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Afro Puffs

Afro Puffs

(Originally published in the San Diego Reader July 11, 2012.)

My three-year-old daughter has a beautiful Afro. It’s big and round (unless she’s leaned back in her car seat and flattened it), and most importantly, she loves it. After I use the pick to roundify it, I adorn it with one of the brightly colored headbands I purchased at the Rite Aid on Adams Avenue ($4.99 for a pack of six). My daughter runs to the full-length mirror in my bedroom, where she dances and sings, “I’m a princess! Shake your booty!”

I’m overjoyed that she loves her hair. I’m also afraid there will come a day when she tells me she wishes it were long, straight, and yellow.

Yesterday, on the way to her gymnastics class at the Toby Wells YMCA in Kearny Mesa, we saw a little girl with Afro puffs on both sides of her head walking through the parking lot hand-in-hand with her mother. My daughter pointed and shouted, “Look, Mommy! She looks like me!”

And a month or so ago, on a walk through Bird Rock, we saw a black woman with a mass of curly hair ride past on a bicycle. That day, too, my daughter pointed and said, “Look, Mommy! She has hair just like you!”

I have to control an impulse to run after these people, to ask them to come and populate our world. Back in March, when two little black girls showed up at the ballet class my daughter takes at the YMCA in Chula Vista, I went out of my way to introduce myself to their mothers. I probably came off as an eager beaver.

My husband and I have had a thousand conversations about whether we should move our family to New Orleans, where he grew up and where the majority of his gigantic family still resides. Our recent move from City Heights to Eastlake has both postponed that conversation and made it more poignant — postponed because we’ve purchased a house, poignant because Eastlake isn’t exactly Diversity Central.

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