The video of a mom combing her child’s hair in such a hurtful way, that it has the daughter crying, screaming and running away trying to get out of the hair session, sparked flaming debates for obvious reasons. One blogger felt the daughter’s pain so deeply that she called Child Protected Services persistently to report this as child abuse. As a consequence all three children are now removed from their mother which sparked even greater debate.
Although I am an advocate for natural hair, and I even agree that combing a child’s hair this way is abusive, I don’t think the mother deserves to be separated from her children. Not that the abuse is not that big of a deal. It certainly is but what I think this mother needs more than anything is something the Black community needs and has needed for a very long time: a nappy education.
If you have watched the video and managed to see pass the horrendous abuse you could have noticed that the rest of family had fun. It is very likely the reason why the video was posted in the first place. Just to ridicule a little sister and share some common family fun with the rest of the world. Completely innocent, just like millions of others who post their videos on Youtube for the same reason. Also, totally unaware of any abuse let alone the consequences this might have. What we need to learn from this horrifying video is that racking through a child’s hair and making fun of nappy hair is no joke. Although I lack the scientific evidence to back it up, I sincerely believe that these habits are the kind of child abuse that continues to the obsessive compulsive straightening behavior that is so commonly accepted in our community. If you think this statement is far fetched, please read the following quotes.
In fact, “73% of African American women complain of breakage, split ends, and dryness caused by relaxers,” said Dr. Miller, a dermatologist at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey in a piece by DAMIAN McNAMARA published by Skin & Allergy News (Magazine/Journal 2001).
In his book Beautiful Black Hair, Shamboosie a 20 plus year veteran of the Hair Care Industry who is not against straightening states in a paragraph entitled:
The dryness caused by the use no-lye relaxers;
The average Black female will find that almost every female she knows, young and old, is dealing with the devastating problem of dry hair and breakage.
This horrendous video gives away the uncomfortable issue the Black community has failed to acknowledge and address for a very long time; our bad hair care practices.
Too few of our daughters in the Black community have fond memories of sitting between our mom’s legs while she does our hair. What out to be an harmonious bounding experience that affirms a daughter’s beauty has become torturous sessions that make many a Black girl long for silky straight “good” hair.
The staggering numbers are proof that we rather straighten our hair beyond repair than walking around nappy. Our daughters, who are usually born with a beautiful head full of hair, are the first to suffer from hair loss in their precious teenage years because we still ridicule nappy hair. Nowadays you can even spot four year old children with the relaxer induced alopecia symptoms Dr. Miller is talking about. It is heartbreaking to see a young kid with a damaged scalp but what is even worse is that this number is increasing because we belief that a natural solution for a sensitive child’s scalp is a so called mild no-lye kiddy perm. Less destructive, healthier options like locs or a simple short afro aren’t even taken into consideration.
Our behavior regarding our hair has to change quickly and dramatically as the number of damaged scalps in our community is really clearly unacceptable. It is time to own up to the unhealthy heads and acknowledge that the number of Black women with hair and scalp issues is disproportional by any standard. The lack of love and respect for our hair leads us to damage our tresses at any cause and we need to realize that chemical manipulation for decades in a row is destructive and may even leave our future babies born bald.
Some of us may realize that it is no easy task to get to the root of our hair issues as they are tangled in a contemporary web with complicated threads dating back to slavery. Yet this video shows us that we can’t ignore the elephant in the room any longer. We finally need to face up to this problem collectively as a people to save our crowns of glory.
Drs. Mireille liong-A-Kong is owner of the Black Hair Care Magazine Going-Natural.com, photographer behind The Pursuit of Nappiness and organizer of America’s Next Natural Model. Her ultimate objective is a wider acceptance of natural hair styles as well as promoting healthy hair care practices that will lead to healthier hair and scalps in the Black community.
Link to the video. Be ware that it’s painful to watch: Click here