It’s a protein filament that grows from our follicles. It’s a defining characteristic of mammals. The part you see is considered to be, well, dead. Even so, whether you cover it or not, cut it or not, braid it or not–pick a spot in the world and hair (especially girls’ and women’s hair) has always been a matter of public opinion and social control. In my day it defined traditional and orderly versus contemporary and uncontrolled. And girls weren’t ever supposed to be uncontrolled, were they?
Now, it seems, American school administrators in Malden, Massachusetts, apparently newly inclined to worry about anything other than the Education Secretary, are weighing in once more. Maybe I’ll just go reread Catching the Wild Waiyuuzee by the wonderful Rita Williams-Garcia–and have a good cry. It used to be a charming childhood romp celebrating an African American girl’s hair. Now it seems to carry other, darker tones.