Hair as Repair: Emotional Reparations
Written by Nia Campinha-Bacote
Have you ever heard of the phrase Emotional Reparations? I hadn’t until three months ago, honestly. But since discovering the term, I’ve been able to find language that helps me better articulate my journey of racial healing within myself and my community.
So what exactly are Emotional Reparations? I’m glad you asked 🙂
In the context of 21st Century America, the idea of reparations is often associated with demands for financial compensation to descendants of enslaved Africans, accounting for the centuries of damage done by the institution of chattel slavery. However, a brief study of the origins of the word reveals a more expansive definition, as the word reparation stems from the Latin word reparationem, meaning “the act of repairing; restoration.” By this definition, reparations become more than just money, or any other physical resource. It stretches to include impromptu and curated experiences of healing devoted to repairing the centuries of emotional and psychological harm inflicted upon Americans descended from enslaved Africans. This broader understanding is what has led me to think about the desperate need – my desperate need – for Emotional Reparations…