I think I’ve had all the kinds of hair a person can have.

Red, brown, blonde, black.

Curly, straight, wavy.

Short, long, bald.

My hair and I have been on a long journey.

Here it is being long and curly.

Here it is being long and curly.

Here we see my hair straining against my graduation cap. It eventually, broke free.

Here we see my hair straining against my graduation cap. It, eventually, broke free.

Once I shaved my head for charity.

Once I shaved my head for charity.


Pixie cut!

This is why I laugh at your "crazy hair" Instagram photos, world.

This is why I laugh at your “crazy hair” Instagram photos, world.

I grew up hating my hair. Then resenting my hair. Then, eventually, loving my hair and resenting people for defining me by it.

I’ve been dreading my hair for almost 4 years; no wax, no products, just a few braids to loc up some stubborn spots. It’s called the “neglect method”. It has left my hair strong and un-smelly. Because I have simply stopped conditioning my hair and combing it, to undo the process I could just condition and gently brush my hair and over the course of a year or so, my dreads would naturally fall out.

People tell you when you start that you’re “going on a journey”. I’ve kept hearing that; that dreadlocks are a journey. I thought it was nonsense. I’m not trying to be anything. This is just a hair style that I have now because I’m enjoying that my hair is thick and curly enough to support it. I went into it thinking, “I’m 22 and have nothing to prove.” so I just kept going.

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Of course this was before Ferguson, Baltimore, Charleston, and the other countless events of racial injustice and violence in the last few years.

My hair  has always been something that others use to draw conclusions about me. Now that I have dreadlocks people assume I’m a festival-going, weed-smoking, dirt-worshiping, unshaven, girl. At first it stuck out to me because people started assuming I wasn’t a Christian. Then, people assume that I smoke marijuana all the time and do other drugs recreationaly. I don’t.

(*Even if I were that kind of person, I couldn’t. Taking anything that induces a dissociative or hallucinogenic state when you suffer from a dissociative disorder is pretty stupid and never going to be a good time.*)

I do sometimes take advantage of the fact that people assume things about me. I tend to let my leg hair go longer than it should because people assume I don’t shave anyway. I use it as an easy way to shrug off and not have to defend that fact that I compost and garden, that I like to be eco-friendly, and I own a tortoise as a pet. But the truth is, this is just the way I have my hair right now and I can cut it off if I want.

Although science has advanced to this point, most sane people don’t want to change the color of their skin and they shouldn’t, Rachel Dolezal aside.

But in the same way that people assume things about my hair, there are people in America that live their whole lives having assumptions made about them because of their skin. In the same way that I resent not being seen as a person, they do too.

I’m white, I can cut my hair and dress preppy and blend in. My hair has been used over and over again to define me, but I can always change it.

There has been a lot of talk about white privilege recently. To be honest, as someone whose life was filled with horrors, I was wounded by the idea that my race has saved me from anything. But what I’ve learned is that just because I’m not in a cross-section of society where I would notice special treatment, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

White privilege is the fact that I can attend an Ivy League University without worrying about people wondering if I’m there because of affirmative action.
White privilege is the fact that if I were at that same university, no one would assume I know where to buy drugs.
If I were to be a gunman, it would be blamed on my PTSD and my history of trauma instead of my skin tone or religion.
If I were abducted overseas it would be a international issue.
If my husband and I move to a poor neighborhood people would wonder why we lived there and not think twice about why the people of color on our street live there.
White privilege is being a white woman on food stamps that you can bet was treated differently than if she were black.
If a white woman has babies by different men, it is considered a fault on her and not her race.
White privilege is that your customs and traditions are seen as “normal”.
White privilege is that I can go to church and not worry about violence.

What makes me angry is when I’m not seen as an individual. People of color are not afforded that luxury in this country. They are seen as units; measured by a collective “good” or “bad”. One person’s dreams, hardships, and triumphs are measured against everyone else.
When a white person wins an Oscar or another prestigious award, we feel happy for them. But if a person of color wins the same award we paint a picture of a whole group of people being elevated.
Why do you suppose that is?
Because what is white is considered normal.

It’s why superheroes are intentionally made black. Because when these creators are closing their eyes and making up larger-than-life people to protect the greater good, they see white faces looking back at them. We are indoctrinated into white meaning normal, white meaning individual, white meaning the control group.
An errant white person is considered an anomaly.
An errant person of color is considered to underscore the norm.

I’ve hit a lot of road blocks in my life; my mental illness, my gender, my social status, my income, my religious views.
But, outside of the Church, it is when I lean towards something that isn’t white or “normal” that I am judged most harshly.

I’ve never been asked about my eye shape, skin tone, religious practices (Although, to other Christians, Anglicanism seems rather foreign), or to defend my position on “white issues”.

I’ve had to explain how I could be adopted by a Hispanic man. As if my father is precluded from loving and rescuing me because it should be nice white people adopting children of color and not the other way around. But the judgement isn’t on me, it’s on him. My immigrant father, who works harder than anyone I know, who makes time for his daughter and sons, and his church; the mere fact that his capability to do anything should come into question is infuriating.

But that is white privilege: That it’s never a question that my white mother could have adopted me.

I have been ignorant, and for that I ask forgiveness. I thought that my ardent attempts to avoid racism and be loving were enough. They were instead eclipsed by my silence.

Consider this as a closing thought:
If I were black, because of this post, I’d be considered an “angry black girl”.

Consider me an angry white girl. Until these issues of race are brought into the spotlight and carefully examined, consider me an angry white girl.

courage, God, healing, hope, Life, love, race, racism, social issues, Trauma, white girl, white privilege