Loop21 talked to Rory Hadley about her blog, Chocolate Hair, Vanilla Care. Its advice and musings on hair care are inspired by her experience as the white mom of an adopted black daughter.
She’s far from the first one to address this issue, but she has some insights into priorities, societal values and self-esteem that go much deeper than “remember to moisturize.” It’s no surprise that while the site is geared toward adoptive and foster parents who are a different ethnicity than their African-American children, black women make up the majority of her online community.
Read a few excerpts from the interview here:
On the inspiration for the blog: As she got older, and her hair longer, I would find myself frequently approached by other adoptive families while out shopping. They would ask me so many questions that I could scarcely answer them all in a mere 15-minute public interaction. With encouragement from friends and family I finally decided to separate the hair-related items out of my personal blog and launch a public forum — that way I had an easy place to point people who asked me questions.
On her biggest challenges: Now that the routine is established, my biggest challenge — outside of keeping it healthy — has been instilling that sense of pride in her natural hair. In a society that values long, straight hair it will be something that we will be working on for years to come. Right now, however, she seems to have a really strong sense of self and great deal of love and pride for her natural hair. I can only pray that starting early will allow that to become deeply rooted in her identity such that it will counter the trials she will face in years to come.
On responses from the public: The response of other Black women has been really supportive. What I think many Caucasian parents forget is that caring for Black hair is not something that is biologically determined. People aren’t born knowing how to cornrow. Everyone has to be a beginner at some point. And very often, a lot of new Black moms have just as little experience caring for their first-born daughter’s natural hair as foster and adoptive parents — especially if they’ve had perms most of their lives on their own hair. Being a “beginner” is what many of my readers have in common. Whether it is a beginner caring for their child’s hair or for their own — and that transcends race. Hope that makes sense.
In other news: Army Names First Black Female 2-Star General.