In His Eyes

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My first interview is with the brother that schooled me on the beauty of natural hair … my pops!

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by Weusi

Q: Where are you from? Did you grow up around women that had perms or natural hair styles?
I grew up in Charlottesville, VA. My upbringing could be depicted as a mixture of “Cooley High” and “The Help.” The ladies in my family, Pie-Pie (grand-mother), Mama Lillie (great-grandmother), Catherine (my mother), Juanita and Elsie (my aunts) and Cookie (my sister), were considered light-skinned with soft hair. Perms were considered to be for “hard and kinky” hair, so they didn’t get perms. They had hair that was straightened with a hot comb and/or curled.

Q: How did that influence your ideas of physical beauty?
In terms of its effect on me, I never thought about it being different from a perm until much later in life. It didn’t really matter to me when I was young. I was surrounded by pretty women. Mostly light-skinned, but the matriarchal grandmother of the house was a blue-black, dark-skinned woman who was not tolerating any light-skinned/dark-skinned nonsense and really helped to counter societies bias against dark-skinned women.

Q: Who were some of the people/celebrities that you saw as beautiful growing up with natural hair, straightened and/or chemically relaxed hair?
Lola Falana, Gladys Knight, Sophia Lauren, Roberta Flack, Raquel Welch … and the lady in the “Come back to Jamaica” commercial and poster!

Q: Your wife/my mother wears her hair natural now. How do you like it?
I am very much a product of the 1960’s and my wife went natural during “the movement” in the 1960s. She has stayed that way since. This was a time when many of us came into an understanding of life in the US as Blacks. We were shouting “I’m Black and I’m proud” and were modeling our pride and appreciation of who we are … especially the natural woman. When she left her perm behind and went natural … what a beautiful match to her sway and gorgeous legs! (Yes, your Mom!)

Q: Did you get push back from your family about bringing home a afro-pick wearing chocolate sister!?! I know that they joked with you about having nappy-headed kids, didn’t they!?!
My family did not push back on a dark skin woman and natural hair. Remember, on my side, Uncle Wyatt and my father were dark-skinned and Mama Lillie was dark-skinned too. And she made it known that she had my back! She said, “The boy gotta do what the boy gotta do for his people.” So she supported my activism and revolutionary stances. And my revolutionary looks and actions. The push back on color came from your Mom’s family who was skeptical of her marrying into a family of light skin folks.

Q: Wait. I’ve seen picture when my mom’s hair was straightened (or permed) but that was before me. Has she ever had a perm since she met you? If she did, how did you feel about it? And how did you address it or did you?
She has had a perm, but honestly … I had forgotten about that stint where she straightened or permed her hair. I didn’t remember until we were looking at old pictures and you showed them to me.

Q: Did you two discuss the hairstyle change or did she just do it?
I never felt that I had the right to dictate that. I always realized that it was important for a woman to feel good about her fashion presentation. I used to be quick to think that some of the bold styles were because of high self-esteem. I stood corrected. Unfortunately, it is often a masquerade for high self-esteem or a ploy to attract attention for all of the wrong reasons. When I came to this conclusion, it blew my mind. Luckily, with my wife, she was natural within strong social circle that attached it to certain morals and social norms. It was a part of our evolution and growth together.

Q: Your daughter grew up with a natural hairstyle. There were times when she was mistaken as a boy. What made you make that decision to keep her natural and how do you think it affected her upbringing (social, political, cultural influence)? Did you style your daughter’s hair when she was young?
Kia [my daughter] was largely natural because I knew how to take care of a natural head and that was about all that your Mom could do also. Remember, she raised kids, but I cooked and did heads!

Q: Are there any natural hair styles that you like the best?
No, I just appreciate the natural sister. And, as my wife matures with the hint of natural gray to silver, I find it absolutely beautiful. Let it stay natural. No wigs, no weaves, no color.

Q: Do you keep up with your woman’s hair regimen? Do you know how often she washes her hair? Conditions? Colors? Deep conditions? Etc.?
I keep up with some behaviors, probably not with a great deal of detail. She has a short natural and has been that way for many years. She washes and condition her hair at least 4 times a week.

Q: Do you know what she uses on her hair? If you were walking down the beauty aisle, would you know what to pick up for your lady?
Sorry, but I do not know the name of the hair products that she uses. I will go with her to shop, but would not be able to do it without her.

Q: Have you ever dated a sister that has to wear “headgear” to bed? How did/would you deal with that? What’s your preference? Bonnet, scarf, do rag, hat?!
Yes I have. At that time, she did wear something … if I recall correctly, a scarf to bed. Almost always!! And there was a time when your mother did not have a natural, but permed hair. But she has been natural for most of the past 42 years. Because of this … without any reservations, I do prefer the natural woman

Q: Have you ever been in a situation where you couldn’t put your toothbrush down because there were hair care and beauty products everywhere! If so, can you tell the story of how you dealt with it!?!
I have not had that situation. If anything, my lack of neatness was a problem for her. She was quick to clean the sink and/or vanity. No strands of hair in the sink, toilet or on the floor. Again, it was me that did not clean the mirror or wipe up the toothpaste. She has re-trained me well!

Q: Do you touch Mom’s hair? If the answer is yes … if she ask you not to, how would you feel? If the answer is no … why not?/ and how do you feel about it?
Yes, your mom has found me to be a touchy person … holding her head and rubbing her head has always been a part of our “thing.”

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And that’s that. I hope to have a few more interviews coming from other brothers. Some people who you may know and some you don’t. Some speaking about things you’ll like, some saying things you won’t. But … it will all be the truth from a man’s perspective.

Thanks pops … love you old man!

SHiNE

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11 responses »

  1. Pingback: Mommy Hairscapades’ HairStory « hairscapades

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