Firmly Rooted in My Scalp




When I was younger

My mother couldn’t manage my hair

It stood out in defiance back then

This raging creature, a mass of kinks, coils and curls

Rooted firmly in my scalp, a true flagship of my heritage

We always treated it like the enemy

Comb destroyer, my mother would intone darkly

Breaker of peace, my father would contribute jovially

The next-door neighbour even went as far as calling it a doormat

Yet it was rooted firmly in my scalp, a stain on my existence

Let’s make this easy, we thought

I’d watch in awe as my mother would heat up our latest saving grace

And sit deathly still so as not to receive a burning kiss

The smell of singeing hair as it passes through the teeth of a hot comb

Was the scent of a creature straightening to defeat

And it was rooted firmly in my scalp, a bolster to my confidence

This could be easier, we agreed

I held my mother’s hand as we walked through the store

And watched her read the instructions on the box with a smiling girl when we got home

I wanted to be that girl

She had smooth dark skin like mine and this halo of perfectly straight jet-black hair

Rooted firmly in my scalp, a source of my pride and joy

The years went by

From youth to adolescence to young adulthood

I wore my hair in braids, wigs, weaves

Anything to cover up what had become of my defiant creature

Now limp and broken, with not a kink in sight

Turning this shade of off black that lent me a look of malnourishment

Rooted firmly in my scalp, the bane of my being

It wasn’t an easy decision to make

I wrestled with it for weeks, turning it over and over in my mind

Because you see I’d learned as a child

That straight hair meant true beauty

That kinks and coils meant inferior beauty

Rooted firmly in my scalp, the reason for my confusion

I vividly remember the day I cut all my hair off

The feelings of dread, of loss, of doubt, of disbelief, of fear

Of wondering if I had sentenced myself to being less than others

But I also remember the better feelings

Of relief, of excitement, of joy, of awe, of non-conformance

Of empowering myself to unlearn what I had been taught

Rooted firmly in my scalp, a symbol of my fresh start

Now I wear my crown with pride

This halo of kinks, coils and curls

This defiant creature that does not listen or conform

Slathered in coconut oil and shea butter, standing out like a beacon of light

Rooted firmly in my scalp, a true testament to my beauty.


- Chloe Sibanjene

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© 2018 Created by Anesu Mautsa