The night before I chopped off my hair, I got nervous.

This decision felt bigger than me, given all the weight that Black women’s hair carries. But after three months of wearing hats and scarves in a pandemic when trips to the hairdresser felt unsafe, I walked into a salon emotionally exhausted but ready to finally see my natural hair.

I thought a few tears would fall, but, as the last of my chemically straightened hair floated to the floor like rain, I felt cleansed. Free. I laughed hysterically as I drove away from the salon.

Friends and family cheered me on virtually, but my father quietly worried about my decision. My dad grew up in the Jim Crow South, where many women

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