She Hopes Her Black Hair Story Uplifts Girls, Changes Culture

She had been wanting to write a book for a very long time, documenting her very personal, first-hand experience as a Black girl growing up and showcasing her natural hair. 


“I had a pretty interesting relationship with my hair,” said Makiah Shipp, author of “Makiah’s Show and Tell.” “I went through all the young girl Black hairstyles that we all do and eventually I stopped liking my hair because I ended up going to schools where I was the only Black girl or Black person where they didn’t share the same hair texture as me.” 


It’s part of the reason Shipp has been wanting to share her story. Shipp, 20, has wanted to learn how to write a book since high school at the age of 17. Despite not personally knowing any publishers or authors, that didn’t stop her pursuit, even after she entered college. 


“I didn’t know anyone who had written books before, I was really new to it. I just started asking around including my professors, but that yielded me nowhere, too. Not all my professors had written books before, so I just went to Google and typed, ‘How to write a book?’” 


Shipp said she changed schools often growing up. Some settings put her in a school population of mostly Black students, while some experiences she encountered a more diverse student body, and at times she was in schools as the only Black person. 


“I used to want to straighten by hair or chemically treat it or do things to make it look like the people I was around.” 


Shipp would eventually begin the process of authoring her book in October 2022 and said she really wants to teach younger kids to be comfortable with their identity.  


She tells her journey and inspires others to find comfort in their hair after not finding it herself at many points as a child. The lack of being confident in herself came not just from school experience but even from home. 


“Growing up my mom did my hair and in the second page of the book is my mom actually calling my hair nappy and telling me, ‘you need to comb your hair so I can style your hair.’” 

Shipp said the book informs families about the “harmful rhetoric” use and how to normalize the conversation in the Black community. Some painful words people have used to characterize Shipp’s natural hairstyle and texture resonated with her for a long time.  


“I was confident in my hairstyles but there were still conversations and internalized feelings that we [Black people] don’t have the good hair and somehow we need to do more to get it together.” 


Shipp said she liked and even embraced the look and idea of getting her “hair done” initially but after getting older it made her internalize the thoughts and feelings of insecurities that she really doesn’t have good hair if it’s not “styled” to the liking of others in the Black community. 


“I wear natural but I wear my hair straight a lot times because it’s convenient for me, but now when I wear my natural hair, I’m confident in doing so.” 


And it appears her story is also inspiring young kids to feel comfortable and embrace the choices of their own or someone else’s hair identity.  


“Since the end of February, I have been on a book tour,” Shipp said, as she’s been visiting local schools. “I talk to the kids about identity and you’ll be really surprised [how] receptive the kids are of all races. It really was a shock for me because the front cover of my book is a Black girl with braids in her hair.” 


Shipp says she originally assumed the only ones interested in the book, would be kids who looked like herself. 


“A lot of kids actually see themselves in the book and it opened my eyes to how my writing and experience is connecting. A young white kid approached me and said I’m going to do what Makiah does,” a reference to correcting people who make other people feel uncomfortable.  


The Detroit native and soon-to-be University of Michigan graduate wants to empower young Black girls, but now believes the book tour has encouraged her to do even more to inspire, uplift and encourage girls to be confidant in themselves. 


Shipp’s book, “Makiah’s Show and Tell” can be purchase at many retailers that sell books as well as on Amazon. 


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