Moving to Sweden was a joint decision for my husband and I . We thought then , " it will be a great idea to raise our kids in a society that prejudice and injustitic is less prevalent " . That was untill the reality of living here became a fight for my basic existence as a black woman .
Even my curly beautifull hair became a question to my identity .
I walked into a hair salong for a hair wash and i was told "Vi behandlar inte denna hår typ "- meaning we donot treat that hair type in here " .
As i tried to explain myself , the hairstylist got her opportunity to say "Vi behandlar inte SVARTA PERSONS HÅR HÄR I SVERIGE -meaning we do not treat black peoples here in Sweden ". My very lucious curly hair, beautifull and outstanding in its texture , glowing in it originality was experiencing an attack liken to an earthquark. I felt i was pushed onto a wall with no escape than to fight back .
Why can you not wash my hair , i questioned ?
You will have to ask my teachers where i studied my trade the lady stylist replied .
The whole place was quiet for a moment as i stired and affirmed with my body language that i know my hair is a work of art ,that have an unmeasureable equity.
" I am overdetermined from without . I am the slave not of the ideas that others have of me , but of my own appearance and opinions of myself " ( Fanon 1967:116 ) . As I momored these words from Frantz Fanons world renowed book on "Black skin , White Masks " fron 1967 , i remember asking :
Let me get the name of your institution where you studies , ? .
That was a journey that took me 2 years and 3 months to get a full reply from the inspectors of vocational training in Sweden , " there was no study plan for afro curly hair " they wrote but we welcome suggestions they insisted . Within these process i learnt to braid , style and do natural treatments for my hair . My grandmoms oil reciepes came in handy as i walked on my journey advocating for being black in Sweden.
Today we run a registered NGO "Working Across Borders Empowerment Center "( WABEC) where we empower women not just on their hair but on career development , autonomy within yourself through motivational speaking and other collaborations with the local chapter of the United nations within our kommunity in Kramfors-Sweden . Here we teach everyone who care to know about the beauty of "my curly beautifull hair . We teach young girls , mothers,father who are both biolological and adopted parent to kids with afro hair ,on how to care for the beautifull curly hair of their loved ones . We are seeing a change in attitude , perception and cohenrence within social spheres.
We are building and restoring self confidence in so many young girls who have hated their curly hair for such a long time . The feeling of being racialized by your hair or any appearance is an everyday battle for many young people with an african heritage in Sweden and within EU atlarge.
For my kids and many kids born and raised here ;
To be black in Sweden is to stand out in a society where blackness is a racial marker - only to exists as a counter-position to whiteness .
To be black in the country where they have their accesstralroots, is to be called coconut kids ( black on the outside - white on the inside ) .
Belonging to them have become an inbetweeness which is rather very confusing and radicalizing .
My curly beautifull hair helps affirms their personal being and creates tangible links to an authentic existence and acceptance within themselves.
I am a complete representation of my curly beautifull hair