Tired: An Ode to Hair & Anxiety

by Gabrielle Reed

Edited by Lia James

TW: mention of sexual assault

I am sitting here thinking of 192,451 ways I could write “I am tired”. That’s an odd number, isn’t it? I don’t think numbers even matter anymore. Black life should not have to be reduced to a number, a statistic, or a hashtag. One murder is too many.

I get up every day fighting against the struggle of what it means to be a young Black woman. In all my rage, however eloquent or loud it may be, I am tired of a great many things. Among them:

I am tired of being tired

Tired of cutting my hair in the bathroom at 1AM

Instagram: @officialgabbyreed

Watching the 4C clops of hair fall like

An easy way to remedy my quenching anxiety

Just to remember that hair grows back

Breonna Taylor can’t get her life back

So, I grow angrier.

I go to Facebook to write a long post about aforementioned feelings

Then consider how old high school “friends” who were comfortable not-so-quietly saying the n-word in my presence will think my post is a rant

When in fact, it’s a heartsong

I’ve been bleeding for years

Often bleeding in front of them.

I’ve been bleeding since they slid the hot comb through my tresses.

Bleeding as more stubborn hands tried to relax my hair into compliance.

Bleeding when people touch my hair and say “it feels like cotton”.

Right after asking if my weave or my straightened hair is my real hair.

Knowing that no one can stop this blood from boiling and curdling.

Knowing that no one ever cares to stop and notice.

Knowing that people view the concept of “black lives mattering” as a political agenda instead of a mere birthright.

Nobody seems to care about black people

Black women

My people

Black LGBT people.

I’m so tired of having to hide:

My sexuality

My body

My joy

My Blackness

My reason for being  

My goddamn hair.

So tired I cry for days in the middle of a pandemic

Where I don’t wanna leave my house

Let alone my room

Watching George Floyd’s funeral with my mother

Amid anxiously cut clumps of my hair

Having to relive him crying out for his mother.

Why is it so easy to share black death and ignore the root cause?

Can you not hear us over our hair?

Even when it cries out to be seen, to be loved, to be acknowledged and to be heard?

To know too many black girls are never heard

Instead, they are silenced in back rooms and back alleys by men who could never take no for an answer.

Who is coming to save them? 

Imagine it all hurting so bad you are resigned to nothing but angry tears

With nothing to have

Just anger, disgust, and more tears.

This may read as a soliloquy

But, really it’s an elegy

To my hair on the bathroom floor, and all the other ways in which this world has tried to change me.

the unplug collective

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