Hair is relaxed. It is now relaxed hair by a relaxer because Black hair is the opposite of relaxed hair because it is something wild, something to be tamed–to be relaxed. Relaxed hair needs attention; relaxed hair screams “Pick me!” from the root and hangs down like ropes worn out from the struggle of a body desperate for breath. Relaxed hair gets cut because relaxed hair is needy and will call the police if relaxed hair is threatened by Black hair the wild hair the needs to be tamed hair. Relaxed hair falls to kitchen floor silent and Black hair the wild hair is just Black hair without the shackles. It is small and weak. It is shy. It is hard to speak its language but it is patient, it is kind, and Black hair knows that learning takes time and so it gives as much time as it can but Black hair can be slow. Black hair does yoga and twists and bends in angles that stretch from the root and into mountain pose. Black hair grows tall and is fattened with creams and love. Black hair is greedy. Black hair smells like tree nuts and heat. Black hair is natural hair; natural hair is a loaded term. People with non-Black hair will daydream of caressing Black hair, their long lost lover. Black hair is wanted hair when Black hair is not Black but white hair that white girls say is Black hair. Black hair is the hair of the wife and mother and daughter and son. Black hair is the hair of rejection don’t you bring no nappy-headed bitch in here. You only fuck Black hair; you marry non-Black hair. Black hair is tucked away for the board meeting because Black hair is still wild hair so it must be presentable hair but presentable hair is Katherine’s hair and Black hair knows it. Black hair will hate itself. Black hair will relearn and relove itself. Black hair is cyclical like seasons. Black hair is misunderstood; Black hair is cherished. Black hair is short today, long tomorrow. Black hair is waking up in the morning and saying the words Black hair and meaning it, meaning it.
Myliyah Hanna is an upcoming essayist and graduate of the University of Virginia. Myliyah grew up in the Bronx and returned to the city post-graduation. She maintains Let’s Be Real, a blog hosting her sociopolitical think pieces and smaller creative projects.