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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.




    About The Author

    kavona crop
    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.