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My Hair is a Garden, written and illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera – A lovely book to celebrate beauty in diversity!

My hair is a garden

I discovered this beautifully illustrated book when trying to find a book to help my daughter appreciate her hair.  I’m very intentional about curating my daughters toys and books.  I want her to learn from every experience and I want every experience to give her tools to see herself in the most positive light.  This is most evident in the books that I collect for her.  I often choose books that either expose her to the greater world around her, or books that feature faces of children that look like her.  I want her to always feel represented.

My hair is a garden

My Hair is a Garden was written and illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera about a little girl named Mackenzie, who is taunted by classmates about her hair.  After a tough day of teasing, Mackenzie seeks help from her wise and comforting neighbor, Miss Tillie.  Using the Miss Tillie’s garden as a metaphor, Miss Tillie shows Mackenzie that maintaining healthy hair is a ritual of self-love.  Most importantly, Mackenzie learns that natural black hair is beautiful.

My hair is a garden

The illustrations in this book are breathtaking and the storyline reminds readers young and old, that we are all different, but equally beautiful. This book holds a particularly poignant lesson for black children- that they are beautiful just as they are, regardless of the labels that mainstream society may impose on them.  However, it also holds a lesson for everyone else- it is important to always be kind and consider the effect that your words and actions may have on others.  This book is a valuable teaching tool for all and is a must have for your library.

My hair is a garden My hair is a garden

I know that this post is a book review, but I want to dig a little deeper and explain why books like this are critical and should be enjoyed by everyone.  Growing up I didn’t feel represented, especially when it came to my hair.  I had very long, very thick hair and it had a tendency to fluff and become very large. I can’t tell you the number of times that I was made fun of, things were hidden in my hair by other kids and my hairstyles were talked about. It wasn’t until I was older and began to share my experiences with other women that I began to understand that the issues with my hair were actually a part of a larger societal problem.

My hair is a garden
My hair is a garden

In the United States, there is a mainstream cultural aversion to black hair. Black hairstyles are not widely accepted, and hairstyles historically used by black people to protect their hair are considered by some to be taboo. There is a general notion that black hair should conform to the traditionally accepted ideals of white society and beauty standards. There are numerous incidents where these outdated ideas verge into illegal territory and even result in actions of assault.

  • Andrew Johnson – A high school wrestler in New Jersey was forced to cut his locs or forfeit his wrestling match.
  • Lamya Cammon – She was 7 years old when her teacher cut off one of her braids and threw it in the trash in front of the class.
  • Clinton Stanley Jr. – At 6 years old he was prevented from entering his school on the first day unless he cut his locs, due to a school policy banning his hairstyle.
  • DeAndre Arnold- A high school senior was told he couldn’t walk in his high school graduation ceremony unless he cut his locs and was suspended when he refused to cut his hair to meet the school district’s dress code that had changed 3 months before graduation.

Unfortunately, this is not an exhaustive list of children who have been affected by this issue and doesn’t even begin to address this issue as it affects adults in their employment, education and everyday lives.

My hair is a garden

Thankfully the issue is gaining recognition and several states, including California and New York are passing legislation referred to as The Crown Act, prohibiting discrimination against natural hair and protective styles in schools and workplaces.  The Crown Act has only been passed in 6 states, which means that black women and men remain unprotected against hair discrimination in other states and there is still a long way to go.

If you are interested in finding out more about this issue and resources to educate yourself and others please check out www.thecrownact.com.

For more information about the statistical ramifications of black hair discrimination visit the Dove 2019 Crown Research Study.

For additional children’s books to diversify your home library check out Sydney’s Post about Young, Gifted and Black or Vanessa’s Post about Counting on Katherine.

My hair is a garden

Mari x


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Comments (8)

Kiki in Chicago
August 20, 2020

Thank you, Mari. What a beautiful book and informative post. I’m looking forward to more of your perspectives here. Be well.


Mari in Chicago
August 21, 2020

Hi Kiki! Thank you for your kind words! I am happy to be here and I hope that my presence here will inspire new thoughts and actions. Xx Mari


Eve
August 20, 2020

Beautiful book, thank you for the recommendation. I’ve just started a journey to care for my natural hair (at 40yrs old!!) so that my daughters will grow up appreciating theirs. Representation normalise it and that’s so important.


Mari in Chicago
August 21, 2020

Hello Eve! You are so right! Representation matters and black hair needs to be normalized! I am happy to hear that you have begun to embrace your natural hair. It is a big step at any age! Your daughters are so blessed to have you as a mother!
Xx Mari


Esther in Amsterdam
August 20, 2020

Thank you for the recommendation and information! Such a beautiful book and important topic. xxx


Mari in Chicago
August 21, 2020

Thank you Esther! I hope that many people are able to appreciate this wonderful book!

Xx


Jen from Cape Cod
August 20, 2020

A beautiful and helpful post. Thank you, Mari! xx


Mari in Chicago
August 21, 2020

Thank you so much Jen!!

Xx


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