Wednesday Wisdom- What Really Matters

This young poet’s work was introduced to me years ago, by a friend. From the first time I read “The Hair Thang,” it spoke to me on many levels and I have often shared it with audiences. Rabia has since passed, yet her voice is as clear and relevant today as it was in 1990.

The Hair Thang

                         By Rabia Rayford


This hair thang is a problem for us

I wear it covered, you wear it out

I wear it natural, you wear it straight

I wear it straight, you wear it dread

Is that any reason to talk ‘bout my head?


I wear extensions, you cut it off

I get a perm, you plait it up

I change it and dye it

You clip it and fry it

Is that any reason to signify it?


If mine ain’t like yours, I don’t love my hair

If I don’t love my hair, I’m unaware

If I’m unaware, I can’t give or think

All this is based on naps and kinks?


If I style it short, I don’t love my hair

If I wear extensions, I don’t love my hair

If I get a perm, I don’t love my hair

If I change the color, I don’t love my hair

If I wear it natural, I don’t love my hair.


I don’t love my hair

I don’t love myself.


This hair thang is a problem.


If I dread and you perm- That’s a problem,

If I perm and you nap- That’s a problem

If I nap and you kink- That’s a problem

If I kink and you curl- That’s a problem

If I curl and you braid- That’s a problem

If I braid and you twist- That’s a problem

If you add and she cut-That’s a problem

If she cut and you wave-That’s a problem

If she wave and you kink-That’s a problem

If you kink and she conk-That’s a problem


Sisters! Sisters! Sisters!

Let’s think about this a minute

All this talking, all this fuss

About hair and styles- is that really us?


If we Black

If we Brown

Does it matter?


If we Brown

If we Tan

Does it matter?


If we Yellow

If we Beige

Does it matter?


If we dark

If we light

Does it matter?


If we long

If we short

Does it matter?


If we color

If we hair

Does it matter?


Does it…Does it matter?


If this hair thang is a problem for us

How can we come together and trust?

How can we grow and laugh and hug

Form sisterhoods and bonds of love?


Will it make a difference

When the stuff comes down

Whether your hair is black or brown?

Whether it’s long or short or crimped

Or dreaded out or curled in?


We must begin to look and see

Our basic similarities

Look at our history, ancestral ties

See how our futures are so intertwined.


If we come together and take back our power

Does it matter what happens

When we get in the shower?

If our hair kinks up or drips out grease

If it’s wild or woolly or tamed and neat


If it’s washed and worn or dyed and fried

If it’s braided up and then blow dried

If it’s chemically altered or naturally curled



So the next time a sister approaches you

Who ain’t go huh hair done the way you do

Look at her face, look at her smile

Notice the sameness of movement and style


Think of the problems we all have to face

The people who look at you both and feel hate

The system that destroys us whenever it can

The good we can do when together we stand


So let’s curl it and shave it and dread or whatever

As long as we know in our hearts we’re together

We have enough problems to drain and divide us

Child, it ain’t the hair- what’s important’s inside us!


Source: Rayford, Rabia. Yes! We’re Colorfull!!- A Celebration. Dancing Lion Press, 1990.


I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject?  What really matters?


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