This year makes ten years since I finished college. It seems like not ten years, but then like a lifetime ago. So many things have happened since then. My whole world has changed.
I try not to romanticize the person I was ten years ago, the life I had in my late teens, early twenties. I know that things happen as they must, and I love the life I have now. At the same time, sometimes, I find myself missing that girl, and that life. Missing going to see the Roots and Kweli every time they hit New Orleans, having all the people at the record store near my apartment know me well enough to tell me what came out that I might be interested in. Sometimes I miss spending most of my time on the road, driving and flying around the country organizing and talking about the prison industrial complex.
Sometimes, as I get older, and get more wrapped up in building a solid family, I feel like I can’t see myself. I lose sight of the things that I want to do. I can vaguely remember that I have non-human things to give birth to, but there are so many other things in my brain — some of it important, some of it clutter — that I can’t make heads or tails. And I feel stuck.
And then I put on some Badu, and she makes me feel like myself. She reminds me of what I’m here to do, and shows me how to move all the fog, all the voices, and get down to work.
So tonight, I’m listening to e. badu. And I’m bout to give birth to church.
I’ve been working on a few posts for the past few weeks, but have been blocked. Hopefully I’ll be able to get them out soon.
I’ve been having lots of conversations with my husband about the peculiarities of having a Black girl-child, and the decisions one has to make. Black parents have their own sets of additional concerns, which I have been considering for as long as I’ve been a parent. However, having a girl opened up a new set of questions.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the politics of Black hair. I decided pretty early on to loc the big kid’s hair. It wasn’t a hard decision. It had always been a possibility. My husband has what my people have referred to as “good hair”. I, on the other hand… well, I’ll just say that when I decided to grow out my hair, one of my aunts looked at me, concerned, and said, “You know you don’t have good hair, right?” During my pregnancy, and when Manikins was very small, there were the questions: “What do you think his hair will be like? Do you think he will have good hair like his dad? Where are his dad’s people from?” I knew that I didn’t want good hair/bad hair conversations to be a part of his upbringing. One would be surprised how differently people can treat you based on your hair type (unless of course you’ve been on the receiving end of this differential treatment). So, my husband and I decided to loc his hair, and nurtured the rebel child inside of him in the process.
But now I have this baby girl. The pressure has been on since the womb. I was told from the gate that the freeformed locs that work for my son would not be acceptable for her. My mom gave her a zillion barrettes for Christmas so that she could keep her hair done. And there’s already the waiting and watching eyes, wanting to see what happens when her hair “turns”. There are also the people who ask if I’m going to loc her hair as well. I say, “We’ll see.” I’ve never been too pressed about hair. I enjoy the feeling of getting my hair done, and I actually enjoy doing hair, but I’ve never really cared much about what my hair looks like. But I think about it, and think about what it will mean for her life.
And we talk about it. How we will prepare her for the world. How we will nurture her Black girl spirit, provide her with the tools she needs. Introduce her early to the ones who steeled my spirit and inspired the rebel woman in me. Pass on the lessons I’ve learned from Eloise Greenfield, Nikki Giovanni, bell hooks, Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, Sonia Sanchez and the like. Ensuring that she feels free to be whoever it is she wants to be in this life.