Actually, Yes, Everything Is About My Hair


I'Deyah Ricketts, Managing Editor

especially this year’s winter Nutcracker / of course / I sit criss-cross-applesauce / in my mom’s lap as she / pulls a plastic comb through my hair / to soften my stubborn curls / tight and knotted / an intense tug-of-war that / makes my eyes water my nose scrunch and my brows furrow / but trying to stifle the pain of my mom’s / not so gentle touch / is pointless / as tears squeeze from out my eyes / and dribble down my hot face onto the tip of my quivering lip / while the rest of the girls / none of whom look like me / are packed into this humid too-tight dressing room / and don’t need their mom’s help / since they can easily drag a brush / or straightening iron / or curler / through their pin-straight silky hair / and tie it up into the kind of picture-perfect ballet bun / fit for Anna Pavlova’s head / but none of their instruments are my friends / since I can only rely on the stash of bobby pins in my mom’s purse and the sticky black superglue holding my bun down / and as my hair pleads “no” or “stop” in silent defiance / my mom stretches it tighter / until it pulls on the corners of my skin / like one of those overpriced Hollywood facelifts I know I didn’t sign up for / and before I know it / my bun has snapped into place / and my tears have dried / and my ballet teacher is sending me out to take my spot behind the curtains saying / come on girls let’s go / as my mom hastily smears her red lipstick onto my lips and cheeks for her / final touch / but I keep on readjusting the Target tights scratching my thighs and the Polichinelle costume hugging my waist / as my first pirouette pulls me onto the stage / and I’m suddenly drowned out by the show lights / snapping my head to the right / trying to remember how Ms. Courtney taught me to “spot” / but all I want to do is take my bun out / or scratch my tender scalp / as the pins dig deeper / but unable to / since it’d mess up Clara’s big scene / I just spin into my web of thoughts / because to me certain things are unfair / like how Belle and Ariel and Rapunzel never had to deal with hair like mine / like how even when Disney found their token black princess she was a frog for most of the movie and still didn’t have to deal with hair like mine / like how when I scoured Target’s shelves for a doll every birthday not one I found had to deal with hair like mine / like how none of the characters in High School Musical or Hannah Montana or Wizards of Waverly Place had to deal with hair like mine / but should I be ashamed of hair like mine? / no / glory be my hair for being different / glory be the multicolored butterfly clips and monochromatic beads my dad weaves through my twists before work / glory be the fastidious fingers of my African hairdresser who does my box braids on Sunday mornings / glory be the Cantu shampoo that clings to my roots as hot water rains down from my shower head onto my own parched head / glory be my hair salon brimming with juicy gossip and packs of Kanekalon hair / glory be my edges slicked with a toothbrush and a tub of Eco Styling Gel / glory be my trips to the beauty supply on 47th street / glory be my silk bonnet protecting cornrows sew-ins and pressed hair / so no / I will not be ashamed of my hair / because drops of Africa and Jamaica flow from my follicles to my coiled ends / because my 4C texture stands out from the type A texture / because I’m ok with being one of many / because ballet can be for black girls too / and I’ll always have my spot in the humid too-hot dressing room / always have my spot out on stage / always have a spot for my black ballerina bun