Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Things that blow my hair back

There have been plenty of items in the news these days to make my hair stand on end, so I liked to pause for a moment to reflect on a few things that blow my hair back. A few things that fill me with a sense of awe.

For starters, my hair was blown back by the voice of mezzo Sarah Larsen when she sang "Deep River" last Sunday. Sarah's just here from New York for a couple of months. If you're anywhere near the Seattle area, listen up. Sarah Larsen is giving a recital through the Seattle Art Song Society with accompanist Elisabeth Ellis and tenor Eric Neuville this Friday, July 28, 7:30 p.m. at Queen Anne Christian Church, 1316 3rd Avenue West, Seattle, WA, 98119. More details here.

A few other things that blow my hair back:
  • my sister-in-law Cheri is 3-scans cancer-free after struggling through a diagnosis of nodular melanoma last year.
  • son George just passed the 1,000 mile mark on the Pacific Crest Trail
  • Coffeetown Press has accepted my memoir "How We Survive Here: Families across time," the story of my quest to trace my ancestry, due out in 2018 
  • this coming September I'll be studying writing at Moniack Mhor Writing Centre near Inverness in Scotland with authors Amanda Smyth, Paul Murray, and Jane Harris
For it all, I feel a sense of fathomless gratitude.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Hair discrimination

It felt like a blast from the past, a furor over school dress codes. In this case, though, it wasn't a policy across the board against girls wearing pants in school as it was in my day. This dress code smacked of racial discrimination.

I happened to be visiting in Boston, Massachusetts mid-May when Malden charter school in the Mystic Valley area came under fire for discrimination against hair braid extensions, a relatively recent fashion trend. Here are a couple of examples of hair braid extensions from http://lightinthebox.com.


According to a May 21 article in the Boston Globe, braid extensions were determined by school officials to be "unnatural" and "drastic" and "distracting." Students wearing braid extensions at school faced detention and possible suspension.

Students and parents cried foul. Why were braid extensions distracting on black and biracial students, while neon-bright dyed hair on white girls went unnoticed? There was also a hair-no-thicker-or-higher-than-two-inch rule. Wha - a - ? That policy also seemed to point directly at students with hair that could be styled as afros.

Under a flurry of protests and media exposure, within a week, the school lifted the braid extension moratorium. Oh yes, and after the Attorney General Maura Healey sent a letter to the school saying the policy was unlawful. In response, the trustees suspended the policy for the remainder of the year, but did not change or cancel it altogether. Sheesh. Get a clue.