These women teach adoptive parents of different races how to do black hair

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Black hair is more than just hair.

“We express ourselves through our hair,” says stylist Tamika Swint. TODAY.com. “It is deeply embedded in our culture and our history. It connects us to each other. “Our hair is a big part of our identity.”

For some adoptive parents of different races, black hair can be a source of anxiety.

That’s why Swint was founded in 2011 Patterns 4 Kidsa non-profit salon in Illinois that focuses on teaching textured hair Transracial adoptive parents And their children. Swint offers a range of services including curls, braids and twists, as well as one-to-one training sessions and online courses and workshops.

Women who teach white adoptive parents of black children how to do hair (Courtesy of Roxanne Engstrom of Hawa Images, Hawa LLC)

Women who teach white adoptive parents of black children how to do hair (Courtesy of Roxanne Engstrom of Hawa Images, Hawa LLC)

Swint found her calling thanks to a chance acquaintance with a woman named Mary.

“A black mother at my local church knew I loved doing hair, and she was like, ‘My friend Mary needs your help,’” Swint recalls.

When Swint first met Mary, a white mother of two adopted black daughters, she said she nearly “burst in tears” over the condition of the girls’ hair, which was dry and badly tangled.

“I didn’t want to cry because I didn’t want Mary to feel bad, but it was terrible,” Swint says. “At that point, I had no idea that this was a national problem.”

Mary and her daughters became Swint’s first clients.

“You should have seen their faces when they looked in the mirror after I was done. It completely changed not only their look, but how they felt about themselves,” Swint says. “And that’s how Styles 4 Kidz started. “I realized this was a much bigger problem.”

Many parents come here during the adoption process, Swint says.

“By the time their child is born, they know all about the products and how to use them. They go into the situation fully prepared,” Swint explains. “What we do is prevent experiences like the ones Mary and her daughters had.”

Rosalinda Christmon and her daughter Mia, now 18, are former Styles 4 Kids clients.

“My husband saw a Caucasian woman at our local pool. He came home and said, ‘She had African-American daughters and their hair was braided so beautifully,'” Christmon tells TODAY.com. “And then he goes, ‘I need to know who she’s using.’ .

The woman at the pool was Mary. Mary happily linked Christmas to Swint – and in the nick of time.

“Mia was 6 or 7 years old, and I was struggling with her hair a lot,” Christmon says. “She would cry when we tried to comb her.”

Christmo notes that she is “forever grateful” for the education she received at Souint Salon. She believes that hair training should be mandatory for adoptive parents.

“It’s just as important as finding the right pediatrician,” Christmon says.

Women who teach white adoptive parents of black children how to do hair. (Courtesy Tamiah Bridgett-Alexander)

Women who teach white adoptive parents of black children how to do hair. (Courtesy Tamiah Bridgett-Alexander)

Tamia Bridget AlexanderI couldn’t agree more. Bridget Alexander, a natural hair specialist, hosts Black hair classes for parents and foster families in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. One of the organizations she works with is Promote the love project.

“I caution all parents, especially adoptive parents of different races, against putting extensions in too early. It’s the same with straightening, because it teaches the child that their natural texture is inherently unacceptable,” Bridget Alexander tells TODAY.com. “White hair has been the standard of beauty.” For a long time.”

Using positive language is just as important as choosing the right products, according to Bridget Alexander.

“Black hair can be viewed as a burden. You should avoid sighing and saying things like, ‘This is going to take hours,'” she explains. “You want these kids to have a good experience when they get their hair done. Make it a bonding time. Let’s disrupt the generational trauma of our hair being a burden.”

Transracial adoptee Angela Tucker He said previously today She believes all foster parents should outsource when they can.

“Understand that there are some things as a white person that you cannot teach your Black child,” Tucker said. “Think of it like piano lessons. If your mom doesn’t play the piano, she’ll find you a piano teacher. There’s no shame in that.”

This article was originally published on TODAY.com

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