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  • The State of Black Hair in a Mental Health Facility


    Mental health facilities must don’t care

    Cause my African American hair

    is as brittle and hard as a rock.

    Inquiring about something to utilize

    Staff brings out a comb I haven’t seen in years

    A small black piece of flimsy plastic

    It bared the tiniest teeth

    I laughed as I continued down the hall

    Staring into the mirror

    I questioned, “Is there any way I could try this?”

    But I did, and I was quickly reminded

    that for one: I am a natural queen.

    My hair is so thick and dark in hue

    Ombre tangerine tips that would normally shine in the sun

    Seem dull and breaking to be rebirthed

    Even as I travel through my sentiments and diagnosis

    I find pride in my tresses

    Without conditioning agents and hydration

    I’m unsure how they will ever flourish here

    Every hospital I’ve visited never finds it necessary

    to have more than a 2-n-1 or “no moisture” shampoo

    Filled with surfactants and parabens

    Not a tad of petroleum jelly

    Or any kind of oil

    I would take anything

    I’m desperate

    So desperate I used a bit of lotion to calm my coils

    And as I tried to create a part, my hair almost shed a tear

    I could sense it ripping from the very roots it stood

    Forbidden to use ties, bows, or bobby pins

    Is it cause I’m crazy enough to kill myself?

    Drape a hair accessory around my throat?

    Or meticulously poke myself in the eye?

    Self-care means taking care of my head

    Nourishing it as I would my body and mind

    Mixtures of coconut oil


    And some other shea butter goodness

    We as women of color deserve the tools

    To be as beautiful as we are outside of these walls

    Our strength, our pride exudes through our crowns

    Do not diminish us.

    Do not dismiss us.

    Respect our black hair.






    I come from a long line

    Of women with big behinds

    And huge boobs

    These 40H things sit out so far

    With or without a bra

    Which are unsupportive at best

    Like I got four balloons in my chest

    Women kill for these things

    Silicone implants

    Pretty piece of change

    “Girl imma call you milk jugs”

    But, bitch that’s not my name

    And, no I’m not to blame

    Other girls grew normally

    Trying on trainers so formally

    By fifth grade I was filled out

    Stacked like the house of pancakes

    Men chased me down at thirteen

    Wondering how I filled in those jeans

    I was basically grown

    From the outside looking in

    But I was just a child

    Not ready for awkward stares

    Pinching and remarks

    Little boys without cares

    Motherfuckers without hearts

    As I grew I was used

    Men loved me

    Wanting to titty fuck me

    Although they never stayed

    My cahoonas sure got play

    Suck and supple til erect

    And as hard as nails

    My shirts too tight, too low

    Oh, go to hell

    Buttons popped

    Sweet mountains of dew

    Gravity has lowered them a smidge

    And I seem to get emotional

    As if I was that same kid

    Riding the bus home

    Wishing to be left alone

    Wanting to release my breast free

    Swinging carelessly in the breeze

    Smiling, giggling, I AM FREE!


    About The Author

    kavona crop

    Kavona K. White

    Kavona White is a “poet in the making.” Ms. White received her B.A. in Sociology from Norfolk State University. She currently has decided to give her passions her full attention, and become a writer. After dealing with her own issues with mental illness, she finds poetry a necessary part of her therapeutic regime. Her aesthetic is honest, personal, and raw.