I carry history in my hair.
Generations of thick tangled tresses
colored with shame at the roots.
Stripped, dyed, burned, fried
trying unsuccessfully to alter its DNA.
Since birth, my hair has danced violently
to a beat of its own.
Tautly twined coils
stretched like the goatskin
that cover djembe drums
each lock relentlessly rebelling.
Defiant like sugar cane
trying to make its way through concrete.
Often curled in bouncing question marks
unsure of its own beauty.
For generations these strands
have carried inherited misconceptions
that I will pass down to my daughter
as they were passed down to me.
Recycling inferiority complexes
neatly packaged on assembly lines
and carefully placed on the top shelves
of our pharmacies and for $7.99 you too
can have soft, beautiful, manageable hair.
© Nancy Arroyo Ruffin. Published by permission in Centro Voices on 24 April 2015