Black women know what goes into keeping their hair healthy and slayed.
But if you’re not Black and have a biracial child or you’ve adopted or fostered a Black child, dealing with Afro-textured hair can be foreign territory. Standard hair rules go out the window. And working with a hair texture different from yours on top of raising a child with a different ethnic background can be nerve-wracking.
According to writer Angela Tucker from Yes! magazine, this is a reality for many transracial families. She explained,
“Many white adoptive parents are realizing they are limited in what they can offer their Black children.”
But luckily, a hairstylist in Chicago has found a solution to bridge the cultural gap many transracial families are having.
Tamekia Swint started the non-profit organization/salon Stylez 4 Kids in the hopes of educating white parents on how to do their adopted Black or biracial child’s Afro-textured hair. She offers classes, workshops, and salon services to help families in the Chicago area.
Tamekia started her company in 2010 when a mother needed help with the hair care of her three adopted daughters. Since then, Tamekia has helped 500 families throughout the United States. In her now viral video, Tamekia said,
“Hair is important for African-American kids because your hair is your crown.”
Black salons are an integral part of the Black experience. And by teaching parents to celebrate their child’s hair, Tamekia is giving them a cultural experience they may not receive at home.
Besides teaching and parents and children how to properly care for their hair, Tamekia and her team also go to group homes, youth detention centers, and hospitals to help “build self-esteem and bring hope” to underprivileged kids.
To some, hair may not seem like a big deal, but in the Black community, hair is incredibly important, both aesthetically and culturally.
In Africa, elaborate hairstyles were used to let others know what tribe/nation you were from or your class status. Slave traders knew the significance of hair in African culture. So, when the slave trade started, hair was shaved to prevent people from communicating with each other. Slaves then passed down hair care techniques (that are still used today) to keep their hair healthy and safe in their environment.
Unfortunately, thanks to improper education, racism, and European beauty standards, Black hair has been seen as dirty, unkempt, and difficult to work with. Although Black hair continues to get politicized, it looks like we may be moving in the right direction with more people educating themselves on Afro-textured hair, instead of straightening or relaxing it to make it “easier” to deal with.
If you’re going through the same ordeal, you don’t have to be in Chicago to learn from Tamekia. There are countless how-to videos on Youtube that can help you on your journey. But, if hands-on work is more your style, there’s no shame in asking for help from friends or in going to a local Black salon.
Tamekia’s organization wants to help more families throughout the United States. If you would like to make a donation, please click here.
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Alysia Stevenson is a twenty-seven New York City transplant currently living in Florida with her boyfriend and three furbabies. When she’s not writing, you can find her watching beauty tutorials on Youtube or Parks and Rec for the millionth time.