Now I know I probably sound like a broken record constantly writing about these stories of race, hair and class in the Dominican Republic, but I am doing it “expre” like the French say, meaning on purpose. It is my hope that by documenting all of these happenings, I will be able to better understand the particularities of racism and discrimination in this country. I have gotten the opportunity to travel to many places and even live in a few of them and I have first hand accounts of the way racism looks, feels and tastes in many corners of the world. I say this because the kind of racism I experience here is very different than the others. I have ideas as to why it is this way, but I want to really understand it. All of this to tell you what happened to me today.
So I’ve decided to go natural, which means that I am allowing my hair to grow out and not processing it with a relaxer. I relaxed my hair for many reasons, but mainly because I liked the look and because it was what I knew since I was 9 years old. I’ve also decided to go natural for many reasons, but primarily because I don’t remember what my real hair looks like and I am curious to see and feel it au natural and I am also doing it to make the statement that non-relaxed hair is beautiful. I have tried this before and I always ended up relaxing my hair because it was too draining and the hair itself was very difficult to manage. This time, as a way to reaffirm my decision and commitment, I walked into the salon and I cut my hair short. I have never cut off this much hair so it was definitely a big moment, but in the end it is only hair, it grows back, no biggie.
So, I told my stylist that I needed her support during this process because I was going to go in every few weeks and cut more and more of it off. She was very supportive and said that she will help. You know black women and our salons, both here and in the US, it is our place to talk about womanly stuff, boys, family, beauty, etc. So she begins to tell me about her family and her kids and narrates the story of her youngest daughter, “so my last daughter was not planned, I was very sad when I found out that I was pregnant. I went ahead with the pregnancy and when I found out it was a girl, I prayed to God every day until she was born and asked him to give a light skin nice hair baby girl. I didn’t want her to come out black with bad hair like my older daughter. So when she was born and I saw this little pink baby with good hair I was felt so lucky. My husband was on the phone with all of his friends and family telling them that he had a little beautiful light skin baby and that he was so proud. She is the light of this house and everyone loves her so much.”
So you might ask, what did you tell her?! Well, the shock I went into at the moment was too big to allow me to do anything about it. In my head I was like “but she is such a nice lady and she embraces her big hips and her big boobs, I can’t believe she said that, oh lord what should I say, wow this problem is bigger than what I thought.” I did somehow manage to tell her that both of her daughters are very beautiful.