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Personal Story: “Learning to Care for My African-American Daughter’s Hair”

As a white mom learns about her black child’s hair, both come of age.

By Annie Kassof

A white mom learns about her black child's hairI knew nothing about African-American hair care when Tasia*, my first foster child, was placed with me at age 2. I fell in love with her, and I adopted her, even though that wasn’t my original plan. Her adoption was finalized last year, and I now know a lot more about her hair. I love doing Tasia’s hair, especially now that she’s six and willingly sits still. She likes it to look good.

I want to be known, among other things, as a white mom who knows how to do black girls’ hair. When I’m alone, I’m just another Berkeley mom. With my black daughter and my multiracial foster kids in tow, I’m self-conscious. I imagine that people notice and remember us. There’s a part of me that wants to be seen as Superwoman. It’s not enough that I care for flocks of kids with no partner to help me. I’ve now demonstrated that I can also do hair, at least well enough for Tasia’s school friends to notice: “Your mom changed your hair again?”

There’s a beauty salon nearby that we drive past all the time.The sign in the window says “Braids and Styles; Children’s Hair; Walk-ins Welcome.” Tasia’s been asking to go there: “I wanna get my hair done perfessinuly.”

My daughter has been exquisitely patient as I’ve learned to style her tightly coiled, medium-length hair: first, making symmetrical parts with a fine-toothed comb and holding the sections together with her hair elastics with the colorful plastic balls—we call them “hair balls”; next, braiding or twisting, then securing the ends with butterfly or flower barettes. I can do French braids, passable cornrows, and hair extensions….

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Personal Story: “Learning to Care for My African-American Daughter’s Hair” Reviewed by on . As a white mom learns about her black child's hair, both come of age. By Annie Kassof [divide style="3"] I knew nothing about African-American hair care when Ta As a white mom learns about her black child's hair, both come of age. By Annie Kassof [divide style="3"] I knew nothing about African-American hair care when Ta Rating: 0

Comments (8)

  • Ashok

    Holiday I don’t think you are in the same position as women who sturggle with infertility so you don’t seem to understand. Your comments reflect how truly uninformed you are about infertility. Most women don’t decide at 40 that they are going to be a mother, they have been struggling and trying for years. My husband and I have been trying since I was 24 and I’ll be 40 in a few years. The negligence of ob/gyns, no insurance that covers ivf, and getting into thousands of dollars of debt because of all the medical costs associated with infertility has stopped us in having a child. Please visit Resolve’s website at resolve.org so that you can be better informed about what is affecting every 1 in 8 couples. You are lucky that you were not affected with infertility and I hope you are never judged the same way you are judging these women. The couples who sturggle with infertility are the strong one’s, I’m sorry, but you’re not even close.

  • Elisa

    I’m right there with ya! Adopted two girls, one whose hair is way harder to do than her sister’s. Our boys are much easier even though I’ve spent hours doing twists on my teenager’s hair.

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