I wanted to start with a little back story here: Growing up I didn’t really know that I was black (I literally had asked my mom one time in 5th grade why someone asked what color my parents were.) I didn’t really understand because having two white parents (my mom + my step-dad) who were raising me, never looked different to me. I remember learning in school during black history month about different cultures, about African-American history but not in major detail. I felt like they only touched the surface of slavery, poverty, segregation.. etc.
My biological Dad left when I was just 2 years old, and was in and out of my life ever since, so I missed out on learning about his family, and his background, and where he grew up and just so much about our (me +my brother) African American culture.
It really wasn’t until I started dating Shane (and immersed myself in his life, his family, and his friends) that I really started to get that yes we are different, that our families have a story that needs to be shared with throughout many generations, and that it’s so important to fully embrace our backgrounds and where came.
Each year as our kids get older, I feel like the conversations get deeper, and there desire to know more about where we came from and our family history, gets stronger. So we share, and the information that we may not know, we ask and we learn from our elders.
So fast forward many years into our relationship (Shane and I) and our marriage, and our desire to want to love on other kids that could go back to their families potentially was strong. We knew we wanted to share our love, and felt like God was directly putting us in the path to fostercare. When we were opening our house up for placement, you are allowed to put on your information on which race/ethnicity you preferred, and which age bracket you wanted to stay in. Our family was open to all race/ethnicity/background, etc, and we actually ended up adopting 3 (out of the 8 we fostered) and they were all African American.
African-American history goes way back and they all have unique textures of hair, differences in skin color, and different body shapes and I wanted to make sure we are embracing all of that in our family.
With our 2 1/2 year Gracelynn I knew I needed help with how to properly do her pretty, textured hair. Shane and I never (or Brielle/Malachi) have had to really worry about how to do our hair, or how many times to wash it, or really anything.. we wash, mousse/gel, hairspray and call it a day. Well, for Gracelynn we are having to do something completely different because we saw how dry her hair was getting with the method we were used to doing for each other. A couple of people have mentioned to me on what I should be doing to get the best results and I knew in order to fully understand her background and her culture, I needed to be able to do her hair correctly.
“The expression of beauty through hairstyles has been a long-standing signature of Black culture,” and I wanted to make sure our girls are fully able to do just that.
So I called in reinforcements (a.k.a my friend Caitlin) to show me how to properly style Gracelynn’s hair (and all my other kids as well), how to keep it from getting it dry, how many times I should be washing it per week, and how to keep from breaking her hair when taking down hairstyles, which brushes/combs I should be using and much more. She showed me hands on (which is my preferred way of learning) and it has helped Shane and I both understand her more, and understand the importance of proper hair care.
While doing her hair, the hashtag #blackgirlmagic came to my mind to remind myself of our culture and our background and how embracing God’s gift of beauty that can be expressed in my different ways, even our hair.
Now here is our precious girl proudly rockin’ her latest hairstyle!
©2018 Sheridan Johnson @Journey with the Johnsons. All Rights Reserved.