When I was a little girl
Nestled at my tired mama’s feet
As she pulled and tugged at my hair
I’d sit and pray
So God
Would give me straight hair
Kinda like my dolls
And so I’d cry into

Before I could even read
I was taught that
This hair
It was a curse

So I straightened
And burned
And knot
And snagged
So that maybe someone would see Lily
Past this crown of thorns

You see, My hair is an overload
In an already overloaded schedule
It’s a full time job
And my only compensation
Is a broken hairbrush
Grasping the last strands of my dignity

They said Black hair’s not professional
Unless it’s straight
Y’know we still live in a world where
Straight is the only

And the words ring through my ears
every time I walk out the door
“What happened to your hair?”
“That girl is soooo weird”
when they think I’m out of earshot.

“You should straighten your hair!”
Many a “friend” would say
Well, you should straighten your
Monomaniacal beauty standards
I’d reply
If only in my mind.

I’ve been convincing myself
I’m more than just a
Strand of keratin
Flowing from
A head full of dreams
And visions
And memories
Of love
And longing.
I’m above

I’ll show you how
To Defy gravity
Love every twist-out
Weave and
And bantu
Black is

Watch me
While I shake and flip and flaunt my curls
This crown
It was an inheritance
From my ancestors
The queens from Africa
Who cradled all of humanity.

Say what you will
You cannot tame
The Lion’s mane.

By Lily Zerihun

Guest Blogger