DraMOMic, Part 2 – The Afro Threat

Last week it was postulated that I may or may not have been raised by a bunch of racists.  Am I reaching here?  Proximity to the situation could make me kind of biased (ha ha), but consider the possibilities when a reformed Jewish family joins in marriage with a tribe of Puerto Rican Catholics.  No way they ever got together to devise “fusion” kosher/comida criolla.  Trust me, gefilte fish empanadas (no, just NO!) and bialys with queso blanco & lox (please kill me) would SUCK on ANY planet…

Anyway, was mom’s family actually a bunch of Archie Bunker-watching bigots? For me, the clues added up…

“I’m gonna take you for an AFRO!!” 

You’re thinking Mom could have meant this as a show of cultural support or perhaps a fun mother-daughter day at the salon.  After all, it WAS the 70’s.  Rest assured that despite my collection of bell-bottoms, saddle shoes & velour this supposed offer contained nary an implication of “You’d look SO ADORABLE in…” or “*inhale* Ooh! What if we did your hair pretty like Chaka Khan! *exhale*”

No, NO, NOO!  – Not in my house.

Kids are very intuitive.  Little kids can tell if something is wrong especially if you speak crossly to them. My mother was always cross with me.  I suspected at a very young age that she might not even like me.  Like I said – kids know.

Mom even showed off to my dad how she could easily make me cry by saying this.  He wasn’t happy with her ant-under-a-magnifying-glass jollies.  Gee, I wonder why…

I didn’t have an intrinsic aversion to any Afro-haired people; it was all about the way mom would say it.  “I’m gonna take you for an Afro-perm!” by itself could’ve meant fun with tiny rollers and a cozy, warm, noise-blocking hood-dryer.  Try squawking it up like Mommy Dearest and pretty much any statement can be scary to a little kid.

What Mom & her family most feared - the "Evil 'Fro"

What Mom & her family most feared – “Brown and the Evil ‘Fro”

As a teen I flipped that threat right back at her.  Even though she often threatened to take me for one, trust me – she NEVER NEVER would have done it.  So, telling my mom that I’m getting an Afro-perm from beauty-school classmates while my tan was still fresh – awesome!  – Seeing the look on her face if I had actually done it, PRICELESS!

It’s sort of sad that mom enjoyed using this positive symbol of cultural identity and beauty as a weapon. I never really understood why until way later on.

Does threatening to take your kid for an Afro constitute racial insensitivity? Were mom’s actions and attitudes giving me a clue that she was raised a Jewish supremacist?

Next up: How telling a kid what they are can be the same as insisting what they’re not & why this isn’t necessarily a positive thing.


About LVital7019

Just your normal, everyday 9-5er. An uninspiring position in an inspirational non-profit moves me to constant goof-offery; aimless, on-the-job procrastination; a crankiness that borders on psychosis; and attempting to craft something meaningful with words. Just another so-called-job inspiring someone to feats of insanity with a hint of creativity... (Insert demonic laugh HERE.) View all posts by LVital7019

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Tony Single

artist. wastrel. a quantum of potential.

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