By Emmanuella Agyemang
This story pertains to a time when I confronted my mother about changing my hair.
What is the scariest thing you have done, on purpose?
“Do not get me angry.”
Her words stung like a hot comb against the scalp. Until now, I was not aware of how much my hair meant to her. Instead of it being my hair, it was her hair.
“Mom,” I paused.
“I just don’t want relaxers anymore.”
As the words passed through the air and into her ears she assumed I was not expressing how I wanted my hair, but that I was disrespecting her.
For as long as I can remember, I have gotten relaxers—a chemical product used to take the kinks out of curls. I thought I was born with straight hair. All I had ever known was straight hair. My mother’s hair was straight, my father was bald (so that was not really helpful) and the rest of my family’s hair was straight.
Every two months, right after my box braids were taken out, the thick creamy consistency was slapped onto my new growth.
One day I was scrolling through YouTube and found a video on relaxers. I thought, hey I get those on my hair, but I wonder what it is? Once I heard what relaxers truly did to the hair, I wanted to remove it from my life, so I researched how to “get rid of them.” To my surprise, you could not simply rinse them out. The two options were to either grow it out and cut it when you are comfortable or cut it all off right away. I wanted to get this creamy crack out of my hair, so I took my 10-year-old self from my room, went to my mother and asked her, “Can I go natural?”
During a Girls Write Now Salon with Maria Konnikova, she posed the question, “What is the scariest thing you have done, on purpose?” My mind immediately went to a time when I confronted my mother about going natural. Going natural was scary for me because I had never known what my natural hair looked like. Plus, my mother was completely against it! So when I asked my mother, I was scared, but I proceeded to ask anyway. When writing “Natural Hair,” I allowed my mind to recount that specific moment. I decided to start with a more recent conversation between my mother and me. Then I ended off with a conversation between her and me when I was about 10 years old. Once the reader reaches the end of the story, they can connect the beginning dialogue with the ending dialogue so it reads as one continuous story.
Emmanuella Agyemang is a high school junior and a Girls Write Now mentee. She is most passionate about writing and journalism. Agyemang has been featured in a few news articles and is currently on the Scholastic Magazine Teen Advisory Board. She hopes that by pursuing a career in journalism, she paves a way for other minorities to pursue journalism as well.