Michele Tapp Roseman is keenly aware of how deeply rooted our feelings about our hair are tangled with our feelings about ourselves. She authored a book called Hairlooms: The Untangled Truth About Loving Your Natural Hair and Beauty and agreed to share an excerpt with the NaturallyCurly community. 

I am an early riser and have a reputation for starting my day when the birds do. Clearly, there is an advantage to getting up before the sun does. I have an opportunity to seize the day and finish projects before most of the world arises. There is one downside; when people know you get up at the crack of dawn, they expect you to start working at daybreak. I have learned that to keep my world from resembling chaos, I have to straighten out my day as my feet touch the bedroom floor. A morning for me is never complete without prayer and Bible reading. I will then take some moments to see “how I’m doing.” I spend time with Kyle, and then I face the outside world. I have to make my personal world a priority before I make my public world a promise. I have to take the time to make my root issues first on my list. I know you’ve got to tweet and meet, but you also have to spend quality time with yourself.

Women need to know that hours with spouses and children are essential, but the only way to straighten the outside is to make time for our own inner work. We can get clear when we take time to unwrap what has been packed in our souls. Roots left unattended will wrap themselves around all sorts of things underground. Some issues that we as Black women face have become intertwined with unrelated issues. This entanglement could have been avoided by being intentional about addressing issues. Remember that our freedom is based on how we treat our root causes. Some of us will take the time to detangle our kinks with a chemical. Others will opt for a gentler solution and tie them down at night. Whatever the preferred method, Black women owe it to ourselves to be free.

Whatever the preferred method, Black women owe it to ourselves to be free.

There are challenges as we move in this direction. It’s not enough for us to just focus on handling root issues. The path we take to our freedom is equally important and will determine how quickly we’ll reach our destination. A literal interpretation of this thought also rings true for me when I think about a particular travel mishap that occurred a few years ago. It is clear that of all the senses I possess, I seem to have been shortchanged when God was handing out the sense of direction. I am woefully inadequate in this area. If I come to a T intersection and have the choice of going one way or the other, I invariably choose the wrong way, much to the amusement of my friends and family. One of my more memorable travel mishaps happened at the most inopportune of times. I was scheduled to attend a meeting in Biloxi, Mississippi. I was an essential team player for this particular project, since I had landed press coverage for an event and was expected to produce a live social media feed. I was prepared to hit the ground running, and anxiously looked around for the ground transportation that I had scheduled once I landed at the airport. Strange, I thought, no one has my name on a sign. Well, maybe the driver is running late. Fifteen minutes went by, and then thirty, with no sign of a car. I sensed that a problem was brewing. Something else was peculiar in that I was the only person waiting to be whisked away to the host site. I knew to expect a crowd of emergency responders who were waiting to hear conference remarks from the US Department of Homeland Security Administrator. However, when I arrived, the airport’s ground transportation area was eerily quiet and empty. With time ticking away, I asked an airport attendant about the cost of a cab ride to the hotel. I figured that I would just pay a few extra bucks and get the show on the road. My jaw dropped when he calmly informed that the cab ride to my final destination would be $300.

Then it hit me; this was not a case of hyperinflation, but the frightening realization that I had booked a flight to the right state but the wrong city. I was in Jackson, not Biloxi—which was 165 miles away. I had been so focused on reaching my final destination that I didn’t pay close enough attention to the particulars of how to get there—like a connecting flight. What transpired in the next moments was nothing short of a whirlwind. I called my husband and told him that I made a “tiny mistake” in my travel calculations, and now I was miles away from the host site. After renting the first available car and negotiating reimbursements with my manager, I sped to a local discount store. Why? All these phone calls had drained my cell phone battery, and now I needed a car charger. As I scurried toward the checkout counter, I asked a store manager about my anticipated drive to Biloxi. “That’s about three hours, ma’am. Just head south as far as you can go,” he said calmly. With the same level of nonchalance and a twinkle in his eye, he cautioned me, “Just don’t drive too far south, or you’ll end up in the Gulf of Mexico.” My geographically challenged mind only heard the words “Mexico” and somehow skipped the water part, as I conjured up images of a Mexican guard issuing me an act of clemency for mistakenly crossing the border. I was prepared to use my best Spanish accent and sob story to stave off any accusations of spying. The sun quickly set as the dark night enveloped my tiny rental car. I prayed, talked to myself to stay awake, and wondered how I could have made such a blunder. Through it all, my little car chugged along without fail. When I finally arrived in Biloxi, I was so grateful that I could have kissed the ground. Who would have known that putting all of my focus on the destination without considering the route would cause me to totally miss the best path?

Who would have known that putting all of my focus on the destination without considering the route would cause me to totally miss the best path?

How we decide to unbraid our tangled hair issues and roots will determine our degree of liberation. The path toward healthy images may be littered with obstacles. As Black women, we may find ourselves paying exorbitant costs with our emotions because we have rushed past root issues. The thought of wearily driving along narrow roads that have been darkened by battered images and harsh words is difficult. Convenience may even call some to pump the brakes on self-discovery. Courage, however, issues a clear call to women who will go along for the ride. This journey may not include reimbursements for expenses incurred. Safe arrival, though, will more than pay for what is lost along the way. Once we honestly deal with the genesis of hair issues, we are prepared to face our fears

You can read the rest of the book, Hairlooms: The Untangled Truth About Loving Your Natural Hair and Beauty, by purchasing it at: