If you haven't read part one, please do so here: Black Culture + Hair Care are Absolutely Necessary.
This is part two to a three part series with Helen. This series is meant for white parents raising black kids. I'm sitting at your feet, Helen.
For adoptive or foster parents, I highly recommend the Facebook group: Not just hair: the intersection of hair/skincare and transracial adoption. There is an immense amount of invaluable information there.
One of my favorite quotes from Helen in part one is this: The way a child’s hair looks is correlated with the overall care that child receives from her mom or parents. A big part of self confidence among our black children comes from their hair. It is therefore important to promote overall health of your black child including the quality of their hair care.
NB: Do you have thoughts or opinions about naming our kids of color?
Helen: Names are a reflection of someone’s heritage.
Some names are distinct to African Americans.
Before we adopted children, we also wanted to make sure we respect the wishes of birth parents in naming our children while also reflecting our African heritage.
We named our first Malika, meaning angel in Swahili (East African widely spoken language). Both our children have a distinct African middle names (Kiprop for our boy and Cherop for our girl). Both means child of rain or blessings.
I also think it is important to consider where your black child will spend most of his/her life. If the child will hardly be around black people, I think naming the child a name unique to black culture may not be suitable. Kids can be cruel and your child may constantly be teased for having a name hardly anyone can correctly pronounce.
However, your child will be more supported if there are other black people around who understands and appreciates the name and what it signifies.
At what age do you recommend boys get their first haircut at the barber?
This depends on how long the baby’s hair is.
I would say a safe bet is to wait until almost 2 years old to cut but if you have a one year old with super thick, long and uneven hair, I would say consider cutting it early.
I am a fan of longer hair for boys but many in the black culture may disagree with that stance. And that’s ok.
I am not sure if I would cut my boy’s hair before he is 3.
I would also stres it is equally important to maintain your boy’s hair making sure he looks neat and presentable regardless of how long his hair is.
Do you have any thoughts about the importance of visiting a black barber?
I think it is very important for your black son to have a black barber especially if the child has white parents. There are several reasons for my recommendations including:
- It is critical for your black son to see someone of his own race giving him this kind of care. Ultimately, the barber will validate how nice and great his hair looks. I think this will mean a lot to the child hearing that from someone who has closer hair texture to him.
- It is important to start introducing your black son to successful black men and what better place to do that than with a black barber at a black barber shop.
- A black barber due to his extensive experience is more apt to notice any scalp issues that may need addressing. This will help you as a parent to intervene early.
- A lot of questions regarding race are conducted in barber shops. It is paramount, especially for black boys, to be a part of these conversations as they grow up into young black men and to later have something to contribute in race related conversations.
- Socialization with other black boys happen here too. I think it is important to encourage these friendships and help your child to build networks with other black children.
This concludes part two of a three part series on the importance of hair + skin care and black culture, when raising kids of color. This series is intended for white parents raising black children.
To us, this is extremely important. Especially for white parents raising kids of color: we don't just adopt children, we adopt their culture, race, and heritage. Let's take care of them for the sake of our children and their identity.
For adoptive or foster parents, I recommend the Facebook group: Not just hair: the intersection of hair/skincare and transracial adoption.