Black Baby Boy Haircut


No, I was not hallucinating at the time God gave me the story. I was a heart-broken mother struggling to teach her children and all children to love themselves and the skin and hair that they are in.

Let me tell you what happened. I had gone with my dad to take my older son Jojo to the barber shop. This was not Jojo’s first hair cut and the others were not great. The past barber insisted that we shave his head near-bald in a caesar because that is the “easiest” hair cut for a toddler. This time, would be different, I thought.

I was with my father. My husband was at home working on our shoe line, I explicitly told the barber that I did not want it bald, just shorter. Then, the barber started shaving it bald from the very middle and front of Jojo’s head. When I complained he responded, “How can I tell you this? You’ve got a real nig*** here. He is a native boy. He is from the tribe. This ain’t pretty hair. This is the best cut for him.” I forced a giggle and then entered a state of paralyzed shock. This Black barber had referred to my son as the n-word. Don’t get me wrong, he did not say it the way a Ku Klux Clansman would say it. It was clear that he would refer to himself and other black men and boys using that same n-word. But should that make a difference? No matter how much certain Black people claim that the n-word has been re-appropriated, the word still has a vicious bite to me.

I was just sick to my stomach as thoughts about how I’m going to shield my son from internalized racism ran through my mind. I could not sleep well. I had read somewhere that all lessons are better conveyed through stories. I wanted to write a story, but I’m not creative, I thought to myself. Then one day, I was watching Super Soul Sunday on OWN and a speaker said that art is no different from prayer. She said that Michelangelo admitted that he did not create David alone, God created David and Michelangelo just removed the excess stone. Those comments liberated me and I started praying to God for a story. God gave me Sunne’s Gift.

Sunne’s Gift is about a magical creature named Sunne. God imbues Sunne with the power to make the sun rise and set. For that reason Sunne’s hair grows out in spirally twists towards the sun. Sunne’s straight-haired siblings, who have magical powers with respect to the soil, water and wind, poke fun of Sunne’s hair. Sunne starts beating the spirals of hair to fit in, but as a result, Sunne loses the power to make the sun rise and set, the sun disappears and… Want more? Download the free pdf of the fable here.

We are all Sunne. God has given all human beings certain beauties and powers and when we try to look like, act like or be like someone who we are not, we cede our power. The light of the world becomes dimmer. Black children, more than ever, need such stories to counteract comments that saving our kinky hair is “nasty” while saving “long, silky stuff” is fine. We need to counteract school boards that tell our children that little girls like Tiana Parker who wear afro puffs and dreadlocks are not allowed. Please help me to spread this message of magical afros, self-love and bullying prevention to every child by donating to my Sunne’s Gift kickstarter campaign to illustrate, animate, print and disseminate this book.

Please go here to donate. Thanks so much! Together, we can create an affirming environment for all children.

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  1. thank you for putting pen to paper (or rather, fingertips to keyboard) and creating this magical literature for our brown babies!

  2. I am sorry for the little Parker girl but rules are rules. If it is stated in the rules that dreadlocks are not allowed but her hair in to braids and send her to school. Why go looking for trouble

    • After examining the video, it would appear at first glance that the administrators made these rules for students of many different ethnicities, but I would like to know why weaves are more acceptable? Her hair was short and placed up on her head in a neat manner, which shouldn’t cause any problems. Other schools allow their students to wear these, and much more “ridiculous”, styles with no consequences. Seeing as many of the administrators of their “Dream School” were black, it seems they’ve taken their backwards thinking to the school’s philosophy. White people, and other races for that matter, seem to PREFER our natural hair in most cases. It appears to be blacks who have some sort of twisted hang-up about it. Though more of us are doing it, we still have a ways to go. If anything, whites tend to make more of a fuss and joke about us wearing weaves. Even though white women also wear weaves and wigs, it is somewhat bizarre that we rely on them almost exclusively and in a noticeably high number as opposed to other races, who are more frequently seen wearing their real hair, unaltered except for maybe color. If making a little girl cry because she interprets her expulsion from your school as you disliking her hair, then I think black children need a better option, and not only that, but it is kind of hard to change dreads beyond just simply cutting them off. I think that would do more damage to her than even this event.

  3. Wow…I can’t get over the fact that a BARBER, a supposed-to-be professional would refer to a CLIENT that way! Much less an innocent child! It really says something about our society these days…while it is true that dreads might be seen as the style of choice for more violent boys who are black and they will inherently have more of a problem in society because of that (or other natural hair styles), the fact of the matter is at this point, he is a baby, later he will chose how he wants to wear his hair, and you as the mother can guide him when that time comes! No one else should make that decision for you!

    It’s just like with my daughter. She is biracial and has wispy but very curly hair. Black women always inquire why I haven’t tried straightening it yet. Well, um…the curls are beautiful for starters, I don’t know why it seems like just because she could have the “convenience” of straight hair that I should just jump to that, just because it might work better for her than say…me. The other reason…she is 2 years old. Okay, admittedly going on 3, but still definitely 2! I didn’t get my hair straightened until I was at least 5! I take offense when people suggest it, as if they’re saying, “Well, she’s pale as the moon already, might as well erase all that ethnicity we hate out of her by straightening her hair!”

    We should embrace our natural textures. The only reason why people are confused by it is because we’ve been hiding it for so long. If we were able to wear it in it’s natural state this entire time, that barber would either be a hair stylist, or be working a different job!

  4. I have had similar experiences with my son while he was attending public school. A white teacher at a predominantly black elementary school, was attempting to undo everything that I put into my son as it relates to his racial identity. Is it just me or does it seem like the more we put into our children, the more opposition comes? Like you, this incident inspired me to author and illustrate a book to raise awareness of and combat an out of control attack on our kids and their identity.

    Thanks Ama, for doing something to balance this problem and not just choosing to ignore and accept this behavior as normal.

  5. My son has a shocking shock of afro and i cant even comb it! What has happened to our society where even children are not free to be children. some adults (case in point) need to grow up and practice some of the tolerance that they are themselves demanding.

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