So, if you read my last blog post, you know that I recently cut and combed out my locks due to some health concerns.
(s.b. I will be reattaching them, but that is not the moral of this story)
I decided I would play around with my mini fro while I had it. So I made an appointment at a local African Hair Braiding Salon to get my hair braided into a Fro-Hawk.
Now I have had my locks for over 6 years, so its been awhile since I’ve been to an African salon. Honestly, the local salon near my parents’ house was like a home away from home.
And not because I wanted it to be, mind you. I had no choice, since getting your hair braided was like a half-a-day experience. So here’s what I could remember about my second home “for hair”:
I hope your hair was clean before you arrived, because a typical African Hair Braiding Salon has no sink for you. They expect you to pre-wash and then show up. Don’t embarrass yourself.
The stylists here have ish to talk about. And whether you know the language or not, they have no intention to pause their conversation to translate. I hope you have earbuds, and good charge to your phone because you will not understand a word that is said whilst there.
But be sure to keep one earbud out, because prices will be negotiated, and directions will be given (tilt your head up, now down, lean this way, lean that way). And you are expected to be respond in kind.
(The same goes for any Dominican hair salon and/or nail salon)
There is always someone selling something (primarily movies), and these salons are like their assigned paper routes. If you don’t plan on buying anything but the labor being done on your head, just smile and wave. Not too much eye contact. And a simple “no, thank you” will suffice.
When your phone DOES die, you will have either one or two options in the salon to keep you going.
IF THE SALON HAS CABLE:
IF THE SALON DOES NOT HAVE CABLE:
Personally, I prefer the African movies.
And lastly, I remember the looks on the stylists faces when they saw my mane. Even more so, the sounds they would make when they gathered the strength to touch it.
I have THICK hair. Like really thick hair. And I’ve had it my whole life. Hairstylists would surround me and call over other stylists to share in the spectacle.
Some would team up to do my hair, while others would literally do a prayer circle around my fro, and PRAY for the strength to get through it.
And once the style was complete, I’ve witnessed prayer dances in celebration.
None of this is a problem…NOW. But I was really self conscious when I was younger, and I still brace myself for the initial reaction, today.
But what really scarred me was the African salons. The place I felt would be safe from scrutiny. Free of follicle fear. Surely these roots come from my ancestors. Quite possibly, my last pure substance of African lineage must lay in my curls. SO these women will surely welcome me with open arms. Being so used to the thick nature of their hair, I doubt they would be phased by the density of mine.
These women would shame me like all the rest. And then came the “suggestion.”
“MMM. WHY DON’T YOU PERM YOUR HAIR? YOU SHOULD PERM IT.”
“GASP!” NOT YOU TOO!
THEN CAME ANGER…
The only reason braids exist is due to natural BLACK HAIR! Hair like mine is why you have a business!
I’m out here trying to be like you! And you telling me to be like THEM (Caucasian, straight, Anti-Afro, etc.)!
I was hurt. But also made aware that if my people don’t wear their hair natural, and African people don’t approve of natural hair, then the brainwashed mentality of “good hair” goes much deeper and spans much farther than I could have ever fathomed.
SO imagine my hesitation, when more than 6 years later, I walk into an African Hair Braiding Salon – with the same grade of hair I’ve been rocking since birth.
I washed my hair before I walked in there, because STILL no salon sinks.
The language, the bootleggers, and the entertainment were still the same. This salon had cable, so terrible Lifetime movies were on, back to back.
I negotiated my price.
I sat in the chair.
And I proceeded to warn the stylist, before I slipped off my hat.
“You may need some water when combing it, because its pretty thick.”
I took off my hat, and stared at the floor as the familiar “gasps,” filled the room. A few words were spoken in a language (of course) different from my own. And two or three women came to run their hands through my scalp (or attempt to – lol).
And as the stylist settled in and begin to part my hair, she uttered 4 simple words to me.
And NO, they weren’t “YOU SHOULD PERM IT.”
The 4 words she said, in a hushed voice were:
“Everyone loves your hair.”
I almost choked.
And I couldn’t quite believe it, so I said, “HUNH?”
And she repeated, a little louder this time:
“EVERYONE LOVES YOUR HAIR.”
BAAAAAAAAAAY-BE! When I tell you, the pride that filled me up in that moment. I sat up a little straighter, felt a little taller, and my thick head of hair even felt a bit lighter.
For once. Outside of my family and friends, my hair was appreciated by a hair salon. And not just any hair salon. An African Braiding Hair Salon, and you couldn’t tell me nothing.
My People, from this stolen land to the motherland, had evolved over the course of 6 years. And I was happy to have witnessed it. For the first time, I was even happy I cut my locks. Or else how would I have noticed such an immense shift that took place before my very eyes. I would have forever thought of those hair salons in a negative way. But now…
Thank GOD for self love. And Thank GOD for Fro Love.
Peace. And Happy New Year.