too much too young

July 24, 2010

My first memories of being aware of my colour were in the bath. i was attempting to scrub myself ‘clean’, or rather, white. I couldn’t understand why i couldn’t have the same hue as my mum – lily white as she described. I asked questions whilst being tucked up in bed with Simone, my giant doll (also white). ‘Darling, daddy is brown, mummy is white and that makes you coffee coloured’. Simple and to the point. However this never seemed to satisfy school peers.
During drama, obligatory family improvisation when a jostling nine year old milky bar kid lookalike (Micheal if i recall…) shouts out during my monologue, ‘how can her mum be white and she’s coloured?’

An awkward silence ensued and i was stumped. I ran the question through in my mind, unable to respond or give an adequate answer. Until the teacher stepped in;

‘Dionne is half caste. Her mummy IS white’.

‘Oh yeah‘ i thought to myself. I was the only person who hadn’t been aware. Because it didn’t matter. It shouldn’t have happened.

The hair complexities however were embedded in my experience from the start. The pain of getting cainrows was so embedded i couldn’t pinpoint a time without them. Born with a mop it was unfortunately the first thing people saw with people exclaiming as i ’emerged’, ‘the hair! the hair!’.
Behold, a full head of fine, straight (?!) black hair. apparently against my white skin i looked Japanese.
Until i had cradlecap. yep, the silky smooth fine and managable ‘good hair’ was gone, instead it grew back in various textures in different parts of my head. tough and dense at the crown, looser around the front and sides.

I spent too many years wishing i’d slept sitting up so i wouldn’t have lost the hair. If only. then i’d not have spent so many years searching the globe for products to tame. But then i wouldn’t have embarked on this journey- to meet so many others who had similar experiences.