JPS: You know what, I get it. In people eyes, I could see how it could be radical. It’s so funny the more I sit back and think about it, I was raised like this. It’s so natural to me–my situation was different; I had a lot of freedom. My mother worked a lot and she also struggled with drugs. So I had a lot of freedom at 12. But I also paid attention to where freedom worked and where it didn’t. One of the freedoms that I had was hair and clothes and how it completely [helped to] develop my self-esteem and sense of worth. And how, if I could dye my hair blue and shave it on the sides and deal with people remarks or smirks while I am walking to school, I’m good. To be able to stand tall in my own personal convictions for who I am and what I decided I wanted to be. And I was given that at a very early age. So by the time I got to 18 and I came out to LA, there was nobody out here that was going to pull me out of my own Jada game because I was very clear about who I am. You aren’t going to sucker me into to doing some crazy shit I didn’t want to do. I didn’t have someone dictating to me along on what I need to be, and then at 18 struggling to figure out–I was already there. And the difference I see in Willow at 12 is, she’s got a loving father and the truth of the matter is that a girl’s emotional development is really strongly developed based on her relationship with her father. I just think of parenting at this: I don’t believe until waiting until a child is 18 to throw them to the world. I’d rather have kids in my house with me, building out certain freedoms as you go, and being there with them in my house while they are exercising these certain freedom so that we can be in the process in these freedoms together. When my children are 18, they will be fine. I don’t have to worry about them. Life starts when you pop out of the womb, and that’s what I believe!
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HB: You know, it’s strikes me that people get really unnerved by seeing confident young black girls—it’s a thing!
JPS: Let’s talk about it! People get scared, they’re like—you’re going to start that power right now at that age? Nah, nah, nah, hold up! People resent seeing little girls having a sense of self that even they don’t have themselves. They are pissed off! How f*cking dare you? You! Nine?! How dare you think you’re going to do what you want to do! Every woman: black, yellow, white, I don’t care–should have the right of themselves. How you gonna’ get mad at little Miss Q [Quevenzhane]? That girl is getting her groove on! How did you get mad a young girl building herself up, her art, her career, her life? What is wrong with that? People mad at some little girl cause she cut her hair? Hair grows back! It’s not about the hair. This is about having a lack of self-freedom. When people see little people free, it pisses them off because they don’t have it for themselves–and they use the excuse that she’s too young! No, no! What’s too young is Willow going out driving a car, or staying out till 12 o’clock at night–that’s what she’s too young for! But hair? Cut it off!! It was really a beautiful thing for her; it was the best decision I made. Because [for her] it was like, ‘my mother trusts me enough to give me the room to trust that I know what I need for myself at this time’; she totally blossomed from that minute on. That’s when I saw her become herself, and she’s been on that path ever since. I think as women, we have to stop being scared to be the women we want to be and we have raise our daughters to be the women they want to be–not the women we think they should be. Willow is not me.