” thing without being educated enough on their own challenges with race/racism would not be able to give the children a soft psychic place to land. The validity of their point became clear to me when i adopted a mixed ethnicity child as an dark-skinned african-american female. The issues are complex. There were issues from blacks AND whites who disapproved as they thought i MUST be with a white man (color-ist, hetero-sexist assumptions), and those who thought my daughter COULDN’T be jewish as she insisted in class – like REALLY a white teacher reported this as a “behavior” issue…smh. My child’s particular mix has lots of culture to know and laud. AND SO DOES HER HAIR – lmbo. i was WHOOPED by that hair! But, it was a HUGE issue for her, and her school age esteem issues. She was perceived as black, and self-identified with other black girls when it came to hair. I think it was important to give her the tools to understand and manage these pressures, as my own family of origin gave me while being raised in a nearly exclusively white town. But, as far as you mom, Nancy and the folk i grew up with – i think there IS intentionality. i think the intention they have is NOT to do the hard work with race/culture because it IS uncomfortable/painful. Therefore, they end up hurting others with behavior(s) that have racist effect(s) because they didn’t take the necessary step of educating themselves. So i can believe there is not malice of aforethought, i know it is not benign.. Again, thank you for the dialogue. i ran across this in my travels today on a dad of color who tried to avoid race – didn’t work out well for him or his daughter either… there are two posts related to one incident over a year apart, so i’ll post one then the other in another “reply”. http://daddy-dialectic.blogspot.com/2011/05/day-at-park.html

          • pcjm08
  • Lemlem

    There’s so much to address here, but I will only address a few points.

    Hair as a black woman is a major issue. I am an African woman born and raised in North America. Blacks, Asians, but especially whites would question me about my hair. Whites and some blacks treat it as though it were a mystery, touch it without permission, and never let me forget how “different” I am because of my hair. As a black female, you quickly learn what society totes as being the desirable, perfect hair type, colour, and texture and that you are very different from what society upholds as such.

    Simply because there are blacks in advertisements wearing afros does not mean that is the most “natural” way for a black female to wear her hair. In most parts of Africa, women do not wear their hair in afros – that is the least common hairstyle (yes, this includes the period before colonization and globalization). Braids, twists, shaved heads, among many other styles are most common.

    What many people without naturally very curly hair understand is that very curly hair is most often very dry and tangles very easily. To wear one’s hair in an afro without combing and keeping it constantly moisturized with water, oils and/or creams is damaging to the hair and will lead to breakage. To not comb it would mean that there would be knots. Perhaps look at it this way. Do you think a teacher would not make a comment to a parent regarding their child’s constantly uncombed (and straight) hair? They most likely would. There is a difference between combed, moisturized afros and uncombed, tangled, and dry afros. One is a style and the other will lead to breakage and damage to the hair. A lot of the time, when a parent does not know how to deal with their child’s hair (which includes black parents, at times) they do nothing to it except wash it or put in weaves or relax it – though that’s not to say that *only* people who don’t know how to deal with very curly hair do that.

    Without a doubt, that cashier was supremely rude and her comments were entirely inappropriate. But surely, there were other women who were more polite? And one has to wonder, would you ever have started learning how to care and style your daughter’s hair without the suggestions of the women you came across?

    My parents are African and taught me nothing but love for my God-given features. It was society and others who made me insecure and constantly mindful of how different I was and of how I didn’t fit in. So I don’t understand the comments about people saying that black parents pass on self-hate to their children. Don’t generalize black parents, they are not all the same simply because they are black.

    Also, I don’t think their advice is a veiled criticism of adoptive families. Simply put, as black women who know firsthand the importance of hair in society, they’re trying to help you. Just as a woman might give advice to a single father with daughters about training bras, periods, pads, and other things related to experiences he has not had firsthand, especially if he does not have any close female friend or relative to ask, they most likely have good intentions.

    I’ve had two biracial friends who had mothers who did not do their hair or simply relaxed it. Both had complex issues regarding their hair and felt that their natural hair texture was not beautiful and sought hair textures closer to their mothers’ idea of “beautiful hair”. I’ve also had friends with both black parents with such complexes. As long as the parents embrace their child’s natural features, teach them to embrace their own beauty, and shows them ways to style their hair, I think that they would have a good chance to develop a healthy attitude towards their hair than if the parent did not invest time and energy into their hair and upkeep. It’s not something that parents should ideally opt out of doing. If a parent did not comb or do anything beyond washing their child’s straight hair, people would be asking questions. So why should the hair texture suddenly make this responsibility non-existant?

  • disqus_bgbfhGpSUA

    Wow..great article. It’s crazy how much of a stir natural hair causes. There does, however, seem to be a strange fascination that whites have with black hair. I was just reading an article on this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/antonia-opiah/can-i-touch-your-hair_b_3320122.html There is also going to be an event in the city http://youcantouchmyhair.com

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com/ Nancy French

      Yes, I saw that! Wow!

  • Misa

    I have mixed feelings about this article. As a black women with mixed ancestry we were taught our hair is our glory. My grandmother who’s from the South said for a long time black people were not allowed to wear their hair, black women use to tie their hair up with a scarf. Not to make this a race thing but it was white people who started the whole straight hair/long hair is beautiful. The media has always shown long luxurious straight hair. This is what I use to see as a child. I love my natural hair. I love learning about my natural hair. Love is all you need, and I’m sure you will raise her to be a beautiful woman. But your not going to stop the comments about hair because the whole black hair issue goes way back. You can’t even get an office job with an afro. That’s life. Maybe when the world starts to accept black women in their natural state black people will learn to accept it also.

    • LaDeidra L. Allen

      and i totally agree with u on this one

  • frm meme

    From a black girl raised by a white mum I have to say I get where you’re coming from. But when you say it must be a cultural whatever thing that should show you how little you know of what African hair represents. culturally its a spiritual thing. some believe the hair is an extension of the soul. some style their hair as a statement of hierarchy or social status. a white mum when you have a little girl with an afro you look like a stereotypical woman who doesn’t no anything about black hair unfortunately. but doing black hair ins’t the same as understanding it and what it means. its a social doorway and a way to bond with others and family which I’m sure you understand that much. but I feel you are walking around with a certain level of naivety and ignorance when it comes to black hair. being black as a life experience is vastly different from being white. so now that you have a black daughter it is your job to know and understand these things. because one day she’ll come to you and ask you about these political, social and cultural things and you won’t be able to tell her anything. I know, because I’ve been there done that. not having a go at you because it IS hard. especially in america. but maybe your next article should be about black culture and the history of hair. then you’ll understand why these women keep hassling you. I mean, I can’t go around to every hair advert and say. “stop showing straight hair”, or blue eyes.
    the black experience is a unique one. But good luck and thank you for learning her hair. meme :)

    • No.

      Or maybe for her it’s just hair, just like it’s just hair for a lot of black naturals. don’t put us all into one box because for some us it’s as simple as we love our natural hair and it is what it is. Yes it’s hard in America but this ain’t about her constantly reminding her daughter about everything negative with being black. It sounds like she is dealing with a bunch of people that needed to mind their business and who only see a fraction of the issue when it comes to her daughter. Like any other mother I’d be very defensive if anybody was rude like these women came off to her about her child. She could have overstepped the line and made a ton of assumptions. Even if she was passive about why it’s an issue that’s fine too, because at the end of the day those women probably don’t think about the children of Africa as much as this women has, who went there, and got a child who could actually have a much crappier life than the children here in America. Again it’s not thier place to say, not their place to impose regardless of their “intentions good or bad”

      • LaDeidra L. Allen

        and i agree with u too

  • Nataylia

    Thank you for the article. My mom is white and she faced the same comments that you have faced. While I am not adopted, my father is black and my hair is thick, kinky and curly. I have worn every style there is. I get ignorant comments all of the time when I give my hair a break and wear it out. ” Why don’t you press it”? “Your hair would be so pretty and long if you straighten it”. Etc. Etc. Blah Blah. It is tiring to constantly get comments from black women who feel entitled to say whatever to me. Like they are experts because they are full black. Half the time the women who come up to me look a hot mess in the hair department. My husband is white and we plan to have one child of our own and adopt a child (probably an African American child or who knows). All I know is they are wrong fro saying stuff to you. If you said something about their old weave, crazy eye lashes or perm burned hair …..then they would not be okay with that. I cannot tell you enough how many times I bit my tongue. But one day another hot mess, entitled , jealous something is going to catch me on a bad day. Keep doing what you are doing and you do not have to answer to their questions and it is very unfair that they would say those things in front of your daughter. They are just upset that you have a black daughter. Haters. I’m done.

    • LaDeidra L. Allen

      honestly its not really the same since u are mixed. majority of mixed girls have either lighter skin or a different texture of hair than full black girls. the way u speak about ppl who “sacrifice” their hair gives it away. i say wear whatever u want. but honestly her hair doesn’t look like much effort was put into when it was “let down” and that’s okay sometimes. but it’s the same with white ppl. if they have messy bed head in the morning they at least brush it wash take care of it somehow. the reason why black woman, i think, and im not speaking for all, the reason why they feel a need to say something is becuz they feel they have to stand up for that child becuz she looks like she’s being neglected. i’ve seen a lot of white women w/ black children just not care or was ashamed of their children’s head becuz they didn’t know what they were getting themselves into.

  • Afnm2

    I have to say as a black woman with natural hair, i wear my hair out all he time, and maybe afros aren’t popular in Tennessee but I assure you thats only Tennessee. Matter of fact, some of the most beautiful black women have thick natural hair and wear it out. Looking at the picture above, her hair is fine in the fro during the off weeks. Your not supposed to keep your hair in braids all the time (a lot of black people dont know that) as it can cause too much tension on the scalp. The important part to understand is that as a black woman you hair is your pride and is a major part of our natural beauty. I would suggest every now and then take her to get it deep conditioned and trimmed. Keep it very moisturized as black hair is dry and keep doing what your doing. Keep a headband in it or braid it in beads, put a bonnet on her head at night so you dont have to do it every day and continue to be a good mom. Oh and stop listening to cashiers and all these other people. Black hair really isnt that hard to deal with. I can guarantee you that many of the people who stop you dont have healthy hair themselves because they use all those stripping products. Plus I think people have a warped sense of what beauty is. I relaxed my hair for years, then decided to go natural and wear afro…guess what…i have really pretty curly hair…im actually upset my mom ever touched it!

  • John Dough

    Just keep the name of the best known black salon and best stylest there ready to spit out and say you use her, but you took a week off and end the convo. That would be much quicker than explaining every time.

  • http://www.EatStylePlay.com/ Eat.Style.Play

    Wow, as a black woman this hurts because at the end of the day it seems like the women you are coming into contact with only see one thing. They don’t see a loving mom who has this beautiful child. They see hair…and that seems to trump everything else you do as a good mom to her. That is what makes me upset for you and for moms who I know have such good intentions. Hair is Hair, and these people have no business questioning your skills as a mom because they can see the difference in you and your child.

    Now what if you rebutted with “Hey what do you feed your children?, maybe I can help you feed them better” …or anything along the lines of questioning her motherhood. I mean what if you started questioning her on why she’s a cashier. This isn not her place to ask you and start a conversation with you about. It’s called privacy, and what if you were babysitting? What if that was your step daughter and her mother sent her out the house like that because she didn’t care? I mean who are they to really ask you that when you’re there for shopping and you didn’t ask them a thing?

    I commend you because at that point I think i would have been a snarky mess with any women who comes for me and my child in that manner. You are a good woman for adopting period, take the childs race out of the equation. You went through the trouble to take in a child who otherwise could have grown up without love and that right there is a lot! So to me maybe these cashiers need to stick to ringing up their purchases and staying out of your business. Your daughters hair is gorgeous there are so many black women who don’t even know how to take care of their own hair and they are still learning so why is a big deal if you’re still learning. I don’t think you should ever have to explain yourself to anybody about why that sweet girls hair it out and resting in between braiding? It’s like you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I’m pretty sure they would have an issue if you put in a pony tail, or god forbid you pressed it out straight. I really hope that there is a cordial, shut down phrase you can come up with to shut these people up and shut the conversation down.

    And I’m pretty sure that Zahara is not going to hate her mom for hair issues down the line. I’m pretty sure her love for her will over shadow all that.

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com/ Nancy French

      Thanks for the comment… Yes, it is super tricky, but I believe love triumphs over all this. Thanks for the note.

  • afro_chick10

    i’m a black woman who rocks a fro. i didn’t always, but i will never go back to a chemical treatment (that’s why wigs and weaves exist). you are doing a great job with naomi’s hair! afros are the bizness and hers is GORGEOUS. it makes me sad that we can’t embrace all forms of our natural hair. you’re right; white people love afros! (what I don’t love is people who try to touch, rub, feel my hair without asking. ummm… no. don’t do that.) my sista’s responses are based in their own hang-ups and learned behaviors. it’s hard, but you’re going to have to remember that when this happens. Let them know that afros are just as beautiful and acceptable as braids and cornrows, and the fact that they can’t see that is on them.

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com/ Nancy French

      Thanks, Afro-chick! I am working on my cornrows… Do not have them down yet, but I love her in bantu knots!

      • LaDeidra L. Allen

        i love bantu knots

  • Simon

    Thank you for the interesting post. I am from an interracial family and I wear my hair naturally. I also had a non-Black mother who LOVED my afro even when my Black relatives were not supportive. I think my mother experienced a lot of what you have experienced, so it was good to read this. I also think that a lot of Black women hear similar comments from other Black women.

    I wanted to comment to say that it is a pretty big part of Black culture for Black women to do other Black women’s hair and to share advice about hair. Hair care for Black women is a BIG DEAL. Going to the beauty salon or sitting on the floor as a relative or family friend does your hair is a right of passage for most Black women. That said, take most of these comments from other women with a grain of salt. In some ways, a lot of what you are taking offense to is just an example of a cultural difference. And that’s okay. You shouldn’t try to avoid those situations because no matter what, your daughter is going to be a part of that culture. Better that she learns how to navigate through her interactions with other black women.

    One day, Naomi will be in the lunchroom of her high school and someone will give her advice on her hair. One day she will be at college (like I was) and will need to know how to engage in these kinds of conversations with other Black women in order to learn a few new things. Most of the time it’s not offensive– it’s just Black culture. Embrace it. Teach your daughter to embrace it or she will be very lost one day.

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com/ Nancy French

      Great point — I think you are right.. It has been a long time since I wrote this article and I’ve gotten MUCH better at doing her hair. Lately, I’ve had many fun conversations about bantu knots, conditioning, etc. :)

      Thanks!

  • afrosaxon1

    This article did more to confirm my ideas that white people generally are ill equipped to adopt black children…and not because of the hair thing.It’s just the general lack of understanding most white people have of the complexities of black life living in a white society. And while I have no doubt that the majority of these white parents love their black children, unfortunately, loving white parents will not be enough to allow black children to develop the sense of self needed to manoeuvre in society. I really wish there were mandatory cultural courses people had to go on before undertaking trans racial adoption. It would mean children could enter homes that are both loving and well informed.

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com/ Nancy French

      Dear AfroSaxon, do you think we shouldn’t have adopted her? I think we have different definitions of what being “equipped” to adopt actually is.

      • afrosaxon1

        I’m not saying you shouldn’t have .I’m just saying before white parents adopt a black child they should try to have a better understanding of things. It’s not hard to go on amazon and buy a couple of books on white privilege, race in society, the politics of black hair etc.. then all the comments wouldn’t have been such a shock. From my experience white parents adopt black children thinking their love will be enough, and while it may be admirable, many of thses children are left with significant cultural gaps they spend a sizeable portion of their adult life trying to fill. White people have exoticised trans racial adoption, no thanks to people like Madonna and Angelia Jolie…and it’s almost like black people can’t call them out on sub standard handling of the racial identity of their child because we’re supposed to applaud them for adopting the child in the first place.

        • Levedi

          I know this is a late reply to your comment, but do have specific books you would suggest as good sources for white parents to read or use to help us better understand? I have enough of an idea to know that being black in America isn’t easy or simple, but I know I have a lot of white privilege and I grew up in a pretty much all white community so I have a lot to learn.

          • afrosaxon1

            Hi, no worries, I’m glad you actually responded with a willingness to read around! That’s so refreshing..
            I could give you so many books..
            The Souls of Black Folks by W.E.B Du Bois

            The Miseducation of the Negro by Carter G Woodson

            Race Matters by Cornel West

            Hair Story: Untangling the roots of black hair by Ayanna Byrd and Lori Tharps

            How to be Black by Baratunde Thurston (this is more humour/memoir but is easy reading and will give you personal insight)

            Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race by Dr Beverly Tatum

            Orientalism by Eddward Said – haven’t read this yet but my friends says it is a MUST read.

            Anything by Tim Wise – I haven’t read his books but I’ve watched videos and he’s one of the few prominent//pop culture white scholars on the subject of race. I’ve posted a clip of him below.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3Xe1kX7Wsc

            No doubt some conservatives will bash this list because they’re mostly liberal authors, but unfortunately a significant of conservatives are thinly veiled racists. Including the ones who adopt little African babies. *shrugs*.

  • http://www.NancyFrench.com/ Nancy French

    Thank you!

    • Krystena Lee

      I applaud you for taking the time to learn about and care for your daughters hair! And thank you for sharing boldly on such a sensitive issue. You’re her mother and it’s your job, nobody else’s, to take care of your daughter the way you deem best. I know what you mean about trying to remain Godly when dealing with people who are rude, ignorant, or downright nasty- but I want to encourage you to tell people to mind their own business. (In the most saintly way possible of course). Go ahead, tell them, “Mind your own business thank you.”

    • laineleigh

      All of the negative assumptions and generalizations about black women and the congratulations of those assumptions is troubling. Jazzmine’s comment that rarely do we (black women) know how to care for our hair and this comment of yours “See, there’s a difference between what white women like on black children and what black women like on black children” demonstrates a lack of knowledge. Those comments aren’t true of all black women. And it makes me question whether you have taken the time and made the effort to really get to know other black women in a meaningful way. Like any other race of people we aren’t a monolithic group who all believe the same thing, hate our hair, and don’t know how to care for it as Jazzmine suggests. Those generalizations also reflect a lack of understanding of who black women are individually and collectively and the challenges we face. As a black women who proudly wears dreadlocks and proudly wore an afro for many years, I love seeing beautiful afros on girls (and women) and think your daughter looks adorable with all of her hairstyles. I commend you for making the effort to learn to care for her hair and encouraging her to love the hair that God gave her. When a black woman loves and embraces her hair it is a truly beautiful thing because we get so many messages from the culture at large (not just black people) that tell us otherwise. However, I also understand where the women that approach you are coming from. I would never approach a white mother and say such things. But I get it. Some of them are misguided and haven’t learned to love their own hair and make silly judgments. And no one should be making comments in front of a child. But some of them may be expressing true compassion for you and the unique challenges of transracial adoption. Instead of judging them as they have judged you, why not see some of these experiences as an opportunity to connect and build understanding. Isn’t that what. Isn’t that what we as Christians are called to do. Often times when I see a white mother with a black daughter with hair that reflects her mother’s lack of understanding for black hair, I feel compassion for them both. Black women know the struggles and pain of loving your hair when white folks and black folks give the message that something is wrong with our hair (and believe me it comes from white people just as much as from blacks). When I see that little girl I wonder if her mother is prepared and has all the tools and resources to help her navigate the hair issue and land in a good place. If she does, great. If not I want that mom to have all the support she needs to raise that child into the awesome black woman God created her to be. So maybe some of those ladies methods are wrong, but maybe their intentions are pure. Don’t be so quick to judge, assume, and become defensive. It makes you no different than the women you are admonishing. And more importantly, you might miss out on opportunity for dialogue that could be a beneficial to you all.

  • http://www.NancyFrench.com/ Nancy French

    Thanks for the advice. Yes, I try to do braids — not too tight, but I have made that mistake too. :) For the first day of kindergarten, we are going to do all over braids, and hope they last for a bit!

  • cj

    uhm yeah so here is my thing, one there is nothing wrong with a child wearing an afro whether you are giving her scalp a break or not. Mama you got to get some thick skin and tell these very nosey women to butt out. Stop justifying your hair routine with people who are just talking out the side of their necks, I wear my hair in a fro all the time and I get more negative comments from ignorant black women telling me how great my hair would look if I’d just press it. Well I don’t want to press it, I like th control I have over my hair. My daughters will not be pressed or relaxed until they are adults and hopefully they will choose not to. The next time someone addresses your daughter directly about her hair, step in and tell them to not speak to her about her hair, the two of you love it and that is all that matters. I have more of an issue with black women perming their two year olds or putting in hair damaging weaves in their heads, but it is not my place to tell them.
    You are her mother and moms don’t always get it right but as long as you love her and you teach her to love herself she will be just fine.

    • LaDeidra L. Allen

      all weaves aren’t damaging…they help hair grow well braids do just not tightly

  • Raya

    I am surprised you are getting all these people commenting on you putting your daughters hair is an afro. Maybe its because you live down south? Because here in Michigan and if you look around on the internet many black woman are realizing that constantly straightening their hair with heat and relaxers is really bad for black hair and many black are learning how to wear their natural hair and how to handle it. But you should go to you tube and watch Naptural85′s channel she has lots and lots of videos on how to wear natural black hair- How to define and stretch natural curls naturally so they long long and pretty and less frizzy and she also uses all natural products and she normally makes them with natural ingredients that will probably be lots cheaper than buying natural hair care products. I’m in high school and I noticed that the other black girls that where their natural hair have the most beautiful when they wear straight and its super long and healthy. My mother thinks the only pretty hair is straight hair she made me get a relaxer when I was 5. My hair stopped growing and didn’t even cover my nape for years. Then after begging she finally let me stop getting relaxers when I was 13. I think all the teasing I was getting at school and all the kids calling me bald headed finally got through to her. but now she makes me go to a beauty salon to get my hair straightened every 2 weeks. My hair beutition blow dry my hair with a hair dryer that gets super hot and blows smoke, then she presses it with hot comb until its bone straight, then she goes over every piece of hair with flat iron. With all the heat its extremely hard for me to grow my hair. Since I couldn’t stop her from making me go to the hair salon I found the best hair extension stylists in my area and payed 110$ for sew in extensions I got those every 4 months for a year. But I had to stop getting them because I they were too expensive. but my hair had grown to my shoulders. My hair had to textures in it half way was straight to the ends and to my roots poof- I wasn’t able to see how my real hair texture was because I still had a lot of perm. My permed ends started breaking off badly 9 months later I couldn’t afford to keep getting extensions until my hair had grown long enough to cut the last of the relaxer and still have some length. And I didn’t want to cut off all my hair because its the longest my hair had ever been and I didn’t want t go back to being the bald headed black girl. so I did tons of research and found that black hair grows fastest when you where it naturally for long periods of time. so I washed my hair with all natural products stretched my curls as best I could and pined it up with bobby pins it looked like I had a curly pony tail. I thought It was super cute and so did my friends when I sent them pictures. But my mom saw it and said she couldn’t believe I went to school with my hair like that she said I looked crazy and other girls don’t where their hair like that and she said its wild and unprofessional. When she said other girls she meant other girls that are not black. By society girls with straight flowy hair are the most beautiful is not true. And I highly doubt that women that are not black spend hours on their hair before they go to work or a meeting other women wash and blow dry and maybe straighten quickly with the flat iron and some women not even that and they probably spend 20 minutes on their hair- and these women are not considered unprofessional. Why should black women have to spend hours on their hair trying to make it fit to society standards of what looks good- others don’t.
    I could not believe this was really what my mother had thought I always thought she was a strong smart women but hearing these things from her made her look stupid to me. And also society is never going to accept black women’s natural hair and start to see them in a different light if we are all hiding from it by wearing our hair straight all the time and getting relaxers and weaves and doing anything we can to change what god gave us.
    - my mother has very short hair and ever since I can remember it has been very short and never grows. She mad me cut off all my hair. She said se made me because I proved to her I did not know how to take car of it. I tried to show her all my research but she said that everything on the internet was a lie. In-between the two weeks I get my hair done I try not to put any heat on my hair and keep it really moisturized and I take vitamins that help with hair growth and drink a lot of water. And when my edges get slightly poofy my mom always say my hair looks ugly and I need to use a pressing comb or flat iron to fix it. I just ignore her but it really hurts when she say im ugly just because my hair isn’t sleek straight.
    - So the point of my story is. Don’t do this to your kids anyone who reads this. Straight hair is not the only cute hair. Black people just need to learn to manage the hair god gave them. when I turn 18 in 2 years and leave for college I will never look at a another pressing comb, flat iron, relaxer, or sit in another hair salon for hours again.
    Im a junior in high school. Pixie cuts and bobs are in right now plus I had switched to a new school when my hair was long so people knew that I once had had long hair so when I cut people didn’t start calling me bald or anything. My hair does slowly grow if I use the right products and I will just have to keep slowly cutting until the perm is gone. My hair actually grows at a good rate but my relaxed hair is breaking off so it doesn’t look like my hair is growing.
    Just ignore what those black women are saying to you its a good thing that sometimes you let her hair have a break. Check out naptural85′s channel on you tube. And I highly recommend Carols Daughters hair products you can get it at Sephora, or a macys counter but I recommend shopping it online because Sephora doesn’t carry all of their products and macys counter (at least mine) gives really horrible advice. Online you will be able to buy products specific to what your daughter needs.
    They are a little expensive you should try buying the products one time and see if you like them is you do get the membership for 20$ then you will get lower prices on the products which will save some money
    The products that help with my hair growth I get from their is-
    - mimosa hair honey, a moisturizer
    -The olive oil infusion kit, this stuff is gold after you use it leaves rough black hair sooooooo soft!!
    -tui hair oil, its great for daily moisturizing and smells so good I want to eat it!
    -The monoi split end sealer, Its expensive 22$ but it is worth it! I started using this hoping it would help my relaxed ends from breaking off so I could retain length as my hair grew and it worked so good my hair stayed soft for a long time with this. at night I put this on my ends the I lightly used mimosa hair honey then I sealed in moisture with the tui oil and my hair stayed straight and soft and looked so healthy I did this for 2 months. and my hair grew 2 and a half inches which is way more than normal for me. even my hair dresser commented on how much my hair had grown.
    -The monoi hair shampoo I cant pin point what exactly this does for my hair I think my hair looks healthier when I use this. Love this shampoo but did not like the conditioner at all!

  • Kim S.

    Then make sure her hair doesn’t look a mess – hair in its natural state isn’t innately healthy but requires conditioning and treatment. Perhaps some of the women making comments are trying to be helpful based on how the child’s hair appears. In some instances, consider the content of the message and not its poor delivery. You may consider this feedback harsh but keep this in mind: kids are even more cruel.

  • haley-sue2

    Relax…. People like to connect by finding a common theme to make conversation over. The world didn’t end. When people are making ordinary conversation, either take the advice or walk away and forget it. Nobody really cares. You’re making a big deal out of adopting a black child. She’s a child. Children are cute, People like to engage them. Get the freakin chip off your cold shoulder

  • Levedi

    Thank you for writing this article. And thank you to all the black women who responded with love and insight and hair tips. Today I was introduced to a marvelous little baby girl who may become my adoptive daughter. (She’s in the foster care system.) If I am lucky enough to adopt her, I want her to grow up knowing that her natural hair is beautiful, but I never want her to feel unkempt or unloved. And I want her to grow up a strong woman who does her hair any way she likes without hair shame. I know that won’t be easy in our culture. So thank you all for this. It really helps.

  • afrosaxon1

    No, but the psychological damage of growing up in a white family where the parents clearly hold ridiculous, patronising and racist views will be severely detrimental to a black child’s sense of self. It’s sad that these children only have two rubbish options, albeit one arguably less rubbish than the other.

  • afrosaxon1

    I’m not in the habit of giving unsolicited advice to strangers..and I’m black. And can we please stop feeding into this idea that black women are any more ‘testy’ than white women? Cheers.

    • AlwaysBlossom

      oh please, the average Black person will open their mouths or stare at you until you get the hint that something ain’t right lol. I can’t stand Blacks who are more fit to be outliers in the grand scheme of things position themselves as if they are the overall.

  • baerri89

    I enjoyed reading this article because I could relate. I’m not white and have not yet adopted any children, (although, after my husband and I complete college and are more stable financially, we plan to adopt). I am a 23 year old african-american mother who is NATURAL. I have an 18 month old son who is also natural with long kinky soft hair. I often twist and braid his hair, very rarely to I let him wear it in an afro. ONLY because he is a ROUGH and RAMBUNCTIOUS 18 month old boy. Ever tried picky fall leaf and sand particle from a child who refuses to sit for more than 10 minutes? NO thank you. BUT when he was younger and less mobile, and before I knew how to braid or twist, he sported an afro. I have had MANY women and men assume that when his hair is in an afro, that I don’t know how to do my sons hair. When I was learning to braid, his aunts and paternal grandmother would make comment about his hair and the lack of skill shown in the styles I had worked really hard to complete. Family members words are the words that cut the deepest. I defend my son and his kinky hair. It does not change the fact that their comments, “concerns”, are insulting, and disrespectful. I love that this mom has done research, and has a deep understanding about black women and the painful history of our hair. She understand that her child physically will identify with the black community. She seems to truly lover her child and wants what is best for her. I know black women who are raising black children who have NO CLUE why they relax their 2 year old hair, many who don’t know how to braid, and many who make comments to their children that make their children feel insecure and ashamed of their own hair in its kinky state. This white mom knows what she is doing. Women should be less hard on each other and support each other.

  • Joshall Izzam

    You need to ignore those black women who are giving you advice . Half of those women are trying to have hair like you’res and are confused about themselves .
    You said your favorite style for your daughter is her fro , well my dear your completely right . The first hairdo in Egypt was a fro backed up by braiding . So
    you keep following you’re instincts . You see ,, a lot of these black women who
    are advising you to put products in your daughters hair are burning out their own
    hair so it will lay flat on their head . And that’s the point,, they have to burn something out for that to happen with no consideration as to what they are burning out. And if they don’t burn then they cover ( hair hat seems to come to mind ).
    Ignore these people completely and keep doing what you’re doing . You have
    a beautiful daughter.

  • Ariell

    I am a black woman with natural hair. It wasn’t easy to become natural because it is not the norm. I believe when anyone comments on your daughter hair that is why. A lot of black women fix their hair to be totally opposite of what it is naturally. They also put down any person who does other wise. Stand up for your daughter when those instances of rude comments are addressed to you, especially in front of her. Make her proud and confident of herself. Stay humble and insist it is not their business what hairstyle your daughter wears. You love her very much. If I can read that through your writing, I know anyone can see it in person. Do what works for you.

  • fabmovements rivera

    I am sorry that you have ha such a hard time, but it is very simple when white women have biracial children with a black man or adopt a black child, hair care and maintenance is necessary. We black women if you research by simply looking at pictures on line take pride in styling our children’s hair especially our girls. I know many black women who can not braid or do not have the time due to a hectic schedule, so they rely on the services of black american or African owned hair salons. This is why you receive the questions and stares from the black women you encounter, all it takes is for you to seek out these hair care professionals, while you continue to practice your hair care skills. I honestly feel that white women do not see the urgency because for the most you guys get up and go, yes I know many white women style and maintain their hair beautifully. Yet your daughter honestly will not know how to care for her hair if she is not around members of her racial community so that she can understand. I know your a great mom, and you love your daughter, but hair in the black community is deeper than what you see. It is a daughter sitting on the floor talking to her mom about her day, because that time is a bonding moment. If you are in a predominantly white community step out, cross the town boarders and go into a black community, sit in a salon with your daughter and maybe you will be able to gain an understanding as will she.

  • http://lovesgumbo.com Brooke @ LovesGumbo.com

    Beyoncé has been criticized for her daughter’s free hair. I have too. We are both Black women, it doesn’t just happen to women like you. You have to learn to say “who cares” to ignorance. That’s what you signed up for when you adopted a black child. We deal with all kinds of ignorance all the time, and we have to say ” who cares.” Your daughter’s Afro is awesome BTW!

  • AlwaysBlossom

    One of two things 1.) The Afro was unkempt/dry and they suggested braiding/natural hair salons to make it easier for you 2.) They have hang ups which are rampant in the Black community. However, the overall intent is that your child will be best taken care of, that’s why they said what they said. Something had to be wrong if someone literally took you down an aisle lol. Growing pains, comes with the territory. We tend to not like transracial adoptions much because they look like White savior rescue trips and the intent is questioned, especially when it’s made into a trend (Angie, Madonna, Sandra etc). I always feel for Black children raised in White families, they usually have a lot of identity issues because the parent(s) didn’t take the time to truly understand what being Black is. Oh and PLEASE DO NOT LET PEOPLE touch your child’s hair like she’s a pet. Afrosaxon gave some good info. We take pride in our hair.

  • e

    WHAT?

    just do what the hell you like, and what the hell she likes. this is insanity. ignore idiot society.

  • LaDeidra L. Allen

    sorry to give u more hair advice but in order to wear a proper fro is to put product in it. and when she gets older she’s have to tie it up at night so it won’t dread up. I understand that people can be rude but sometimes u just gotta listen but to the right ppl. i know u listened to a woman’s blog…vanilla care…but to fully understand a black woman’s hair is to actually be black. and there is so much more to it than styling because our hair is 100 times more fragile than white pples and it takes a lot of care in order for it to grow and become healthy. so if u do like the fro’s. make sure u are doing it right like picking the naps out with a comb every night, don’t wash it everyday becuz she need those natural oils, use a DEEP conditioner every 2 months, clip her ends every 6 months, and buy a silk wrap to tie it up every night. this is how u properly go natural along with other things. without breaking off the child’s hair which will eventually happen if u don’t take good care of it. The price of having a black female is that u have to know her and her roots and what feels and is going to feel. and how society will look at her. if u love her, im not saying u don’t, just saying if u love her then you’d be on top of the game about her hair by becoming friends with a black female who has gone natural or gone to a stylist that is black. but i do understand about the boldness of ppl sorry about that geez

  • LaDeidra L. Allen

    i agree with u im fully black and a lot of black women don’t know how to take care of their hair but hair stylist who are black know how to especially take care and a lot of women who go natural do. it just depends on the person honestly.

  • LaDeidra L. Allen

    just keep raising ur daughter and God bless. don’t get so frustrated w/ others. my mom was in the store the other day, and she was followed and hassled by the owner becuz she was black. this actually happens very often. don’t be surprised if this happens to ur child when she gets older, i mean if it happened to oprah then it could happen to anyone. its not just racist ppl. black ppl do steal too haha so can’t solely blame one race or another. just keep movin and raise ur B.A.P. black african princess.

  • katataksrainbow

    To be honest I was hoping she would respond and open up a dialogue but I’m not exactly surprised that she didn’t. Raising children of colour is one of those things that seems to always put adoptive parents on the defensive. If Nancy has yet to seriously reflect on her own privilege as a white woman and what it will mean to raise a black girl to be an emotionally stable adult (who will.. wait for it..: become a black woman) than no doubt she saw my comment as an indirect attack (from another bitchy black woman) that she could not navigate without exposing something about herself she isn’t ready to deal with.

  • Conversations With Hair

    It really moved me that you took the time to learn such intricate styles for your daughter’s hair. I have seen the black mothers of biracial children or children with biracial type of hair (looser curls) take less time with their daughter’s hair. My sister, my mother and I were scandalized to see, let her biracial daughter’s hair lock up in the back. But then again, my sister was exhausted and my niece has a lot of hair. We are all black (mom, sister and I) btw. But seriously, tears came to my eyes when I saw that you styled your daughter’s hair as carefully and lovingly as any “black” mom. That being said, I still don’t think you have to take any crap for letting your daughter wear her afro. As a black woman who has gone through every hair permutation, let me tell you, sistas can be so brainwashed and downright afraid of our own hair textures, it’s sickening. Other black women have attacked me for my hair in it’s frizzed out state, and I have let my fellow black women convince me that my natural hair is not good enough, including cousins and friends. It’s insidious and awful. As a mother of biracial (black and white) son, it has been black women who have snickered insidiously when I have let my son’s hair go. I can “do hair” with the best of them, but why are we so afraid of a little frizz? Once again, I am sickened at how this culture has made us so afraid of ourselves-the first human- the African hair texture, whose tendrils defy gravity and reach to the Heavens. I’m waxing a little poetic there, but we need some poetry to describe the unique glory of African black hair. My son has “good” hair by brainwashed standards, but I used to try and control it by conditioning at every hair wash and puttling leave in conditioner . One day my son was sick of all the fuss, (as was I) and asked for no conditioner and no product. And I thought, why not? Why can’t he have an afro as his mom has in the past? (I rock dreadlocks now). So, he has been going without much maintenance to his hair and he still is pretty cute. And his hair is getting less “good” and more like my texture. And he owns it, is happy with his fro and himself. Please keep up the good work of reminding your daughter that her hair is her crown, her halo, her connecting device to her intuition, to the Heavens, to God. Black people are the only beings on the planet with that type of hair, marking us, as poet Kola Boof would say, as being very special indeed.

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com/ Nancy French

      Thank you so much for this note!!

      • Conversations With Hair

        Thought you might find this interesting. No mother is above being shamed for letting her daughter’s natural beauty show.

        http://www.examiner.com/article/beyonce-s-daughter-gets-blasted-blue-ivy-s-hair-criticized-by-the-internet

        • http://www.NancyFrench.com/ Nancy French

          Oh my goodness!

          That is a little comforting! :)

          • Conversations With Hair

            I was thinking as I watched a documentary on Muhammed Ali and I wanted to say this one more thing. The women who come up to you and say things are themselves little black girls who experienced a great deal of rejection, overtly and covertly, subliminally and directly for who they were and are as women. It is difficult for you and your daughter, but in a way, all of these women are your daughters- in that, they experienced the same shame that they are unwittingly inflicting upon their child – and by extension- you. Sometimes, as a black woman, it is an act of will to not be incredulous that the fact of our blackness and beauty has been so reviled in so many ways throughout our recent colonial history. When these women say these things to you, it might help to remember that they are coming from a place of pain. I know its hard to be compassionate to some stranger who calls you out, it’s often work to be so and it’s often an unexpected bit of work, when you are out trying to get your errands done. I wonder what would happen if you popped out with, “you know my daughter’s untouched natural hair is beautiful. As I know yours is. As I know you are.”Or, ” I know someone shamed you about your natural hair but I think you and my daughter are beautiful without any work or effort.” LOL! No actual human can think of things like that in the moment when they feel under attack, but trust me, as a black woman, that is the deeply layered subtext of these conversations. These women are terrified that you might not protect your daughter from scorn and ridicule, the same scorn and ridicule to which they themselves either were subjected or ran the risk of being subjected. Maybe if you approach it with compassion, just in your thoughts, it won’t feel so hurtful or violating when people say things to you. Understand the collective memory of black American women is filled with rape and violation and subjugation. (as well as overcoming and strength and transcendence but the pain is still there nevertheless.) These women are terrified by those subconscious, collective, cellular memories of pain, and they are terrified for your daughter’s sake. You might benefit from reading some natural hair blogs on Youtube and on the Internet. You might find a lot of support in your desire to let your daughter’s hair just be as well as a lot of black women who have made the journey from self rejection to self love.

          • http://www.NancyFrench.com/ Nancy French

            Thank you so much for this note… I think you are onto something….

          • http://www.NancyFrench.com/ Nancy French
  • Ms. Courtesy

    I agree with Nancy, I have african ancestry along with native american and latino DNA and I would never presume to say anything to a white parent about their black child’s hair. If they want a black woman’s advice they will give it. IF the child is growing up in a loving enviroment who cares if she is wearing an afro or if her braids are perfect or not?

  • Destinee

    @NancyFrench:disqus Hi, im a 16 year old African American girl reading your article. I understand why you would be upset at the things these black women you mentioned have said to you regarding your daughters hair. I agree that the way they approached you about it was absolutely wrong and I would be upset too. I don’t believe they have a right to tell you that you are doing something wrong just because they themselves are black. It upsets me that they would feel the things they said are ok. ~ I stumbled upon this article just doing research before I start a blog regarding this topic about hair care. Im simply making this blog because I have noticed lately that a lot more white parents are adopting black children. It makes me happy to see this. There are a lot of white people, as well as other races, whose parents allow there children to befriend African Americans or themselves are friends with African Americans, but then when it comes to a more personal level such as their child dating the other race it is not okay. I feel that this is wrong as if they believe we are bad people judging just by skin color instead of the individual person as we do not all act ghetto or uneducated and uncivilized like the majority of blacks do, unfortunately. Again, for this reason it feels good to see white parents like yourself with black children in their family as if they are their own, not seeing skin color but instead just the person. So for this reason I was inspired to start a blog as just a way for parents who are seeking help, tips, or advice and cant find it anywhere else. I felt that it would be nice for parents to have a place where they can find advice from one like myself, as I am “African” American, and have had to deal with this hair for 16 years, and I can say that I am STILL learning and experimenting. Therefore, I simply want to share the things I have learned along the way regarding how to care for African American hair in hopes that someone might find it helpful. ~ And by the way im not quite sure why any African American would comment on your childs afro as this is nothing new and many black women wear this style. That is ridiculous and im sorry there are other black women giving bad impressions. Also, many black women are “going natural” so it is becoming more common…. ~ I hope you understand what I am trying to say as I am not good at explaining things haha.

  • Destinee

    @NancyFrench:disqus Id also like to add that I agree with Jay, some people are just mean and low. But I really hope you don’t see any advice from blacks as an attack because not all of us have those intentions. The way you worded your article made it seem as if you will only accept advice from other white mothers who have also adopted and are completely done listening to blacks, as there are some of us like myself who just want to share our personal experience first hand to help others who may need it.
    Anyway, its funny that these women you mentioned try to “help” you in such a rude way when half the black population either has weave or stiff, dry, coarse, hair and do not even know what they are doing themselves. Id also like to add, to the people who have commented about your daughter “needing” to grow up in a black home to learn how to do her own hair that you are wrong. I can say from personal experience that learning to do my hair was just a matter of watching youtube videos all day. Everything I now know regarding care for my African American hair is thanks to youtube women. My mom is not the one who taught me as she would take me to the salon to get my hair done starting young at about age 8 (which is what most black parents do, which we are now learning to stop and just be natural) and did the same for her own hair. So I did not learn much from my mom except for wrapping my hair. And that is perfectly okay! I disagree that a black child needs to grow up in a black home to know how to do her hair! Each individuals hair is different and it is just a learning process!

    • NikkG

      True. And truth be told, we give each other the same advice. When I first went natural, my other natural friends were sure to tell me that wash and go is a style, but it takes about two hours to get that look without it turning into a frizz ball by the end of the day. It was all about product, and diffusing. Not literally wash it and go.

  • Lisa N

    Good for you mom! I agreed with this article except the fact you use bands for the ends of her hair, it really isn’t necessary and it just causes breakage. Good luck to you!!!


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