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Archive for August 23rd, 2010

… during New Cadet Orientation in my Army ROTC unit this past weekend.

The Story:

My Army ROTC unit decided to have new cadet orientation this past weekend from 9-5, Saturday and Sunday, to introduce our freshmen (yay freshmen) to the Army way of life and teach them the basics of being a cadet.  We taught them how to wear the uniform, where to go for physical training, the standards they must uphold as a cadet, et cetera, et cetera…

So I’m sitting down, minding my own business, trying my best to be a good example to the freshmen and sophomores of how to act while in uniform… when we begin to talk about hair and the hair standards while in the army combat uniform.

And as 1 of 2 OBVIOUSLY natural-haired black women in the room, I began to feel the heat.  Of the 15 or so cadre that we have, about 8 of them are black, therefore, myself and the other natural, Stef (also my roommate, bestie, and the person I always sit by in class), sat enduring the goring stares of 16 skeptical eyes.  Fantastic.  All I wanted to do was start the year off right and I could already tell there was gonna be a problem.

… then the unthinkable happened: I was called upon to answer a question, before the entire class, about hair.  FML.

“How many headbands can you wear in uniform, Cadet [SuperCoils]?”

“Ummmm…. one.”

“Yes.  Earlier today you were wearing two but I see that you have corrected yourself.  Good job.”

“But… what if one headband doesn’t do the job?  What if you need more than one?”

As soon as I saw the look that came over the cadre’s face, I knew I’d made a mistake.  I just knew that I should have asked this question in private.  Why had I opened my big mouth???

“Well then, cadet,” the cadre says, smirking, eyes on my uncovered head, “looks like someone needs a perm, huh?”

A few cadets in the back snickered, but all I could hear in my mind were his words, echoing…

*tire screech* Oh HHHEEEELLLLLLLLLL NO!

Next thing I know, another cadre is whispering in the first one’s ear, Stef is tapping me on my leg to sit down, and the first cadre (let’s call him “Sergeant DA”… and we all know what the “DA” stands for)  is rushing to rephrase his prior statement, starting with, “for all of you ladies out there who choose to go natural…”.

From what Stef says, I stood there for a full minute giving him the strangest look with my fist balled up.  The guy next to me, SuperFast (because he runs super fast) looked over at me after I sat down and said, “Damn, [SuperCoils]; you looked at that guy like you wanted to kill him.”

I didn’t… well, let me not lie: I kinda did.  I didn’t realize I’d stood there for so long.  I was just so shocked by what had just come out of his mouth that I couldn’t think of anything else to say.  I didn’t even realize I’d allowed my emotions to show on my face until Stef and SuperFast told me so.

The whole incident got me thinking about my natural hair journey in relation to the Army.  I knew that my cadre did not care that I was going natural.  As a matter of fact, as long as your hair is within regulations, they really don’t care about it at all.  I was just shocked that Sergeant DA thought that was funny, or even appropriate, in front of 90 other cadets.  It was embarrassing, and it caught me way off guard.  I mean, any other normal person and I would’ve almost seen it coming… but an NCO in the United States Army?  I mean damn, the first sentence of the NCO’s Creed is “No one is more professional than I.”  I’m just saying… really? We’re there now?

This occurred on Saturday, and by Sunday, I’d decided that transitioning in ROTC would just be too difficult.  I’d more than likely sweat my styles out during PT and I wouldn’t have the time to worry about my hair before class.  Furthermore, the next time I saw Sergeant DA, I really wanted to tell him what I thought of him and his ignorant comments without even saying a word.

So I went back to my dorm, washed my hair, picked up my 12 dollar shears, and ended my almost 17 month transition.

In other words, I BC’ed last night.

Peace, Love, and Shears,

SuperCoils

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