Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Lessons from an 8 Year Old

The second grade girls in the inner city school I observe in love to touch my hair. They always tell me how pretty they think it is. Today in particular, two girls were feeling my hair and earrings. Now this may seem weird, but it doesn't weird me out at all. One of the girls said to me, "Your hair is so pretty and soft and you're so beautiful". I was touched by her comment and told her thanks and that she is very beautiful as well. Another student commented on how my eyes were green. Then it occured to me 'These girls grow up in a society where soft, silky hair and light colored eyes are the good thing to have; that's what makes you beautiful. And these girls have neither'. Being in an inner city school, 80% of the children attending there are black . They all have dark eyes and hair that is reckless and unmanagable. They see me as beautiful, but I don't think they consider themselves beautiful. Some of you may be thinking that second graders don't think that way, and you may be right. But what about 5th and 6th graders? They do think that way. These girls are constantly told through the media or people they come in contact with everyday that white girls are more beautiful. Their hair is better and their eyes are prettier. As Kerri pointed out to me one day, there are no brown colored contacts sold. And even many black models fix their hair so that it is more like the 'perfect hair', if that even exists. I have heard of black girls going through tremendous hair treatments to get their hair to what society says is pretty. There are several boys in this class who will openly and unabashedly tell the girls that they are ugly. I always wonder why they do this, and I'm sure that it's not just the black boys that say these things. I know white boys who are just as mean. Am I saying that white girls are prettier? NOT AT ALL! These girls are so beautiful with their dark brown eyes and intricate braiding hairstyles. If I wore my hair the way some of the girls do I would look ridiculous, but these girls look beautiful that way. I never really realized the true impact light eyes and the perfect hair had on anyone. I had the knowledge of it, but it didn't really sink in til now.

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