Thursday, December 30, 2010

No More 'fro...

We take all 3 boys to the barber school for a number of reasons: 1.It's $5! 2. There a mostly black men for Etienne and Zeke to hang with 3. It's $5!!!! Last Thursday was no exception. We've been going to the same barber school for over a year now, and they've been so kind and helpful to teach us how to properly (and respectfully) care for the boys' hair. Etienne had an older man, probably in his late 50s, cut his hair this trip. Etienne LOVES any attention to his hair, which is partly the reason for the 'fro, because it's high maintanence. The moment E sat in this man's chair, the criticism started. First it was that we don't cut his hair frequently enough, then that we should just choose a style already, and finally that Etienne wouldn't cry if he wasn't afraid of getting his hair combed. Etienne was crying, sobbing, because the man was pulling roughly and raising his voice at us. The comments started vaguely but worked their way to saying that we don't know how to care for our son and it's my fault he is crying. By this point, I was forehead to forehead with E, covered in hair, praying and singing to him. I mostly tuned the man out, but I could definately feel every eye in the place on me. I left ashamed, angry and in tears. It was clear that this man believed a white woman has no business with a black son. After a good cry, Ryan convinced me that I needed to let his superviser know what happened. We spoke later, and I hadn't a word out before he said "I've seen your HAPPY Son and I was afraid of what I was witnessing today. I so sorry that you felt judged." His apology was genuine and it comforted me. As a friend said later, "God cares even about hair cuts." He used a horribly hateful experience as a bonding moment for Etienne and I as we cried together. He gave me the opportunity to talk to Molly and Blake about it (they saw the whole thing) and we prayed for that man's hurt/hate. So we tried for lemonade. I am wondering how other transracial families deal with this. Do we boycott the place or show up again with forgiveness? Should I have addressed his racism? I hope that with my actions I displayed only love for my son and that that man saw a new perspective in what defines family. (PS, for the record, the teacher said E's hair was the "healthiest in the joint."


  1. I am by no means an expert, but when we were preparing for the arrival of Levi and Judah we took a transracial adoption course and there was one thing that I always keep in mind. They said that parents in situations like these should remember "C.O.P.E." C: consider the target (the child, the family, etc...), O: observe your child, P: protect your child, E: empower your child. In this case, you were a beautiful example of all of the above and I believe that to go back or not will have to be a balance between protecting your kids and empowering them as well...not an easy one. Sending love!!!

  2. Matthew 5: 14-16 seems pertinent. I trust you and Ryan's wisdom on whether to go back or not, but either way, it's a great Gospel opportunity to praise Jesus. We treat Jesus the same way that man treated you and the kids, and he died on the cross for us! Just reading this post helped me to see that and worship Him. God has obviously given you the Holy Spirit because your response was to pray for that man. Good work.

    For what it's worth, I say you keep going back. It's an opportunity to love that man, to teach your kids what it means to love those who hurt you, and it's a living example to everyone that your hope is built on a firmer rock that cannot be shaken.