Even though black people have been in the West for decades and are probably spend the largest amounts on hair products, history has shown that you could only purchase these products in “urban” areas. Back in the day that was Hackney, Dalston, Tottenham, Stratford, Camberwell, Peckham and Brixton but to name a few. Then it stretched out to Barking, Dagenham and Romford as we started moving further out. Today in 2015, there is at least one store in every area where you can buy black hair products.
I love to look good, but I really haven’t got time for fussing around with relaxers and spending time coming, brushing and making sure that the nappy bits look half decent. Additionally, on the day I arrived in this cold country, my hair started breaking so for this reason I weave it, braid it or simply throw on a wig. It saves time, I still feel good and it keeps my head warm.
A couple of weeks ago, I braided my hair and this is where my story starts. Firstly, my work colleagues think that I am too quiet. I don’t talk a lot firstly because I don’t feel like telling total strangers my life story, secondly, we have nothing in common, thirdly, I have trust issues and go buy the rule of trust no one until they prove they can be trusted. Lastly, I reiterate the second point.
The whole we have nothing in common was substantiated when I came in with my new hairdo. Now I am not saying that these ladies do not interact with black people, but I am guessing they don’t have any black friends. I must have spent the equivalent of a day explaining how my hair was done. The conversation went a little something like this.
Them: “oh, your hair is nice, did you do it yourself?”
Me: “thanks, no I went to a hair salon”.
Them: “so how is it done, is it your own hair?”
Me: “no, they are extensions it is braided with my own hair” (like seriously???)
Them: “so did it take long to do?”
Me: “a couple of hours”.
Them: “oh, wow, it’s lovely though, suits you”
Now the last time I had this type of conversation, I think I was in secondary school, and that’s understandable, as a school kid of a different culture, you are still learning, but 2015, like for real??? I have seen black people in this area but as I said, I think I am the only one that they have really interacted with, because they are forced to, because I work with them.
I wonder what they would do if I brought some Kenkey and shitto to work, it would blow their minds, and if I ate with my hands to boot (the only way really to eat Kenkey in my opinion), like I would be the topic of conversation for years to come.
In the meantime, I keep quiet and let them think what they want and answer their questions when they ask, you are never too old to learn something new I guess.