Book Release: September 2014
My blog is a chronicle of what I do and why I do it. It covers my journey learning to care for my daughter’s naturally curly hair, as well as transracial adoption and family life, exploring identity, respect, and empowerment, often using hair as our common language. Although the main focus of the blog surrounds haircare, it is my goal to provide a cultural context within which we've established our routines in the hopes of better illustrating how our choices fit into the broader picture of our family life. Blogging began as my way of helping other adoptive/foster parents learn to care for natural hair, but has grown into so much more. In addition to chronicling everyday activities such as growing hair, products, and step-by-step instructions, you can also follow my daughter and I as we find our footing on life’s journey.
Chocolate Hair / Vanilla Care is evidence that if I can do hair, anyone can do it! This former motorcycle-riding tomboy never would have imagined that one day I’d be writing about such girly things as hairstyles. Yet here I am, blogging into my third year at Chocolate Hair / Vanilla Care!
As a single parent (Boo's father and I are now divorced), I’m currently working as a freelance writer and social media consultant. I hold degrees in Cultural Anthropology and Theatre (history and criticism), having attended both UC Berkeley (Go Bears!) and UCLA. I’m also self-taught in UNIX systems administration, having enjoyed more than 10 years in that career at UCLA before leaving to focus on raising my daughter full time. However, I’m only truly happy when completely over-committed, throwing myself into too many side-projects from penning my first novel to hair tutoring sessions, in addition to running daily: Nothing like keeping both my mind and body challenged!
You can keep up with me by visiting my personal web site at: http://www.RoryMullen.com
Thanks for stopping by!
A brief note on where the name "Chocolate Hair / Vanilla Care" came from.
One of the first books that I read while preparing for our transracial adoption was I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla by Marguerite A. Wright, Ed.D. It was where I learned about the developmental stages of how a child comes to an understanding of self in terms of race. Most people who come to this blog understand that as a children's haircare blog, the words "chocolate" and "vanilla" were chosen based on a child's classification of his or her self prior to becoming aware of racial-typing words.
When asked about "What color are you?" they are just as likely to mention the color of their clothes as the color of their skin. Moreover, children who do have an awareness of their skin color describe it with their own distinctive color words, such as chocolate, vanilla, or peach,which relate to their experience with food rather than with racial categories. (pp. 14-15)Since my daughter came home I have had the chance to witness her moving through these stages first-hand. I remember her calling one of the little boys across the street "the black boy," for no other reason than when she first met him he was wearing a black shirt. She has since moved into, and then out of, the stages of referring to people as flavours, not unlike the title of the blog. The phase was a short-lived period in her life as she's moved on to a deeper understanding of the words Black, White, African American, etc. She now refers to herself as "brown-skinned," when speaking to me, "Black" when speaking to other people (adults and children alike).
As Boo's mother it is my duty to raise her in a color-conscious home. "Raising healthy black and biracial children in a race-conscious world," as the subtitle of the aforementioned book suggests, is exactly what I am trying to do. By no means do we expect that everyone will be pleased with our decision to use words like "chocolate" and "vanilla" in our blog, but it was a literary choice that was made to reinforce the child-centered themes, with all the innocence that comes with them. Like every choice in parenting, this decision was mine to make. If you do not agree with using those terms, please use whatever makes you feel comfortable when posting (within reason, of course).
As Doug Floyd said, "You don't get harmony when everybody sings the same note." Our passions, our choices, our personalities are what provide the richness and beauty that is our culture and I wouldn't trade that in for anything.
About Boo's Nickname
For those who have wondered, this is why we call her "Boo." ;-)