it's about the hair


... my father saw my afro, I'd just come home  from college for Christmas in 1968...

I can’t recall my mother’s reaction to my no-longer-permed-straight-hair, but my dad, oh man, Bro’ Red’s response was classic. 

Odd though. He worked in a few local barbershops on weekends since the 50s, so he HAD to have seen all the hair styles young people were wearing, now what 1968, Say it Loud, and college students were affirming themselves, protesting and spreading their Black Power all over the land.  We were Black and we were Proud.  He had to know.  He had to expect that I would join the fray, I suppose, of young black women who’d given up the perm. Don’t you think?  No doubt he HAD to have given shapeups to untold numbers of afro sportin’ brothers and sisters who frequented Sam’s on Parrow and Pierson, or Ted’s Barbershop, across the street from Orange Park.  Didn’t he?

So why was he so surprised when he saw ME when I made my grand entrance into the living room?  He looked, saw me, and was silent.  And then I heard him say:

“Hmph.  Why don’t you stick a bone through your nose and grind your teeth down to a point so you can REALLY look like an African?”

My mom quickly looked in the direction of the television and pretended she wasn’t there.

‘Daddy, you’re so ignorant,” I mumbled, and retreated to my room before he heard me.

That memory really cracks me up.  My dad, a part time barber, would be conservative about hair. Who knew?

Love you, Pop.