Friday, February 28, 2014

the white mama at the black salon, #2...

Well, lest I begin to think I know what I'm doing raising a black son, there'll always be one subject that will expose me for the clueless, white mama that I really am...


I'm trying, I really am.

I've read up on it.

I've sought out the advice from my dear black sisters and tried my darndest to do what they say.

At times I'm rather proud of myself on the subject, too... until I take him into the salon for his second haircut.  :)

Thankfully, sweet Andrea (that also cut his hair before) didn't say anything to me directly about the matter.  She didn't have to.  But as I watched the steps she had to take just to PREPARE my kid for a haircut... like picking out all of the tangles from where his hair was knotted up in the back... I quickly realized I'm not doing something right here.

I consider myself a fairly bright person overall.  But black hair is not yet a subject I can say I've tackled.  :)

In hindsight, I wish I would've observed Andrea more closely.  I was mostly trying to soothe the poor little guy pressed up into my shoulder whimpering as Andrea got everything detangled and moisturized.  You better believe all eyes in that salon were on us!

It was sweet and funny and embarrassing all at the same time.  I started to feel the weight of my own shame.  What do you know about black hair, Amy?  What makes you think you can raise a black son if you can't even do his HAIR?!  You guys know I already carry around a sense of my unworthiness when it comes to raising Jameson, but as I sat in the midst of his culture, I was humbled all the more.

I want to be accepted by them... I want to make them proud.  I want them to know I'm not just another white person that overlooks them or devalues them.  I want them to know I'm sitting here unWORTHY of them.  I want to learn from them, and I need them.  

"I am so sorry, you guys," I said, deciding the whole salon (and really, the entire black race) deserved to hear a sincere apology at the lack of awareness and understanding in this white gal, "We're learning."

And almost at once, they answered as one voice together:  "It's alright.  You'll get it, Mama."

I'm not kidding.  Every single one of them said the same thing at that same moment.  Without hesitation.  Their corporate solidarity stood in unanimous agreement:  I'll get it someday.

I began tearing up as I cradled Jameson.  Why would God count ME worthy of this child?  To think that so many would look at Jameson, simply because of his skin color, as less-than, as a less-valued child than one with a light, peachy complexion.  I count myself all the more privileged to be united to this culture that has so, SO much to teach me.

Over dinner, I asked Caroline what she thought of watching Jameson get his hair cut.

"It was great!" she said casually between bites.

"What'd you think of the place where he got it cut?" I asked her.  I was curious to see what she thought of US being the minority for once.

"Mom, were we the only light-skinned people in there?" she asked.

(By the way, if you proudly say your kids don't see color, it's probably because A) they're not around very much of it to begin with, or B) you've subtly taught them to see differences in race as a shameful subject instead of an exciting one that God designed.  So pleeease teach your children to see color and how beautiful God made it to be.  That is the only way we will combat racism in our children rather than promote it.  Love, A Transracial Mom.)

"Yes, we were the only ones," I answered.  "What did you think about that?"

Without skipping a beat, "It was AWESOME!  I LOVED it."

How beautiful is that? I thought, and then she and I talked about how cool it would be to walk into a room of only bald heads.  :)

Oh Jameson, I'm busy trying to teach you the ABC's.

I'm trying to teach you not to play in the toilet,

and to obey when Mommy says "no."

But YOU, sweet Jameson, without speaking a word,

are already teaching me more than you'll ever know.


  1. Jameson, you are sooooo cute! I'm so proud and so blessed to be your white nanny!

  2. Amy, this is so touching. I love your perspective and your sensitivity.