This article from Heart and Soul Magazine tells the true story of why I had to write "My Daddy Braids My Hair."
It was in 2012 and she was five years old. It was up to me alone to get Ana ready for school as my wife, Monica, was in Japan for business. While doing Ana's hair, she said that she thought her curls were ugly and that she didn't like her brown skin.
I had been rocked to my core. Monica and I had had so many discussions on how we would raise her to be confident, strong, and to embrace her identity. My mind raced with questions, and my emotions fluttered through sequences of anguish, sympathy and disappointment. How long had she felt this way? How could we have so utterly failed her? And most importantly, how can I fix this? I needed to counter these external forces that worked against her self-esteem. It was at that moment when I realized, if I had never been tasked with doing Ana's hair, she may not have otherwise had the opportunity to tell me how she felt. From that point on, I undertook to do Ana's hair every morning.
“My Daddy Braids My Hair” is as much for parents as it is for children. The book seeks, in part, to teach children to appreciate their differences and to find beauty in their uniqueness. It also serves as a metaphor for a parent setting aside time to spend with a child while doing an activity--whatever that may be--which involves just the two of them. It is a safe time when any and everything may be spoken, without judgment or consequence. Where casual conversation can lead to uncovering deep-seated issues while simultaneously providing the platform for resolving them. My hope is for "My Daddy Braids My Hair" to help others as much as it's helped me, Monica, and Ana.