It’s become popular and, indeed, a must in most primary schools and nurseries worldwide to have some sort of diversity woven into the curriculum. From black dolls to books featuring kids in wheelchairs, you shouldn’t have to look too far to find diversity in the classroom.
I remember visiting my daughter’s nursery in England when she was just 1 year old and seeing the array of greetings on the door in 17 different languages. I was impressed! Probably only 1 other non-white kid in the nursery and no teachers who spoke any other languages but… that didn’t matter did it? As long as they had the obligatory black doll and the greetings in foreign languages.
I quickly learned that diversity in the classroom is more than just a nod in the right direction. When it affects your child and how she relates to herself and other people, it means building self-worth and acceptance of difference by every means available. It means not just the dolls but the books and the magazines they cut from and the short videos they teach from… and the songs you sing and the teacher and the teaching assistant and the festivals they celebrate… everything they do should reflect diversity.
My daughter has now entered primary school in inner city London- a much more ‘diverse’ school in terms of its student population. And yet, sometimes I feel their nod to diversity is just a box-ticking exercise. When it came to a superhero theme in her first year, visiting ‘heroes’ from the community including a local policeman, a vicar and a doctor were all white and male. Really? I thought. When asked about it, my daughter said “I’m not a superhero, that’s for boys”.
I spoke to the teacher about getting some more diverse experts and images. But the answer came back that images of female superheroes were too racy online and that they can’t be too choosy about the ‘experts’ that come to visit. We have to take what we get.
Defeated, I left. But, looking a bit deeper, I found dozens of images of female superheroes online that were not too ‘racy’. As for the experts, why couldn’t they make a request? Yes, it means putting yourself out there. And yes, it means rocking the boat a little. But that is exactly what teaching diversity- really teaching it- is all about.
When it comes to teaching, perhaps the odd nod in the direction of diversity in the classroom is sufficient but if we’re talking about understanding and making a difference… we need more. Because we are a multicultural family living in a diverse society, valuing and understanding difference is not only part of our being. It is essential.
But just because we as a family wear our diversity on our sleeve, why shouldn’t other families understand it in the same way? Children should know that difference is not bad… it is interesting and it is worth learning about.
As a society, we shy away from difference because of political correctness or because we don’t want to offend. But with my daughters, I want them to be able to ask the question about the child in the wheelchair, to wonder about the boy who doesn’t speak or the girl who may be slightly more challenging. For her to know about difference and be comfortable. Well, that is when I know we are not just teaching diversity, we are living it.
The other day my husband of 7 years asked me ‘do you identify as ‘other’?’ His question was in response to a moment me and my girls had experienced earlier that day. I’d felt defensive and self-conscious while walking through the English countryside and being asked (multiple times) whether we ‘belonged’ there or… “are you lost????” definitely made me feel like an outsider. I knew it was too subtle to call it racism but it definitely felt uncomfortable and something I knew I wouldn’t have experienced if I was on my own.
The topic of racial fluidity has been raised several times in the last couple of years. Recently, Paris Jackson called herself black through her relationship with her tenuously ‘biological’ Dad Michael. And of course the controversial Rachel Dolezal, who has called for black identity to be ‘fluid’ and non-binary in the same way gender is. With more questions being raised about how identity is formed and racial constructs that lie behind it, the question whether it is possible to identify as something other than what you are through one’s relationships has intrigued me.
I am part of a multiracial family, the majority of whom are black, or who will be viewed as black by society. Apart from my daughters and my husband, I am the only white face you see in my family. So, not to feel any sense of identity by virtue of osmosis or relationship would be impossible. Or, at least for me.
I have heard of other spouses who have non-white partners who become sensitive to the subtle racism that their partners feel on a daily basis. The wake-up to white bias is shocking and infuriating when it comes to the ones you love.
The first time it happened for me was when we entered a jewellery shop early on in our relationship. Soon enough I noticed a security guard as well as the shop floor assistant following hubby closely while he perused the rings. I, on the other hand, was not even noticed. Or, shall I say, after a few minutes, they did offer to help me but completely ignored hubby-to-be apart from the stares. I felt defensive and angered as though it were happening to me.
The experience and many like it have rocked my understanding of our world. Yes I knew racism existed. I wasn’t that naive but when you experience it and you become the object of it through your partnership (that was later on), you start to identify with it.
Since then, my children and I have felt the oh-so-subtle effects of middle class racism. The stares, the indignant looks that you may not belong in ‘this’ park- nothing major but enough to waken me up to the some of the realities of being non-white.
So yes, I guess in some ways I do identify as something other than what I am. I still have white privilege and I’m not naive as to think I know exactly what it is to walk in the shoes of a black person. But by virtue of my relationship. Because my family is black. Because I am part of a black family. And because my identity is multi- layered, my identity as a mother of mixed race kids and as the wife of a Nigerian man is intertwined.
Tried a new hair product recently and I think I’ve fallen in love. This isn’t a plug, don’t worry. But knowing where CurlyEllie came from and that the woman behind this brand is a mum of curly kids too, does help.
As many of you know, I’ve got three girls- each with uniquely textured and different-length hair. It’s difficult finding a product that works for all of them without being full of chemicals.
In the past I’ve used everything from Mixed Chicks to Deva Curl, Curly Q, Argan oil, Coconut oil and even my mother in law’s homemade mixture of shea butter and olive oil. It’s not to say that these products don’t work but I’ve always been on the lookout for a brand that I can trust and that EACH of the products works for my daughters’ hair- not just one.
CurlyEllie products came on my radar through my brother-in-law who knew the founder in Uni. I got in touch and found out a little bit more.
First off, all of the products are SULFATE FREE, PARABEN FREE, NO SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCES, NO MINERAL OILS and 100% Natural Fragrance.
For me, it’s important that the products I put into my daughters’ hair are 100% natural. I can see the build-up that results when I use other products and I admit, sometimes products that do contain alchohol or some enzymes can be effective but… not in the long run.
This is about teaching my daughters as well as showing them to value their hair and what they put in it. With so many kids suffering from exzema and allergies, it made me think a little more about what we put in and on their bodies.
Retailing at around £13 per bottle, they may cost more than just buying off the shelf at your local chemist. I have 3 girls, I’ll be honest, I know the costs add up but to me it’s important enough. If you already recognise the importance of buying curl-specific hair products, this is not much of a step further.
CurlyEllie originiated from a Mum. The familiar scenario of “seeing my 2 year old daughter (CurlyEllie herself) wincing as I pulled the comb through her forest of curls each night.”
She says, “Her curls were so beautiful but so difficult and upsetting (for us both!) to manage. I turned to friends, family and social media to find the answer. I would routinely stop other parents of curly haired children and ask for advice on hair care. The only consistent theme in the responses I got was that nobody was that happy with the products they were using. This led me to develop the CurlyEllie Hair Collection.”
The products themselves are easy to use, and come in the form of detangler, shampoo, conditioner and leave-in conditioner. I would have liked some sort of moisturizer to define the curls as well so I added a little oil to keep it moisturized throughout the day. But the shampoo, conditioner and detangler have become an essential part of our morning and evening routine.
I use the leave-in at night after I wash it and it softens the curls- making a huge difference to how they feel in the morning. The picture below shows my daughter’s hair after I applied the leave-in and I could run my fingers through her hair easily.
After applying CurlyEllie leave-in conditioner
Using a hair product whose only ingredients are plant products such as quinoa, broccoli seed oil and sweet almond oil is fabulous. It means I don’t have to worry about their hair drying out or being damaged by the mess that goes into most hair products nowadays.
I love where it comes from. I love the ethos behind it and I love the products themselves. Definitely a convert for CurlyEllie.
After all, it can’t hurt to consult with a professional even it’s just to get some advice about hair type, products specific to your child’s hair texture and how to keep it moisturised, how often you should wash it, what products work and what doesn’t…
So give them a call today and make an appointment. And do let me know if I’ve missed any! This list is only as good as you, my readers comments!
If you’ve got curls, coils or waves, then Matthew James is your go-to stylist!
Matt specialises in cutting, styling and caring for naturally curly hair.
In fact, he loves curls so much he focusses solely on cutting and styling textured tresses – the first stylist to do this in the UK.
Matthew is committed to giving his customers the best experience possible and will always start every appointment with a thorough consultation. If you love colour ask Matthew about the bespoke, curl-by-curl colour service to really make your curls pop!
Curl specific products are used in the salon to cleanse, hydrate and style – so no need to worry about harsh sulphates stripping your curls or silicones sealing out moisture!
At Klassic Koncept we are very happy dealing with all types of mixed race hair and have a wealth of personal experience and expertise to pass on to you,
Mixed race hairin particular and curly hair in general can vary in curl pattern and texture all over the head. Hair at the nape maybe very different from hair at the crown. What is required is attention to detail and careful analysis as the various areas of the hair will need to be treated and conditioned in different ways. We are confident that how we work with your hair will allow you to manage it and wear it with pride.
Whether you want to “Embrace your bounce”, straighten or colour we can guide you in the right direction. We won’t be judgemental about whether you want to be curly or straight – it’s your hair and a beautiful accessory, not a political statement. We also don’t get too hung up on curl types, it makes no sense when the hair varies from one area to the next. It’s sometimes useful as a general description but serves no purpose in the actual decision with what to do with your hair. Far more important is the texture and with mixed race hair a common error is that often density is taken for coarseness, when in fact the exact opposite is true. Each head of hair is individual and what works for one may not work for another.
Need help with your curly hair? Here at Nuala Hair Studio, Bristol’s best hair salon, we love cutting, styling and colouring curly hair. Whether your curls are fine, medium or thick we are here to help. We understand that your hair has different needs to straighter hair. We understand that the shape is very important to you, the texture is doing what you want, and we will listen and guide you through style, maintenance and home care. We can offer excellent curly hair advice using specialist hair products that will work for you. We love to give you great tips on how to get the best out of your curl using good techniques that aren’t difficult!
Cococheno hair salon is Bristol’s leading multicultural Afro/European hair salon outside of London. We are a reputable salon committed to providing the best product and excellent service to all our customers.
Our friendly team has over 20 years experience constantly staying in touch with the latest trends and learning new techniques. With a reputation for excellent service Cococheno strives to maintain a high level of customer care with an in depth consultation and achievable styles personalised for you and top tips to maintain your style at home. Experience pure pampering in stylish and friendly surroundings.
Our creative team has a vast knowledge working with Afro, European, curly and multicultural hair. We offer a full range of hairdressing services including styling, cutting, colours, relaxers, texturisers, perms and the Yuko hair straightening system.
If you have got curly hair you’ll understand. Curly hair needs to be treated differently and with #Vickyqueenofcurls (google it!) you’ll find a stylist that is an expert in the personal nature of curly hair. Of course, every client’s hair is different, but this is especially relevant when it comes to curly hair.
Our Curly Hair Service, in our Manchester salon is part consultation, part dry cut and part aftercare advice. #Vickyqueenofcurls comes highly recommended and is Manchester’s foremost expert in the intricacies of Curly Hair Treatments.
You’d be amazed how often clients with naturally curly hair have come to us in despair of ever finding someone who can deal with their hair type. The level of bounce and the texture of naturally curly hair can throw a few curve-balls at you!
However, we LOVE curly hair and all its challenges. In fact if you know what you’re doing it’s not so much of a challenge.
Scott – our resident curl expert says : ” With curls you have to take into account that the overall shape of the style may change depending on how curly the hair is on that particular day and also that the client might want to also wear their hair straight so you still need precision cutting – I often cut curly hair dry, so I can see the shape that I want to end with – then I get the hair cleansed and treated and go for the detail of the cut.”
Faye Lawless Hair are the curly hair experts. Frustrated curlies fear no more. We are here to help you manage and celebrate your curls. We offer the complete curly hair care experience from cutting curly hair in the right way, colouring, curl smoothing and the all important home styling and after care advice.
Our out of town hair studio in Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne is a place of creativity and style, and possibly the friendliest professional hair salon in Newcastle. We are confident that you will find no where better for your personal and professional hair design solutions for men and women young and old; hair styled, hair cut, hair up, hair perm, hair straight, hair curly, dry cut, blow dry, roots or hair colour, coffee or tea, at your hairdressers Newcastle.
Our style team are chosen for their expertise, passion and creativity. Hair is as individual as our fingerprints, and we know it is important that you get the cut and colour that enhances your style. Our ladies’ and gentlemen’s hairdressing services are tailored individually to give you beautiful, natural and manageable hair every day.
Curl Love, Azzini Hair 3 high street, Botley, Hampshire, SO302EA
From ‘curl coaching’ to colour to intensive hydration treatment, Curl Love has great reviews and it’s easy to book an online appointment.
We are proud to say that we are rapidly becoming the curly hair specialists of the north, with clients that travel far and wide to visit it us. Our main aim is that you enjoy your experience our relaxed, but professional approach to hair and beauty. Lead by multi award winning, and Avlon educator, Serena Giscombe, the Made family are approachable, empathetic and knowledgeable.
Every client of “The Cutting & Colour Room” is a real life testament to our professional craft of cutting, shaping, and styling hair in way that reveals our clients natural good looks. Curly, thick locks, or fine and straight – “The Cutting & Colour Room” has the creative talent and exceptional skills to help you look amazing.
We know what it’s like to struggle for YEARS with curls until you learn how to embrace them and look after them. That is why at Kate Preston Hair in Fareham (Hampshire) we made it a priority to become Curly Hair Cutting Specialists.
We understand curly hair has special needs and it takes a special skill to cut it well. You must know how to look after your curls. So many people just don’t have a clue how to manage them well and are left struggling with their hair!
If you want to trade your frizzy unmanageable curls for drop dead gorgeous sexy curls then Kate Preston Hair and Beauty in Fareham is the place to come.
“I’m Nikki Sampson and my passion is to help other curly ladies embrace their natural curls. For many years I was never happy with my curly, frizzy hair , apart from the 1980s when even I had perms! I was always on the lookout for the miracle product that would change my relationship with my hair. Unfortunately the hairdressing industry as a whole treats curls as if they are the same as straight hair. There is virtually no specialist training available and many products which are marketed at curly hair are a big let down and a waste of money. I had to travel many miles to find a hairdresser who understood curls and didn’t want to straighten them or fluff them up.
This inspired me at the grand age of 51 to take the plunge to go to college and train in hairdressing so that I could then go on to specialise and help curly ladies rediscover and love their curls. I spent six months travelling to London one day a week to work for and learn from curl specialist Lindsey Hughes, before completing an advanced level 2 DevaCurl course in New York last November.”
*Disclaimer: I haven’t tried each and every one of these UK curly hair salons but I did scour the internet for good reviews and recommendations from fellow curlies. Leave your comments below if you’ve tried any of these and what your experience was like.
I swore I’d never be that Mum. The white mum whose biracial kids curly hair care looks like the Mum has no clue and her only attempt at ‘doing’ her daughter’s hair is to brush it– down.
Three daughters later and with all three sporting completely uniquely textured hair, I quickly learned that wash, brush-and-go would not work with my girls’ curly hair. A mountain of research, plenty of questions to friends and family and a motto to ‘learn as we go’ is the only way we’ve gotten this far. Now, with a 3 step routine every morning with each daughter, it’s gotten slightly easier but no less complicated.
So, I feel your pain. Not the pain at having curly hair. Truly, I love their curls. I love how it looks, how it feels and I love that each one is unique in how her hair falls- a lesson I am constantly reinforcing. Curls are amazing.
But what I don’t love is how little I know about how to do it. I have straight hair and before having kids, I’d never heard of co-washing, could never imagine sleeping on satin pillowcases and putting ‘oil’ in my already oily hair was the last thing from my mind. So I’ve done my homework and then some.
So if you love your kids, you’ll only want the best and time is nothing when it comes to doing it right. We’ve now gotten it down to a 20-30 minute routine, depending on how cooperative my girls are and the hairstyle they choose. (I definitely hate braids).
So I am offering some helpful tips, the best websites, hair tutorials from the experts and information to identifying the best curly hair products for your biracial kids curly hair care routine.
Figure out their hair texture.
I figured out early on there is a whole school of thought about curly girl hair type which, once identified, can open up all sorts of doors in terms of products recommendations and what would likely work on your child’s hair. So, to identify your biracial kids curly hair care type, check out these sites:
For morning routine tips and knowledge from other parents who can sympathise, visit: Curly Nikki
This Mama of biracial kids features curly girl hairstyles of the week and regular hair tips. Visit: Weather Anchor Mama
3. Get tips!
I’ve gotten so many helpful tips from blogs and articles I’ve read online about hair care. From co-washing to leave-in conditioner, to wetting my daughter’s hair every morning to activate the curls, start with these and you’ll feel like an expert in no time. The best part is that they’re not written for hair experts but cover the basics and give real, non-judgemental advice.
From detangling, hair regimens, and top styling tips for doing toddler hair, the UK based (hurrah!) British Curlies has it all. Not one to miss!
Although we all wish it was just about the amount of research you do that equals success, it is actually about trying, trying and trying more… And, then, just because it works on one child’s hair, it may be different for your other child. Because biracial kids curly hair care will depend on the season, the weather, the thickness, length and curl size of each hair type- not just their hair texture. For reviews and recommendations for different curly girl hair products, go to:
Nothing beats a recommendation from a friend or someone you know. Every time you see another child with curly hair and you like what you see, ask the Mum what their hair regime is. Mums love talking about curly hair as do curly haired girls themselves I’m learning! Particularly if the child has hair similar to your ds or dd, make sure you ask them what products they use, what kinds of hair styles they do and what hair dresser they go to (it’s not every black hair dresser that can do mixed curly hair and the same goes for upmarket European hair salons- they may be expensive but curly hair has its own rhythm and texture).
7. Finally, and most importantly: Embrace the curls!
“I embrace my kids’ curls through praise and curly hair education. It is important to me that they love their hair, so I constantly tell them how beautiful and amazing it is. I never speak negatively about their curls or allow myself to show any frustration when I’m doing their hair. I make it a point to teach them about the products I’m using and why I am using them, as well letting them help me add their conditioner and styling products in anticipation of them one day managing their curls by themselves.” – See more at: Curly Genes: Meet Two Moms Who Embrace Their Kids’ Curls
You asked for it and here it is mixed race parents. London’s best mixed race curly hair salons. Let’s face it, if you’re mixed or your children have hair that’s a completely different texture, trying to do it on your own can seem overwhelming. A mixed friend of mine commented once that her Mum (perhaps because she had no clue) used to do her hair as if she was a cotton bud!
Jokes aside though, it’s important to get the right advice from professionals who can advise you on products, textures, hair styles and more. I will feature hair many time on this blog I imagine, but the best advice you’ll get is from a professional looking at your child’s hair and showing you what works.
***Disclaimer: this list is compiled through some dedicated research and existing reviews so I cannot vouch for all of these salons but they were often mentioned by people asking for the curly hair salons.
Unruly Curls– 2 Peoples Hall, 2 Olaf Street, W11 4BE, London
Likely London’s only curly hair salon that isn’t specifically for afro hair, it doesn’t get much more specialised than Unruly Curls. They are all about loose, tight, textured, you name it…curls. Beware though, I didn’t find many reviews about the rest of the staff but the owner, Michael Price seems to know what he’s doing and has received much ado. He also imparts his knowledge on how to maintain upkeep which is always a blessing. I’ve also heard the prices are reasonable.
So I had the pleasure of doing a full review of Curly Hair London and shared her tips and expertise here…“I follow the Curly Girl Method, and will dry cut curly types of hair and after will wash it and style. I always suggest non- sulphate and non silicone products to my customers as curly hair dries out very quickly.
I’ve had countless people come in with flat, listless curly hair or thick, frizzy, unmanageable curls and I take huge pleasure in restoring the natural shape of their curls and helping them understand how to make their curls work best for them.Curly hair is beautiful,and with the right cut and the right sort of care, anyone with a natural wave can have glorious, stess-free hair.” I can vouch that she is probably one of the best when it comes to mixed race curly hair salons in London.
“Whether your curls are fine, medium or thick we are here to help. We understand that your hair has different needs to straighter hair. We understand that the shape is very important to you, the texture is doing what you want, and we will listen and guide you through style, maintenance and home care. We can offer excellent curly hair advice using specialist hair products that will work for you. We love to give you great tips on how to get the best out of your curl using good techniques that aren’t difficult!Some clients have children with very different hair to their own texture so we can show you easy and creative quick ways to do your kids hair at home. Advice on mixed race curly hair is really helpful to keep all of you looking fab all the time. It shouldn’t be a chore and with some simple hints and tips, curls will be celebrated and shown off!”
With a specialism in mixed race curly hair, “Darren Scott is a qualified hair stylist and make-up artist who has worked his magic on some of the biggest celebrities in the world. Following on from this success Darren opened his first salon in Maidavale. Darren Scott believes that a visit to one of these mixed race curly hair salons should not just be to get your hair cut, coloured or styled. It should be about the experience. Darren has personally trained all stylists to ensure great standards are always met, and new techniques are shared and delivered. You will be welcomed with a smile by our friendly and helpful staff. Our teas, coffee and hot chocolate are all fair trade, we buy coffee beans and use our burr grinder on the day to make you the freshest coffee available. Our aim is simple, to make you look and feel truly great.”
“Caring for natural curls requires the right product for your type of curl, your hair’s condition and your scalp health. At Afrotherapy, in addition to our professional London afro salon, we also stock and extensive range of afro, multi textured and curly hair products in salon and on our online store at www.afrotherapy.com. During your hairdressing appointment at Afrotherapy Salon, your expert afro and multi textured hair stylist will advise you on different styling methods and prescribe the perfect products for you to take home and maintain the condition of your hair in between salon visits. One of the best mixed race curly hair salons in London, we stock an extensive range of products from leading professional afro haircare brands including Mizani, KeraCare, Moroccanoil, CURLS, Design Essentials, Ferm,FRO, Mixed Chicks and many more.”
6. The Curly Way,mobile hairdressers in London, call to book an appointment: 07517 441 080 or 07450 247 365
This mixed race curly hair salon offers “a free consultation in order to assess your curls needs followed by an individually tailored drycut for your curl type. We respect the natural pattern of your curls and will give you hair that you can go home with, wake up and style yourself time after time with great results and ease.”
“Anastasia Chikezie is the founder of PURELY NATURAL one of the first natural hair salons to open in the UK. The first branch was opened 24 years ago, June 1990 to be exact! Purely Natural Contemporary natural Hair Salon is a multiple award winning salon, who specialists in Afro and Mixed Textured natural Hair. Ever dreamt of having healthy, beautiful looking hair, well you’ve come to the right place. From the moment you arrive at our salon, you’ll feel the stress of your busy lifestyle evaporate. Spoil yourself, relax and liven up in our contemporary natural mixed race curly hair salons. Purely natural have been providing first class services to the people of London and beyond since 1990, Styling some of the world’s celebrities and recreating fashionable styles for our customers, fashion shows and events.”
“Made the decision to stay natural or transitioning? We at 3thirty have made it our mission to reveal that no matter what trend hairstyle is set out there today or tomorrow whether its weaves or relaxed it can be interpreted naturally!The 3thirty hairdressing team have been carefully trained to an expert standard of styling and can confidently work with any hair type, from European, to Afro to Asian. Salon owner Tiff J’s passion is for transforming the way the way people look and feel about themselves and her talent and enthusiasm continue to inspire her team as the salon welcomes new friends into the 3thirty family.”
“In April 2014, we launched our first Natural Hair & Loc Bar on Acre Lane, Brixton. It’s boutique, it’s fresh and we’d love to have you with us soon. The current Adornment365 Salon team is highly qualified. We hold formal haircare qualifications and have nutritionists and trichcologists on team. We consider this level of expertise critical to partnering with you for your long term hair health. As a brand we prioritise hair and scalp health over styling solutions. But you will always leave looking great.”
“Fed up with curly hair that turns to frizz? Had enough of curly hair breaking off? Desperate to have healthy curly hair that behaves itself?
At Karine Jackson Hair & Beauty in Covent Garden, we are specialists in making curly wavy hair look sensational. One of the best mixed race curly hair salons you’ll come across, when it comes to colouring curly hair, Karine Jackson uses the superb Organic Colour Systems which delivers curl-friendly colour.”
At number 11, these mixed race curly hair salons had this to say: “Having been trained at the world renowned DevaCurl Hair Academy in New York and LA – and now, officially, an Advanced DevaCurl Specialist myself – I am passionate about celebrating your unique curls and giving all my clients curl-confidence.”
Although being skilled in working with all hair types, curly hair specialist Raquel Fernandes – founder of Beyond Curls, developed a passion for curly hair. Being a curly girl herself and having suffered bad haircuts, she felt that there were not enough hair stylists in the UK who understood curly hair. Raquel knew she wanted to make a difference and be able to help curly hair girls and guys feel confident about going to a hair salon.
Raquel decided to attend hair school and trained to become a fully qualified hair stylist. She took this further by enrolling at the world renowed DevaCurl Academy in New York, USA and gaining the ‘Deva Inspired Curl Stylist’ qualification. It was at the DevaCurl Academy where Raquel enriched her skill of working with curly hair by adopting the dry curl by curl cutting & pintura highlighting methods. Raquel also underwent the DevaCurl ‘Art of Texture’ speciality course for highly textured & super curly hair. This enabled Raquel with the skills to work with all textures and specialise in mixed race curly hair salons – from the loosest waves to the tightest curl.
For more resources about teaching your children to love their curly hair, read on…
We were recently re-united with our children’s extensive book collection. So what, I can hear you saying.
Well, the last time we moved, I couldn’t carry more than a handful on the plane so sadly we had to leave our extensive collection back in Nigeria.
You know the feeling, when you’re looking for things and you know you have it but can’t bring yourself to buy it again, it can drive you nuts. Well, it drove me nuts anyway.
So finally, almost 2 years later after we moved to London, a friend was able to bring the lot. So that’s where I am… reunited with my vast collection of books. And there you are, wondering why this matters…
When I got these back, it was like going through years of memories, moments and experiences my daughters and I had shared reading endless stories every night.
You see, books are not just books to us. They are a way of communicating with my children. With books, we’ve introduced the concept of bullying, sharing, loneliness, and skin colour. With books, we’ve been able to talk about difficult subjects without making it about them.
My daughter’s concept of a bully was defined in a book called “Me and My Dragon” because it featured a bully who was incidentally a chubby boy with a baseball cap on. I remember reading it once and it sparked a conversation about what is a bully. To this day, when we’ve spoken about someone bullying, my daughter protests, “but he isn’t wearing a baseball cap”!
The day identity and my daughter’s skin colour came up after school, I swiftly went online and ordered about 20 books that featured mixed race or brown skinned characters. Some of these included girls who bucked the mould and didn’t conform to ‘princessy’ ways or girls who were just different but were nonetheless proud of who they are.
I was not about to raise a child who is confused or ashamed about who she is. And with media and the majority of people she encounters donning white skin, we knew we needed to be proactive in discussing this important topic with her. After ordering our first haul that first time, within three weeks we could see a change in how our daughter talked about and discussed her own identity. She’s proud of her curly hair now and recognises the value in being unique and not following the crowd.
Other topics we’ve broached through the use of our books include curly hair, puberty and the changes our bodies go through, anger, gender stereotypes and following the crowd. Every time a topic comes up, it sparks a conversation about their lives and how one girl in their class for example, told her that her red hat was a “boy’s colour”. We discussed why she might say that and how much of what we see and hear might make us think that. Books that challenge our way of thinking are invaluable.
Many of our books now feature brown skin characters- an effort we’ve been intentional about but have sadly realised is way behind. Only 1% of children’s books feature brown skin characters.
But when you do get them and you see your daughter’s eyes light up when she sees the Little Red Riding Hood with brown skin and curly hair, she can’t hide her excitement. “She looks like me!”, she’ll say.
You see, for us, books are instruments. They are windows into important conversations and topics that I know will come up. As our children get older, we’ll inevitably encounter discussions about bodies, sexuality, death, religion, racism, cyber bullying and jealousy, amongst other things. Without books to turn to, these topics can become abstract. Throw in a protagonist who’s going through it and you have yourself an ‘in’. Then hopefully, the door will be open for further discussion when she actually does go through these things.
Indeed books have already introduced precious memories as our children have grown. We paged through the book “Going on a Bear Hunt” and relived days gone by when our nearly 6 year old was our only child and my hubby and I used to act out the story finishing off with an undercover cave where we’d hide from the bear.
Perhaps it was only through missing them that I realised my missing books’ value. I would encourage every parent, be careful what you’re giving away. I know we can’t keep all the rubbish we collect from our children’s childhoods and by no means am I a hoarder. The day will come when I’ll have to go through their books and give them away but hopefully I’ll know these aren’t just pieces of paper we read every night but memories we’ll want to cherish. I hope they do too.
Visit my Pinterest page for inspiring lists of books for brown skinned or mixed race kids:
We all face the dilemma whether to send our kids to private or state school. However, for most people it’s not a dilemma. Paying out on average £6-10k a term- perhaps triple that if you have more than one child- is simply a privilege reserved for the better off.
And yet, there are people surprisingly, for whom funds are not an issue and yet they still choose state school over private. This surprised me, I have to admit.
And yet, here are five successful families who can arguably afford the fees, the lifestyle and whose social network perhaps has more in common with most private school parents than at our school which has a high proportion of Free School Meals pupils. I’d never heard of this phenomenon before but it got me thinking…
If money was not an issue and setting an individual’s politics aside, why would you choose state school over private?
Their answers surprised me.
“Because it gives our children a false sense of reality”. Number one on parents’ list. One set of parents I spoke to (both of whom went to private school themselves) claimed “ps offers a mind-numbing environment and a false sense of security that children are ‘entitled’ and ‘deserving’ of all their privilege”. It fails to equip their children for the realities of the world, which they subsequently will have to learn at University. “I don’t want my children to be surrounded by people who are only like them and have lots of money”, said one parent. “Not sure it makes them a nicer person.”
Ethnic diversity. A no brainer I suppose. Most people know private schools are not as ethnically diverse as state schools though some are better than others. Outside London it is possible to have a diverse intake – in London it seems more polarised. For children who come from non-white backgrounds, this can be an important factor that is overlooked for the sake of achievement but confidence and identity can suffer. On the other hand, even children who are not from an ethnically diverse background, surrounding them with children and families who are ethnically similar gives a false sense of reality for when they enter the working world. The world is a melting pot and (think Made in Chelsea), having friends of different backgrounds can show children different ways of working and compromise.
It can give kids a false sense of entitlement and achievement.Knowing that your parents paid for your education and that you got to where you are because of help can also affect confidence. Many parents don’t want their children to feel that they’re entitled to a ‘leg up’ and feel that they should work hard to get to where they want to be.
“I can think of better ways to spend £350k (a lifetime of school fees)”. Well, so could I when you put it that way. Parents I spoke to said it’s important for them to give their children experiences outside of school which will enrich their learning. For example, they took them on holiday to Kenya where they got to see animals in the wild and visited a local village and an orphanage. Still a privileged lifestyle but they argued they may not have been able to afford those trips if the children were in private school.
Higher expectations. It never occurred to me that there was more pressure from universities if your child attended private school. Some universities will ask for higher exam results from certain private schools than from some state secondary schools.
Private schools in the area only offer single sex education. Many private schools are single sex but state primaries and secondary’s are co-ed. Depending on the child, this can be a big factor for parents making that decision.
No need. Many parents look for private schools to fill in the gaps of parenting, But if you are hands on and supportive of your children’s schooling, it is possible to make up the difference. It can be expensive but less so than private school if you enrol your children in music/sport/drama/languages and tutoring in areas of weakness. And still have plenty left over to help them through university and setting up a home or career.
Life is not purely about academic achievement. Yes, private schools can guarantee better results and they will challenge your children to do their very best but for some parents, it’s about providing a happy home, making sure they get jobs they enjoy and are good at but which they can leave behind at the end of the working day. Achievement and results are part and parcel of most academic private schools. And that’s not a bad thing but perhaps not what’s right for all children or all parents. “I want to support my children in their ambitions”, said one parent. “That’s more important than an Oxbridge degree or friends in high places.”
Depends on the child. Some children need that extra push that a private school can give- they’re much more hands on. Some children will get lost in the academic pressure that governs many independent schools. So it really can be about what would suit your child best.
The state school down the road is simply better than the private ones. Like state schools, there are good independent schools and poor ones. Given how much is at stake, choosing your local state school is not necessarily about choosing the lesser school. Both can vary and it’s important to do your research about whether your local state school can do just as good a job if not better.
10 Things EVERY Parents Should Do When Raising Biracial or Mixed Race Kids
Take two parents, two entirely different cultures, traditions and perspectives and you get a family with some pretty tough discussions, strong opinions and choices ahead. We can’t do it all and we certainly won’t do it perfectly when it comes to our mixed race kids but there are some things we as parents need to prioritise when raising mixed kids of dual or multiple cultures.
Speak your language
If one of you speaks another language or originates from another country where English isn’t the first language, that means your mixed son or daughter could and should be bilingual. Even if you don’t speak it well, passing down any culture often goes hand in hand with language. Your mixed race kids may resent having to attend language school every Saturday now but they’ll thank you for it later on when they’re able to converse with friends and family from your native country.
2. Talk about your history
History can tell a thousand stories and telling your own history as well as that of your homeland will do wonders in opening up all sorts of discussions with your children. For us as a mixed race kids growing up with a Persian father, I learned fast that the Iranian Revolution marked a major historical upheaval and explains a lot about modern day Iran, its people, its diaspora and its politics. Pre-Revolutionary Iran and the ancient civilisations and dynasties also shed light on who and why Iranians are such a proud people. I don’t know if I would understand my Dad’s culture and origins if I didn’t have this perspective.
3. Emphasise both Cultures
Make sure you talk about both parent’s cultures to your children. So easy is it for parents to get caught in the trap of emphasising only the culture that is ‘exotic’ or foreign that the partner who hails from the country in which you reside or one that is more common, gets forgotten. Make sure both of your mixed race kids’ cultures and traditions are valued and explained and talk about it with each other to ensure you’re both on the same page.
4. Talk about race and racism
Even if you’ve never fell victim to racism, this is a must must discussion parents need to have with their children. Your children will have different experiences from you and they may have darker or lighter skin but either way they need to be able to talk about it and understand it even if you’re uncomfortable talking about it. (Read on for more about how to talk to your kids about racism)
5. Pass on your traditions
Traditions are so important in passing down one’s culture. You don’t need to do everything your parents did but highlighting the important ones, in discussion with your partner, will help your children again to understand where you come from and the parts of their culture which are important. In our family, we have chosen to continue the traditional Nigerian greeting but have chosen not to pierce our newborn daughters’ ears. We have made these choices consciously and with intention about what we wish our mixed race kids to take from Nigerian culture.
6. Mark your cultural festivals
With so many cultures to choose from, we’re never at a loss to have a reason to celebrate. From Canadian Halloween, to Nigerian Independence Day to Nowrooz (Iranian New Year) Festival, we seem to have it all covered. Each one gets as much attention as the next and we even try to ensure we can attend a community gathering to make it is as authentic as it was for us growing up with the real thing.
7. Demonstrate the importance of traditional greetings
Greetings are so important in today’s globalised world where countries, people and cultures emphasise different things in their greetings. In Nigeria, greeting an elder is a very formal affair involving a bow or a curtsy along with lowered eyes to show respect. In Persian culture, men and women typically kiss each other on the cheek three times to show affection and respect. It’s important that our mixed race kids understand how and why we greet each other in each setting so they can navigate their way around each cultural setting when they’re older.
8. Visit your home country with your children
Even if you’ve never been and you’re a third culture kid yourself, at least you had the benefit of being raised by parents who grew up there. Your children will need to see the real thing before they can understand your culture (and you) completely. The people, the cultural norms, complexities and weirdisms that make it up. Don’t let it become just a vacation spot either. Let your mixed race kids spend their summers there to know just how you grew up and how you actually lived.
9. Foster close relationships with your children’s Grandparents
Grandparents are so important to imbibing your culture in your kids. They carry with them all of the above- history, traditions, language. Developing that relationship and ensuring your mixed race kids get to know their grandparents will have a huge impact on them in years to come.
10. Give your children the freedom to adapt culture to who they are as third culture kids
Your mixed race kids are not you and their experience is going to be different from yours as children of an intercultural family. When they’re old enough, allow them to explore their culture for themselves and decide which parts they can identify with and which parts they don’t. This may change again when they have families of their own but it’s important that you let them be who they are and not decide for them even when they’re old enough to decide for themselves.
10 Things to Consider Before Having Biracial Children in an Interracial Marriage
If you’re planning to have mixed race or biracial children and you’re in an interracial relationship, consider these most common complications every parent of mixed heritage children has faced at one point or another.
There are so many amazing things that being part of a mixed family can bring to your life but of course like anything, beauty is complex. These are simple reminders to make you aware of what is coming and what you may need to discuss with your partner beforehand. As your mixed race or biracial children get older, try understanding each issue with as much openness and understanding as you would any other.
Your biracial children may have a different accent/ culture to you
“Mama, say ‘water’”, my oldest daughter pleaded. She laughed as I repeated the word with my heavy-Canadian accent, “waaaderrr”. I never thought my kids would be making fun of my accent. I just assumed we’d all speak the same, we’re a family, after all. Growing up first generation British and the daughter of mixed parents, (Nigerian and Canadian/Iranian/British), my three daughters are bound to have different accents, cultural experiences and different identities. As parents, it’s something you know that will happen when you have mixed race kids, but it’s tough when you realise they’re having completely different cultural experiences than you did growing up- even opting to adopt one culture or identity over another.
As mixed or biracial children, it’s their prerogative. Their language, accent, home, even their look is different to yours and though that may be the case with all kids, being of mixed parentage, it’s even more pronounced. Hey, some may even switch between accents depending on who they’re with. Accents, like any other part of their identity, can become fluid for mixed kids.
Consider that this is new territory for both you and your partner
Let’s face it, most parents of mixed or biracial children are of one heritage themselves and so finding themselves in this unknown world of mixed parenting is a minefield. It’s the constant arguments over whose childhood was better versus what is best for the child all the while both you being able to pass on your cultural identity in the process… It’s hard and neither of you is experienced in this area. You’re both so different and coming from such different backgrounds, you’ve never had to compromise on culture before. And inevitably you’ll both probably feel quite strongly about passing on your traditions and values.
Like anything, keeping the lines of communication open is the best way to deal with these discussions. I remember the discussion my hubby and I had about piercing our firstborn’s ears. In Nigerian culture, it was commonplace, even expected- so much so that despite our little one decked out in frilly dresses, relatives and friends would often insist they couldn’t tell she was a girl or not because she didn’t have pierced ears. We kept that conversation going for a long time, raising it at various times until we both came to an understanding about why it was important (or not) and what she (our daughter) would miss out on without it. It may seem trivial now but it took on more significance because we were so new to the interracial parenting scene.
Your biracial children may adopt one identity over another
Being biracial black and white, identity is and will be fluid. Associating different aspects to each cultural background, our kids are likely to adopt one over the other at different points in their lives. If they can pass as white, they might only identify as white. As they get older and they start to understand skin colour and race on a deeper level, they may identify more with their black parent, even going so far as to say they are not white (at all).
Another thing to consider is that siblings may identify differently from each other because of how different they look and their experiences as a result. My oldest daughter is darker skinned, looks much less ‘mixed’ than my other two and the only one with an identifiable Nigerian name. She will, inevitably have a different experience than the younger two- even opting to identify as black ‘like Daddy’ instead of being mixed. Be ready for it all and accept your children for who they are and where they’re at.
You’ll feel pressure from family about how to raise your biracial children
After the joy of having a new grandchild wears off, pressure will set in from family about how to raise your child. Starting from discussions about circumcision, ear piercing, the list goes on. Be prepared. Parents are likely to get involved in any family but when it comes to identity and culture, families can come from a place of fear of losing their cultural traditions when it comes to your children.
Older relatives may even be stuck in a different generation where things were done for hygienic, economic or practical reasons. Those reasons might not exist today and may not apply to your home country so decide whether these traditions are still right for you and your children.
By the same token, don’t just discount it just because it’s not practically relevant; it might still be important to your partner because of its cultural implications. The first bath in Nigerian culture for our little ones was a great example of this. It was important back in the day because midwives performed many procedures that we replicate in today’s Western hospitals. Hence, its significance is not practical anymore but the cultural value I could recognise, was still relevant and important to my husband.
You’ll need to go with the times
Your biracial children are going to take on some aspects of your culture, but not all. Just as you probably did growing up and then going on to have your own family. Even as they grow, they might not think that going to mosque is that cool or they may turn a cool eye to the traditional stews you slave over every night, preferring instead fish fingers and fries because that’s what their friends are eating.
I remember that feeling well, wincing in shame when one of my friends commented that my house always smelled like exotic food. I hated being different. Now I try to make a fusion of food so my little ones can experience it all. As they get older though, trust that your children will be proud of who they are. Maturity brings with it pride in being able to be different and feeling comfortable. Keep that in mind when you’re having that argument with your little one over whether they can wear their superman outfit over their agbada (Nigerian traditional garb).
Adapt to the country you’re living in
Kids just want to fit in with their friends-especially when they get to the teenage years. Evaluate very carefully how important it is for your biracial children to miss out on the biggest high school event of the year for a cultural event or insisting on traditional or cultural wear.
Our children just want to be themselves, and I agree there is a fine line between wanting to imbibe important values, morals and ethics onto our children and imposing our own ideas. Finding the balance, through talking it out, explaining your reasons and not dogmatically insisting without allowing for dialogue is easier said than done but necessary if you want to pull them along. Explain the reasons behind such practices, and don’t just assume they’re going to do them because you said so.
Encourage bilingualism but don’t make it torturous for them
If your child is resisting speaking his/her mother tongue – don’t get upset. Keep up with it, encourage it in gentle ways. You don’t really want your child to hate your language, do you? In reality, there WILL be a time when the need will arise to learn and to speak it. And your biracial children WILL show more interest.
Saturday schools are just as common as they were when we were growing up and I don’t know how I feel about them yet. I’ve read about grown-up children who hated it and still today don’t speak a lick of their language despite the torturous 3-4 hour lessons they were forced to go to every Saturday. I’ve also read about people who hated it growing up and now really value that they can speak, read and write their native language. Make decisions based on what you and your partner believe is right but keep your minds open as they get older.
The ‘homecoming’ you had in mind for when you bring your kids back to where you grew up may not be what you were expecting
It’s not just that they might not be feeling it but your expectations of bringing your kids, your offspring, your legacy back to where their roots are might be too much given the fact that your biracial children are mixed. They’re likely to have different accents, dress differently and even may be perceived as completely foreign. All of this will make them feel unable to relate to how you grew up and may make them feel like a tourist in your home country. Don’t take it hard or feel like they’re nothing like you.
Expect that your biracial children will question, even doubt or be ashamed of certain cultural practices
Be open minded- if your child comes home questioning something that you take for granted is cultural, allow him/her to explore it with you. Don’t just shut it down because you think it’s disrespectful. It may not be the right time at that moment when you’re at a traditional burial or wedding but remember these events and milestones are important markers of your culture and great ways for you to explain certain things. Many old traditions are built around births, deaths, weddings and milestones such as coming of age.
My husband recently took my daughter to one of his family naming ceremonies for a new baby. Naming ceremonies are important in Nigerian culture and depending on the families’ circumstances when the child was born, they can be quite emotional, marking the families’ joy after years of trying for another child or after losing a parent recently. The ceremony became quite emotional and the scene brought up many questions for our little one. My husband was able to explain what was happening and why- giving her context and insight into the emotions of the night.
Having children of your own will force you to confront your own childhood issues
Don’t assume that because they’re yours, they’re an extension of you. They’re going to have different experiences and therefore different issues, if any. So don’t make the bullying about racism if it’s not for them. If they do experience racism, take it in your stride and explain it to them, talk about it and don’t assume that this is going to be a major issue just because it was for you. I know plenty of mixed or lighter skin black people who say they never had to experience racist bullying.
Your biracial children have the chance to embody the best of both of you
Finally, remember that growing up in a mixed family is one of the most enriching and fulfilling experiences your child could ever have. Without even trying, your children will grow up with a healthy sense of diversity, tolerance, open mindedness, awareness and the potential for multiple languages. Being mixed allows your child to bridge gaps and embody diplomacy. With the ability to switch between multiple spheres and cultures.
So good luck raising your global citizen! For more about raising mixed heritage kids, click here…