Behind the Blog: Hair and Race Issues

This post was originally written in April 2013, but never published. I cannot tell you the exact reason to why I didn't publish it, I guess I wasn't ready. But reading it now, more than a year later it made me realize that though I didn't publish it I still did some of the things I've mentioned in the post. I've focused more on hair and race related issues on the blog and will continue to do so. A lot of race issues of people of African descent in Sweden have been shed light on over the last year, and we continue to talk about our experiences and our right to be here. Hair is not just hair, it is a part of our identity, and will always be.   
(If you haven't read "Americanah" yet, do it!)




April 2013
For my Twitter followers it's no news that I'm currently reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's latest novel "Americanah". The book is a perfect blend of things that are very essential in my life: hair, race, relationships and blogging. This will not be a book review, just hit Google if you are looking for that.

Reading this book has kinda been like having a conversation with a friend I didn't know before I picked up the book. Most of my conversations in real life are about race, men (relationships) and hair. Being dark skinned (even though I'm fairly light) /black/of African descent in Sweden/Europe has made me subject to an array of experiences, good and bad. Actually, to be honest the race related experiences I've had are mostly bad.
The blog is turning two this month and somehow I've felt stuck when it comes to where I want to go with HoH. I've often shied away from race related issues, or toned down ("cleaned up") my opinion when blogging. Partly because I don't want the blog to be my personal let out for frustration, it started as an educational platform and I want to keep it that way. And partly because I wasn't prepared to deal with the consequences it may come with. I've tried hard to not mix race and hair issues too much on the blog, only posting things once in a while like my post about Biracial hair and international adoption. But reading "Americanah" just made me realize that I'm doing a disservice to myself and probably some of my readers by not addressing the hair joined to race issues more openly. I've written stuff like "because hair is apart of ones identity" but not mentioned how a white mother with a biracial/black child is doing her child a great disservice, even possibly hurting their self image by not caring for their hair properly. It makes the child feel less than his or her white counterparts. It also makes that child feel less in contact with black people who's kids hair is usually taken care of in some way.

I started this blog to help. I don't want children that look like me (biracial, black, African - I identify as all of the above) to go through the things I went through because of my hair which ultimately is because of my race. But to be honest they will. I see children with poorly taken care if hair a lot and I see myself. It has not gotten better, being a black/African person in Sweden, we are still a minority, we still stand out in a crowd and we still have deal with a lot if ignorance and racism on a day to day basis. I hope that this blog opens the eyes of some parents with black/biracial kids and makes them realize that their child needs help to build a strong sense of self and to his or her identity to succeed in this world. It doesn't matter how cute you think your child is, how Swedish (or any other European/white nationality) you see your child to be, society will see a black/African person and your child will be treated accordingly. And that is usually in a disrespectful or ignorant way. I know this may seem harsh, but it's just me being honest. A lot of people regardless of race refuse to admit to this honesty believing that there is no racial divide, because admitting to it means you have to deal with it. People are quick to say "There's only one race, the human race" which is true. But we (society) are not treating each other like we are one race! So instead of closing our eyes and declaring that there's only one human race, let's deal with the reality that is today. We all want a better world, but pretending there are no race issues isn't changing a single thing.

The point of this post is simple, I will continue to post about hair like I have in the past. But, I will be more open about race issues in the future. Hair is just hair, but hair is also a manifestation of race. I think about hair daily as well as race, one does not exclude the other, so neither will it here on Hair of Heritage.

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