In a time when natural hair continues to be policed, a fifth grader is doing her part to encourage people to love their hair the way it grows out of their scalps.
Promise Sawyers is 10 years old, and even at her tender age, she’s got a message of self-acceptance that is worth listening to.
“I went to school and I wore my hair in an afro like this,” the Nashville, Tennessee, resident begins in the video initially posted to her mom Qui Daugherty’s Facebook page on August 27. “People had a lot of mean things to say about it, and that made me feel some type of way. So, yesterday when I came home, I told my mom and she said, ‘Promise, don’t forget who you are and whose you are.’
“I said OK. So today, I’m going to go to school and I’m going to come back bigger and better,” she says, proudly gripping her afro. “And don’t allow anyone to steal your joy. Don’t give them that much power.”
In the three weeks since the Metro Nashville Public Schools student’s video was posted, it’s collected nearly 2 million views and amassed nearly 9,000 comments applauding her message.
“Good for you Young QUEEN! Keep your head up and stay forever Strong!👌👍💪🌹”
“You’re making me BRAVE! YOU’RE INFECTIOUS. Nothing going to steal my joy!”
“Big and bad like my shero Angela Davis. Ignore all fools.”
“Yes you are beautiful, hair is gorgeous. Be you hold your head proud. Your mother is so right. You are a beautiful proud black princess”
“You go girl I am a beautiful young lady you are proud”
“Your hair is gorgeous! You are gorgeous from head to toe! And l love the way you are taking this. You are amazing chula💋🥰💪🏼”
Promise further explained what spurred her to create the video on “The Kelly Clarkson Show” Friday, saying that people had “mean things to say” about her wearing her hair in an afro.
“That really surprised me because at my other school, everybody used to love it … but when I went to this school everybody just had several negative things to say about it.” Promise said Sept. 20.
Her mom, Daughtery, redirected her daughter and kept the focus on how good Promise felt about her hair before she headed to school that morning.
Daughtery had also told Yahoo Lifestyle that “the video was made at that point, like she’s really taking a stance. The immediate family was more proud of that moment, but we had no idea the impact that it was gonna make and the amount of messages.”
But it wasn’t just those on social media who were moved by Promise’s message. “Black-ish” actress and star of the upcoming show “Mixed-ish” Tracee Ellis Ross was so inspired that she invited Promise on stage during her interview with Kelly Clarkson.
“I’m so glad you knew at 10 years old what it took me so long to learn about myself and you are such an example,” she said before telling Daughtery, “well done on the parenting.”
Promise’s positive message follows New York becoming the second U.S. state to prohibit hair discrimination in July after California did the same earlier that month.