What’s Your Hair Story? Guest Post by NoNieqa Ramos and Friends
It’s been a long time since I had a guest post on this site, but if I had to restart it then who better to kick us off than NoNieqa Ramos? If that name rings a bell there might be any number of reasons for that. Perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of this year’s fabulous and funny picture book Your Mama with art from Jacqueline Alcántara (and if you don’t believe me then maybe you’ll listen to Kwame). Or maybe you’re remembering that feature I did on this blog of NoNieqa’s upcoming 2022 picture book Beauty Woke? That book’s on the horizon, but here’s a bit of info: Ms. Ramos has another picture book out THIS year. But who would you rather hear talk about it, her or me?
That’s what I thought.
Only that’s not all. Because NoNieqa is including in today’s post pictures and hair memories from authors and friends Tami Charles, Mia García, Aida Salazar, Jessie Martinez, Melissa Gonzalez, Jandi, Martina Jackson Green, Octavia Hedgepeth, Jazmin and more.
Betsy, mil gracias for having me on Fuse #8 to talk about my upcoming picture book, HAIR STORY illustrated by Keisha Morris (Lerner Books), coming out September 7th, 2021!
HAIR STORY is a love letter to Black and brown inner and outer beauty, an ode to mamas and daughters and friendship, and prayer of gratitude to our ancestors and the icons who pave the way forward.
My two main characters and besties are named Preciosa and Rudine. Preciosa, a nonBlack Puerto Rican girl, is named after singer Marc Antony’s anthem to the beauty of Puerto Rico. Rudine, a Black girl, is named after Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, mother of multicultural literature.
Preciosa has hair that won’t stay straight, won’t be confined. Rudine’s hair resists rollers, flat irons, and rules. Together, Preciosa and Rudine play hair salon! They take inspiration from their moms, their neighbors, their ancestors, and cultural icons. They discover that their hair holds roots of the past and threads of the future.
With rhythmic and rhyming verse and illustrator Keisha Morris’s vibrant and vivacious collage art, our story follows Preciosa and Rudine as they discover the stories hair can tell. You can find more of Keisha’s gorgeous work at https://www.keishamorris.com/
FRo-Ments in Time Mural and Back Matter
The mural and back matter celebrates the historical hair stories of icons like Frederick Douglas, Diana Ross, Walter Mercado, Grace Jones, Marley Dias, Colin Kaepernick, and more. Many have asked if there will be an audio book, and I’m hyped to say, yes! Stay tuned to find out the BIPOC artists who will do the narration. Educators, you will love the educator guide, being worked on by Lorena German as I write.
I hope that all my readers will explore and celebrate their hair stories and hair journeys. I asked friends and family from within and without the kid lit community to share their hair stories and tips with me below. Just look at that baby pic of acclaimed author Tami Charles!
Hair Story from Tami Charles, author of picture book ALL BECAUSE YOU MATTER, middle grade BECOMING BEATRIZ, young adult novel MUTED, and more! https://tamiwrites.com/
“I use different oils. Coconut and jojoba are favorites. I take gummy hair vitamins. I don’t straighten my hair often. I like to vary my styles between natural afro, curly, braids, weaves, anything to protect it… I’m impressed by the elasticity and shrinkage of natural hair. My hair can look super short one day and then long the next. I didn’t appreciate my hair growing up. Now I love it!”
Hair Story from Mia García, author of young adult novels EVEN IF THE SKY FALLS and THE RESOLUTIONS and contributor to the upcoming YA anthology OUR SHADOWS HAVE CLAWS https://www.mgarciabooks.com/books:
“I’ve had curls since I was a baby . . . at some point they became harder to manage and didn’t look “presentable.” My mami would brush them out and out and out until I looked like I had an umbrella on my head. I’m very much still learning what actually works-like doing warm coconut oil soaks once a month. I throw my hair up in a bun for twenty minutes. Conditioning is key! Don’t overdo it with towels or skip the towels. Just air dry with the curl cream in. A diffuser is your best friend. The hardest thing [is]finding a stylist who knows what to do with my volume and curl . . . My best advice: Have fun with your hair. Explore!”
Hair Story from Aida Salazar, author of middle grade novels THE MOON WITHIN and THE LAND OF THE CRANES, the forthcoming picture book anthology, IN THE SPIRIT OF A DREAM: 13 Stories of Immigrants of Color (Fall, 2021), and much more! http://www.aidasalazar.com/books–writing.html
“My hair story is so wild. All my ancestors, colonizers and otherwise, come to roost in it. It was auburn as a child. It didn’t actually curl until after I was 18. My mother had no idea what to do with my unruly, thick-as-weeds, hair when I was a kid . . . so she cut it short. This worked perfectly for me because my gender expression was boyish. I had no patience for long hair. When I was in high school, it was in the ‘cha-cha’ years, so teased hair in East LA was popular and I definitely went there. Then I went mod, and I flat ironed my hair for years. It took my friend to tell me, ‘girl you have to work with that curl’ and she introduced me to coconut oil based products. Low and behold . . . the curls responded.”
Hair Story from Jessie Martinez, owner of the George Michael of Beverly Hills Salon, best known for the “George Michael Long Hair Care System”
“Here at my salon we’ve been recommending keeping the hair as natural as possible. We suggest minimizing damaging daily rituals such as blowouts. We recommend growing the hair one length with no layers or bangs. Use moisturizing products that are not alcohol based. To dry your hair, air dry it or set it with rollers. Yes, the old-fashioned kind, smooth-plastic or mesh. This smooths and repairs damaged and curvy cuticles. Roller setting helps engage the cuticle to lay close and smooth for a silky shiny finish and more elasticity. We are always striving to engage the body’s natural hair balance.”
Hair Story fromm Melissa Gonzalez, author of THE POP-UP PARADIGM, Founder of https://lionesquegroup.com/about-us/our-founder/”>the Lionesque Group, and Host of ABC News Radio #RETAILWITHMELISSA
“For Siena, I use conditioner and detangler to maintain her ringlets and shape it with my fingers. Latinas come in all shades and sizes and with many different hair textures… Nourish and love whatever type of hair you have. Embrace and love who you are!”
Hair Story from NoNieqa Ramos and Keisha Morris
Keisha and I have a page dedicated to our hair stories in the book, but here are a few more hair pics from me!
Jandi, a future author-illustrator who dried their tears and fought back against homophobia by creating Power Point presentations to help educate teachers and classmates understand gender and sexuality and who started the first Pride Month celebration at their middle school!
“My buzz cut is so comfortable. Next, I think I’ll dye my hair the pangender flag or amethyst purple.”
Hair Story from Professor of Communication at North Virginia Community College, Martina Jackson Green
“My best tips are 1. Find a conditioner that helps with detangling. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Look for things with oil! 2. One product does not fit all. Try different things and exchange with your friends. 3. All hair is good! Ask any woman suffering from alopecia. If you have hair, whatever the texture, it is good. Love what is yours just how it is.”
Hair Story from Octavia Hedgepeth, Information Security Engineer & Architect, Founder and CEO BarbeWired LLC
“My Beautifully-Black Baby Boy and His Long Hair.
As a newborn, only hours old, my son Aiden had a full head of jet-black, silky hair that made every person we encountered feel the need to compliment and ask to touch. He has never gotten a haircut. There are two reasons for this. The first is that I want to instill in my son a sense of pride in being a Black boy in the US. He can rock cornrows one day, an afro puff the next, and a full on-afro other days simply because his hair allows him to. Second, I want him to learn what it takes to care for and maintain his hair. The patience that comes from having to sit still while his hair is done. And the sense of confidence once the job is done and he’s the most handsome guy on the planet.”
Written by psychologist Rebecca Washington about her brilliant child, Jazmin, who due to her diligence, ambition, and resourcefulness, graduated from high school a year early!
From Jazmin: “I want be a lawyer or a psychologist. The human mind fascinates me and I want to help people. How the US law system works is also interesting. I could see myself debating in a court. I always thought it would be cool to be a judge.”
From Jazmin’s mama: “Jazmin’s routine is lather with coconut oil at night, wrap and sleep with it a few times a week. Wash out in the a.m. and dry with hair upside down with a diffuser half-way. Add a few drops or argon oil. Lots of YouTube and Pinterest pics inspired her to love her curls and not want to straighten or pull it back all the time. She had to ‘find her people’ and fall in love with their hair before she fell in love with her hair. The curly hair community online are super proud and excited to share their locks and inside tips, and that changed her whole belief system. Now she finds doing her hair is fun and she can be experimental!”
Readers, what’s your hair story? Please tag us with your pics on social media!
Thank you so much for reading. Please support Keisha and my book by preordering today. Preorders make a huge difference in the success of a book.
Preorder at Las Musas Bookshop or wherever books are sold!
Huge thanks to NoNieqa and all her contributors for this warm and wonderful outpouring of hair love.
Filed under: Guest Posts
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
SLJ Blog Network
One Star Review, Guess Who? (#184)
Review of the Day – Trees: Haiku from Roots to Leaves by Sally M. Walker, ill. Angela McKay
Review: Nat the Cat Takes a Nap
Here Be Monsters: On Horror, Catharsis, and Uneasy Truces with Yourself, a guest post by author Rebecca Mahoney
The Classroom Bookshelf is Moving