Pelo Malo/Pelo Magnifico*

Keesha fiddles with the beads in her hair.
This bugs her mom, who carefully combed
and applied conditioner and spent
quite some time braiding her daughter’s do.

“Mommy, why don’t I have hair like yours,
blonde and straight? Why is mine all kinky
and hard to do stuff with, like the beads?
I want hair like yours, why can’t I have it?”

“Keesha, honey, part of being adopted, the
really cool part, is that we don’t have to look alike
to be family. Just like Maya is from Japan and
has coarse, straight black hair and I’m blonde.”

“But MomMaya says her hair is… well, I heard
her say it’s ‘bloody awful’ to take care of, too.
You’re lucky.” Mom wraps her in a tender hug and
says, “I am, but it’s got nothing to do with my hair.”

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For Three Word Wednesday, “Bloody, Kinky, Tender”
*PROCESS NOTES: When I lived in Puerto Rico, stylists referred to African hair as “pelo malo,” literally “bad hair.” I asked them why; they replied it is difficult to work with, especially with extensions. I was embarrassed to consider the notion of “bad hair.” I cannot look at a picture of Angela Davis or Billy Preston, with their tremendous Afros, and see anything but beauty. Beaded, natural, extended, even straightened (hey, it’s all about personal choice)… it’s all “pelo magnifico” to me, because it’s the hair our worldwide population started with, deep in the valleys of the Tigris-Euphrates.