Blanche only started getting her hair permed when she moved back to the Twin Cities.
When she was living down in Sioux City, she left it to fall against her face in grayish brown wisps. Sometimes she didn’t even comb it before she left in the morning to teach school– the rural school, the one with the black kids.
Once there was a boy who came to school with his hands wrapped in yellowing gauze. Blanche thought it was the harsh discipline of the time. But his mama came that afternoon and said, “No. He stuck his hands in lye because he wanted to be white, white like you.”
And that’s why Blanche left. That’s why she traded her flat, brown, rural hair for a Twin Cities permanent.