If your curls and kinks could talk, what would they say?

Bun

In the creative writing workshops that I conduct, I like to engage the participants in exercises that helps them relax and challenge their imagination.

The one that really gets them excited is when I ask them to give voice to a body part. My favorite is the one where I ask them to let their hair talk.

“If your hair could talk, what would it say?”

Once they stop looking at me like I’m crazy, they let the role play begin.

I posed the question during a workshop sessions with women who belonged to a support group for former prostitutes. One woman’s hair “talked” about being pulled and dragged around by abusive men. Another participant’s hair shared its frustration over being subjected to so many chemical relaxers.

“I’m tired of being set on fire,” the perm-challenged hair proclaimed.

During a workshop I conducted at a senior citizens center, a cancer survivor tearfully allowed her hair to speak about its experience with chemotherapy.

“Bit by bit, pieces of me floated to the ground,” she read. Her hair spoke of being taken to a wig shop and how strange it was to see a store full of "hair with no heads.”

I originally created my Hair Talk exercise to use in the cultural enrichment workshops that I conduct with young African-American girls. I wanted to get an idea of how they perceived themselves without asking them directly.

“I am happy because my owner takes good care of me,” wrote Ke’Asha, a sixth grader.When I posed the question to a group of middle and high school age girls at a community center in South Dallas, the responses were as varied as their personalities. They were candid, humorous, poignant and proud.

“She perms me, shampoos me and even greases me! I love how I feel and look.

Surayyah’s hair pleaded with her owner to give her better care.

“Please comb me. I am all over the place,” wrote the fourth-grader. “Please grease me because I am starting to feel a little dry. Make sure to condition me or I will fall out.”

Madison’s hair was angry.

“I’m sick of being in braids,” wrote the fifth grader in her complaint to her owner. “I don’t like to get wet. I don’t like it when you sweat.”

Dante’s hair issued a desperate warning to her owner who was obsessed with keeping it straight. “Touch me with that hot comb one more time and I will run away!”

Zakia, a sixth grader, had hair that expressed pride and a positive self-perception.

“If my hair could talk it would say how pretty it looked today. That’s what it would say in a great, black and beautiful way.”

Final thoughts

Hair talk. Never know what you might get when you let your tresses be expressive.


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