Semret’s Braids

Semret

Photo: HBGs Starr* and Semret

It’s been about 5 years since I’ve worn my hair in braids. I rocked cornrows and extensions all throughout college, alongside one of my best friends (s/o to G!), as we grew out our natural hair . . . relaxers were no longer the bizness.

When my then boyfriend, now husband and I met, I was rockin’ braids. The day I took them them out, he wanted to see me. I begrudgingly agreed . . .  all the while wondering, how was this Chicano going to react to all of this, all of ME? Well, he rolled up to my house that night bumpin’ Lady of Rage’s ‘Afro Puffs’. It was love, y’all.

But even before that, braids was my summer do. My sister and I spent our childhood summertimes drinking ice tea with our East Coast fam, just outside of Philly. Sitting legs crossed on the carpet, my cousins and I would take turns getting cornrowed up. While my Aunt Denise transformed our crowns of glory . . . all four of us girls would help pick which color beads to add at the bottoms, held in place with foil.

Having been blessed with a not so tender head, I loved every moment of the process. There’s just something soothing, maybe even spiritual about having one’s hair combed, oiled, braided, and touched.

Last month, with one week to spare before heading out of town, I had the urge to resurrect the braids. Once again, my friend, the Scientist, hooked me up with a beautiful fellow Eritrean sista who would do just that. After helping me pick out two shades of hair the previous day, we met Saturday morning in her salon (Semret’s Braidery & Salon). With fresh fruit and the latest Fader issue in tow, I sat down. We filled the rest of the day with laughter, good conversation, stories from home and how we ended up in sunny SoCal. I never cracked open that Fader. Friends of hers and mine made appearances, the Scientist brought me Habesha food from Awash Market, and music from Semret’s birthplace filled the space. Before leaving, we embraced as new friends. I’m already smiling thinking about next time. – Starr*, Happy Black Girl

 

Because it just made sense, here’s Jazmine Sullivan’s braid serenade (off of Gilles Peterson Presents: The BBC Sessions Vol.1):