Saturday, June 25, 2011


Did anybody see that little Thursday styles piece in the New York Times about more women of color going au natural and haunting the websites that are helping with au natural hair care? Does anybody hang out at these websites? Are they going to turn into a financial and times savings for women of color or will they still wind up costing the big bucks and taking hours?

I have straight, straight, straight hair that literally can't be curled sans perm, but my daughter has curly, curly, curly hair. (I loved when she was bald as a billiard ball save for this one, long, tiny corkscrew at the back.) I had no clue how to handle her hair, so I sought out older African-American grandmas, who explained about moisterizers and picks and not combing it with a regular comb, etc.

This reminds me: two days ago, at Target, I saw a family all in dreads. These were some serious dreadlocks--though the teenagers'--male and female-- were below their shoulders, the mama-looking one's hair swept her ankles. At my son's school, we have a blonde white teacher with dreads below her bottom, but this woman left Teacher Lynn in the shade.

I commented on how impressive the dreads were--remembering an old New Yorker cartoon where two white guys with little braids at the back (which used to be the height of cool) are comparing the length of the braids, and the one that's down to his knees says, "Well, I've been growing mine since. . ."

And of course, they were Rastafarians. I know so little about Rastafarianism, except it started in Ethiopia and says that Haile Salasi or however you spell his name, is the second coming. She grinned, surprised I knew that one. She said most people think it's from Jamaica, (She was not Jamaican) and that it's all one God, all one Love.

I told her I have often envisioned religion as something we put up between us and the too bright light--like a mask that we poke holes in to let the light through--and then we fight a war over which holes we've poked, and we nodded together.

Then, she told me they were shopping for a Rastafari festival this weekend in Duluth. She said that one of the bands there was the Rasta band to end all Rasta bands--that this would be some seriously wonderful music. We laughed, and I let her get back to shopping, walking away with a huge grin on my face and an appreciation for variety on a lot of fronts--for the endless variety of nature, for the endless inventiveness of humans, for the ways we costume ourselves and what that means, and at the thought of Duluth--Duluth--being rocked by a wild Rastafari festival. I wish we could have gone.

Sara Selznick