Read time: 2 mins

Hair/Her Emancipation

by Nadine Tomlinson
27 June 2022

Listen.

Become as quiet as the space between your ribs, so you can learn why trees wear their hair underground. All the mothers in you know this secret. That’s why you innerstand how to braid a path to freedom on your daughter’s head, so she will never be ashamed of crowning it with an Afro or Bantu knots or canerows or dreadlocks.  

When she sits in front of a principal and later an HR manager who says that her hairstyle is inappropriate, she will look out the window and see a tree, watching, listening. She will stand tall where she sits. She will remember that your fingers in her hair taught her that roots became routes to mental emancipation. 

So when Babylon, like a raging bulldozer, tramples over your daughter’s rights to wear her hair as she pleases, when it wields shears like a weapon and turns her scalp into a scarred hill, woman, don’t let the oppressors see you cry. Remember. 

Axe swings at a tree. 

You see the fall. Forests know 

the roots are standing.

About the Author

Nadine Tomlinson

Nadine Tomlinson is a Jamaican writer and speculative storyteller. Her short stories and poems feature elements of African lore in Caribbean culture.  

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