No Holiday Break From Race

I was in the salon this past Saturday and it would have been like any other day had it not been for a new customer. She was sitting under the dryer, reading a magazine when I arrived. Or, perhaps it was reading her. Her eyes were closed for much of the fifteen minutes that she sat under the dryer. I joined her in an early morning nap while my hair was being shampooed and conditioned.

When I awoke, she was in the chair and the beautician was effortlessly cutting her hair. She had been given a couple of new magazines to review for a potential hairstyle. I joked that I’d been coming to this salon for months and hadn’t been given as much as a library card to check out magazines, that the stylist did what she wanted with my hair. They all laughed and I continued to watch as her hair took shape. In a matter of minutes, the young lady’s hair had gone from sleepy to sleek. She was ready for business and I couldn’t wait until it was my turn. I am always amazed by the process of transformation whether it be in the preparation of a meal, filling a blank canvas or styling hair. I love to see change… positive, constructive change.

After tousling the hair a bit and applying a protective coating of hair spray, the style is complete. The stylist hands her the mirror to get a better look at hair her. She stands up and that changes everything. She’s no longer holding the magazines and I can see what she is wearing, a t-shirt that reads “Kiss Me I’m Brownish.” I ask her wear she purchased the shirt and shared with her the focus on my blog. The salon is supposed to be my place of respite but now, I am yet again having to ask questions as to the meaning of race for our lives: What is the impact of wearing race/racialized statements? What of our self- expression are we relinguishing in aiding and abetting the message of race through a fashion statement? Ah, there seems to be no holiday break from race.

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