My First Time Getting Braids

The year was 1985. I was 4 going on 5 and my hair was finally at a length that could be braided decently. I was born with hardly any hair and it took a while for it to grow in. It was just me and my mom in a little house on Florida Ave. in South Richmond, CA. My auntie and cousins lived next door in an apartment that we had once all lived in together.

One Sunday, my big cousin Keysha came from next door to braid my hair for the first time and she hooked me up with some beads. I was sooooooo excited! There were little pieces of foil at the end of each braid to keep the beads up. I remember it taking a while to get done and my head hurting a little bit because I was tender-headed but they came out beautiful. I loved it! In that moment, I was so happy and excited to have such marvelous things attached to my head.

I arrived at Odyssey pre-school in Richmond, CA and on Monday morning with my braids poppin and had the time of my life that day! Everyone was complimenting me on my hair and wanting to touch it and all. I was loving it and ate up every bit of the attention.

That Monday evening, my mom picked me up from school and told me in the car that she was going to be taking my braids down when we got home. I was devastated. I wanted nothing more than to keep my braids in and continue to experience how magical they were for days to come. My mother explained that she was taking them down because my teacher complained I was swinging my head around too much and the beads were making noise. Thus, causing a distraction.

I thought how could my teacher and mom betray me like this!? So just as quickly as I got my braids, they were gone. This is one of the first times I ever felt disappointment in my early years. It was such a tease. For just a day I experienced the wonder of braids – how they made me look, how hey made me feel and the confidence they brought. But it was all over. Just like that I was back to wearing my normal two braided ponytails.

My hair voice was silenced and It would be years before I wore braids again. I still haven’t worn beads (maybe I’ll put some in one of these days). It’s 2020, I’m staring at my daughter with beads in her hair and think to myself-her hair may cause attention and distraction but she’s free to make all the noise she wants and so am I.

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