Kayla Brown


Kenya tried to sound the word out, feeling her candy blue-colored tongue hit the roof of her mouth The letters underlined in red reminded her of blood She could see Miss Bowen’s scowl in the word and gnawed at her bottom lip, remembering how the teacher’s eyes forced her to fidget in silent submission

“Kenya that hair is inappropriate.” “Please, have it taken down by tomorrow”

With her scalp stinging and her neck still strained from how she slept the night before, she knew Momma was gonna go off 8 hours of Good Times and 227 reruns and $200 had birthed knotless box braids that draped to the middle of Kenya’s spine While Kenya dreamed of swimming pools, Momma dreamed of an extra 15 minutes of sleep

The only mercy Miss Bowen had bestowed was telling Kenya this in the hallway away from straight hair and blue eyes away from stares and questions about how Kenya’s hair grew so long in a day

If only Kenya could tell stories to Miss Bowen Stories that her braids clearly told but soared over the white woman’s head Stories of African tribes’ dancing fingers bobbing and weaving in between strands of struggle Centuries of hair-craft that protected her from humidity and an identity loss