Childrearing

If You Don’t Like The Way I Do My Mixed Race Baby’s Hair, Keep It To Yourself

By  | 

I’m Greek and Italian. I have two kids with someone who is African American and Laotian. One of the first things I noticed about raising a child who is part black, is that according to many black women, I would never get his hair “right.” I’ve been the recipient of unsolicited tips since my babies were born. To those of you who seem to think I want endless advice on how to care for my child’s locks – I don’t.

People can’t usually put their finger on “what I am,” but since my name is Maria and I have dark skin they usually guess Spanish, Mexican or Italian. My husband has very dark skin and slightly slanted eyes. People don’t generally try to guess what he is – he’s just “black.” For all intents and purposes, I guess I’m just “white,” especially when some people are addressing the union between my man and I. My husband is black, and I am the white girl who clearly has no idea how to do her own child’s hair.

IMG_3255__1390942728_142.196.156.251

Maria Guido

My older child has very curly, long hair. He’s got beautiful, tight curls that I’ve always received endless compliments on. Everyone seems to universally agree that the kid is gorgeous and that his hair is absolutely beautiful. Everyone except several women who have given me tips that I never asked for about how to care for his hair.

So-and-so says you should use BB on that.

I’m going to snatch him up and braid his hair!

Oh, god – white women are always running around with mixed babies with frizzy hair. 

These are all things that have been said to me – and I generally brush them off. On the scale of uncomfortable things we have to deal with as a mixed-race couple, this registers pretty low. I never had a hard time brushing off the “white woman” whispers around some of his old friends in Brooklyn – I’m certainly not going to stop loving someone because some people in the world still have a problem with black men and white women being together. The people I am referring to in this case are a hell of a lot of black women. And I’m not speaking to whether or not women have the right to mutter about a black man being with a white woman when they see me. Surely they do – as everyone is entitled to have their shit. But when it becomes about my children, and not me – it crosses a line.

Maybe you’re thinking, What’s the big deal? Someone’s just giving you hair tips. So just think for a moment of the last time you gave a mother unsolicited tips on her child’s appearance – implying something needs to be “fixed” or shaking your head and chuckling in the direction of her toddler. I imagine you haven’t. Because it’s ridiculous. There is a subtext there, and those comments aren’t made in love.

I gave birth to these beautiful children and care for them every day. For someone to imply that they have a “better” way simply because a piece of their race is in my child is dismissive of my role as a mother. Guess what? A piece of my race is in him, too. When it comes to mixed-race children, there is something that people don’t seem to understand; they are their own people and they will define themselves however they see fit when they are old enough to do so. My child isn’t “me” and he sure as hell isn’t “you.” My kids are African American, Laotian, Greek and Italian. We expose them to all of their backgrounds because we are proud of every, single one. They are their own people, and no one cares for them better than I do.

I’m their mother.

Making comments about a child’s hair, implying that it needs to be different is just odd. I don’t care if you have a problem with the fact that my kids are black. Stop passive-aggressively putting your shit on me by recommending hair products. I love their natural hair and I have no intention of teaching them not to. I have eyes – I think my children’s hair looks amazing.

(photo: NEGOVURA/ Shutterstock)