This special blog post is dedicated to all of the Black Girls out there who have considered joining the Peace Corps, but thought to themselves, "What am I going to do with my hair in the middle of nowhere?" For all of you non-Black Girls, don't worry, we all have something to learn in this post!
If you are a Black Girl or happen to know a Black Girl, you will know that hair is, shall I say, a 'sensitive' issue. Let's be honest- for many of us, our hair plays a major role in how we feel about ourselves.
A Black Girl's Hair:
- Determines if we're going to get in the pool on a hot.as.hell.day, or not.
- Determines if we're going to get our exercise on, in fear that our hair-do will not last until our next salon appointment.
- Determines who and how we let someone touch us in fear that our hair might 'get messed up'.
- Determines our Friday and Saturday schedule. I mean we need to make our regularly scheduled, hours long salon appointments.
- Determines where we live. A good hair stylist is hard to find. Will you trust a stylist in D.C. the same way you trust your 13-year long relationship with your current stylist?
- Determines our nightly bedtime routine. Moisturize, comb, wrap, scarf, satin pillow...
- Determines how we feel about ourselves. Is it long enough? Straight enough? Styled just right? Is it the right texture? Will it behave today? I hope it doesn't rain, otherwise I'm in for a bad day. I hope it's not too hot, because I don't want to sweat out my style.
I bet that if you're considering joining the Peace Corps (or living abroad), you've given pause to what you'll do with your hair. I'm sure that there are plenty of other Black Girls who wouldn't even consider joining or considered PC, but the well-being (etc) of their hair was was found to be too great of a barrier.
Don't worry, I too had this internal discussion! I knew that, first thing out of college, come hell or high water, I was going to join the Peace Corps...so I needed to make a plan for the queen's crown! My vision of my PC experience was to be in the middle of the bush somewhere and figured that I'd look pretty crazy searching high and low for a box of PCJ (little did I know that, even in that 'bush' experience I'd been dreaming of, a home perm kit or salon is never out of reach). Mind you, I was also a budding womanist and figured that I needed to get in touch with my ruuts (roots)! When I finally came to a conclusion, I was in Cape Town, South Africa attending a summer-long human rights program and in serious need of a touch-up. It was going to be now or never...so I did the best I could and threw a French braid at my mane. That summer, my new friends grew to hate the French braid. So did I. It wasn't until just after my Senior pictures that I cut the permed ends off of my hair and became fully "natural". Oh My! And the funny thing is that I didn't end up joining PC until three years later!
Black Girls...I should have probably prefaced my story by saying that this was my journey, and mine alone. Doing the 'natural' thing has served me well...10 years strong. But Black Girl, don't despair if you can't imagine giving up your luscious locs. During my time in PC, I served with Black ladies who had locs, perms, presses, home cuts (me), beauty shop do's, shaved heads, braids, twist outs, and everything in between. So fret none (yes, very country, I know!). Your hair does not have to stand in your way from you too living your Peace Corps dreams!
That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!
From one Black Queen to another...